THREE DISCOVERIES IN ONE: New Evidence for a Book Bound and Owned in Ulm, ca. 1500-1531

ottoThree discoveries by three different researchers have cast new light on a remarkable 500-year-old book that has been at Princeton University since 1873: Otto von Passau’s Die vierundzwanzig Alten, oder Der goldne Thron, completed by the Strasbourg printer Johann Schott on 28 March 1500. In this work, illustrated with 25 woodcuts, the Twenty-Four Elders of Revelation 4:4 expound upon passages of scriptural wisdom so as to guide the reader to the “golden throne” of eternal salvation.

The first discovery was made in 2007 by Scott Husby, Princeton’s conservator for Rare Books and Special Collections (since retired), who identified the folio’s original (ca. 1500) blind-tooled pigskin-covered binding as the work of bookbinders at Ulm in southern Germany. ulm-o-123The tooled emblems found on the binding, including a distinctive Lamb of God, Winged Lion of St. Mark, and Pierced Heart, are associated both with the bindery of the Augustinian canons of the “Wengenkloster “ of St. Michael in Ulm, and with Konrad Dinckmut, a printer active in Ulm from 1476 and recorded as a bookbinder in that city from 1481; Dinckmut’s sons Hans and Michael appear to have continued binding books with his tools into the sixteenth century.

A Reformation-era inscription within the book supports this localization, as it records that the volume was the property of the Franciscan fathers of Ulm until the eve of the feast of St. Francis (4 October) 1531, when the city’s adoption of Protestantism led to their expulsion (“Gehort den vatter[n] zu Ulm als sy uszogen seind umb Francisci im xxxi jor”):

o-123titlepage

The second discovery was made by John Lancaster, Curator of Special Collections, Emeritus, Amherst College Library, in October 2016. He identified the mysterious printed paper sheet that had served the bookbinder as a pastedown inside the folio’s front cover. Noting that it came from a Latin grammatical work printed idsc_0007n quarto format, he quickly determined that “the text is Alexander de Villa Dei, Doctrinale – of which there are hundreds of editions. But the lack of commentary rules out many editions, so a quick look for editions without commentary, preferably quite late (since the Otto von Passau was printed in 1500), led to success! [Ulm: Johann Schäffler], 15 Feb. 1500.”

This Ulm edition of the Doctrinale is truly rare: it exists only in a single incomplete copy at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, and – as we now know – the single sheet of binding waste discovered at Princeton. As the sheet appears to have been printed on one side only and was never cut into individual leaves, it would have been discarded by Schäffler’s printing shop in Ulm ca. 1500 and handed over as waste material for use by the Ulm binder of Princeton’s Otto von Passau, a book that likewise was printed in 1500 and imported to Ulm soon thereafter.

The third discovery came in November 2016, when Eric White, Princeton’s Acting Curator of Rare Books, tackled the nagging problem of the handsome coat-of-arms painted inside the book’s back cover, beneath the initials P and R and the date 1505. A longer-than-desired period of fruitless searching ultimately was rewarded when a match was found in a sixtdsc_0008eenth-century compendium of German armorials: the quarters on the right, divided per fess into black over white, refer to the civic arms of Ulm, while on the left the white unicorn on a black field identifies the crest as that of the family Roth von Schreckenstein, prominent patricians of Ulm.

The initials PR are believed to belong to Paulus Roth von Schreckenstein (b. 1435), the Bürgermeister of Ulm during the 1470s. Although his date of death is not known, he may well have left the book to the Franciscans of Ulm soon after 1505. Another Ulm binding with a nearly identical painted coat of arms and the initials PR is at the University of Gießen; it encloses Dinckmut’s rare Ulm edition of Der neuen Liebe Buch (not before 1486) and three Strasbourg editions from 1507 to 1509.

These discoveries increase the scholarly value of Princeton’s copy of Otto von Passau by bringing unusually rich context to the relationships between printers, bookbinders, and both mendicant and secular book owners in Germany five centuries ago; they may also shed particularly interesting light on the broader but heretofore forgotten book collecting activities of a prominent member of Ulm’s patriciate, Paulus Roth von Schreckenstein.

pr1505

Princeton University Library Rare Books and Special Collections. Call no. ExI 5959.692. Purchased by the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1873 along with an important collection of Reformation pamphlets owned by Dr. Adolf Trendelenburg of Berlin.

Acquisitions at the Pirie Sale

PRINTED BOOKS ACQUIRED AT THE PIRIE SALE

Stephen Ferguson
Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections

“I’d never intended to practice law,” said Robert S. Pirie (1934–2015), a prominent New York lawyer and investment banker. “I wanted to become the rare book curator.” Pirie was the youngest in a cohort of twentieth-century American collectors of early English literature, among whom Robert H. Taylor (1909–1985) was the oldest. Long-time Princeton resident and major antiquarian bookseller John Brett-Smith (1917–2003), although British-born, was also a member of this cohort. There were many commonalities among the three. All had a bond and loyalty to the legendary New York antiquarian bookshop Seven Gables, which supplied each of them with tasteful, distinguished, and provenance-rich copies of major and minor monuments of England’s literary greats. (For more on the Seven Gables cohort, see Nicolas Barker, “Robert S. Pirie, 1934–2015,” The Book Collector 64.2 [Summer 2015]: 202–10.) Furthermore, their collective imagination and achievement projected their reputations beyond the Northeast and clear across to Britain. In some respects, the attainments of two members of this group are preserved in the Princeton University Library. Robert Taylor’s bequest is well known. Perhaps less well known is the work of John Brett-Smith, who, as bookseller and sometimes donor, augmented, supplied, and extended our collections of English literature. Therefore, when the Pirie collection came to auction in December 2015, we had another—and perhaps the last—opportunity to capture some of the glory of this remarkable group of twentieth-century collectors. Guiding our bidding decisions were themes already strong in the Taylor collection: annotated books, books of notable provenance, and extraordinary books signaling the literary taste of early modern England. The fifteen books purchased at the Pirie sale are listed below.

PIRIE

ANNOTATED BOOKS

Thomas Tusser, Five Hundred Points of Husbandry (London, 1580); annotated by Gabriel Harvey (1552/3–1631).

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War [in Greek] (Venice: Aldus, 1502), bound with Pausanias, Works (Venice: Aldus, 1516); annotated by Roger Ascham (1515–1568) and Richard Morison (c. 1514–1556) (pictured above).

Ben Jonson, Works (London, 1692), and John Suckling, Fragmenta Aurea (London, 1646); both annotated by Charles Lamb (1775–1834).

Pliny, Epistolae (Venice: Aldus, 1508); annotated by Nicholas Udall (1505–1556).

Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 4th ed. (London, 1658); annotated by Browne (1605–1682).

Matthias Eberhart, Scholastica (Wittenberg, 1572); annotated by Robert Burton (1577–1640).

Erycius Puteanus, Comus (Oxford, 1634); annotated by Leigh Hunt (1784–1859).

BOOKS OF NOTABLE PROVENANCE

Arthur Duck, Vita Henrici Chichele (Oxford, 1617); with the initials of Isaak Walton (1593–1683).

Michel Montaigne, Les Essais (Paris, 1625); with a note in the hand of Abraham Cowley (1618–1687) and bookplates of later notable owners.

Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum (London, 1626); with supralibros of H[enry] G[oodere] and labels of other owners.

Elkanah Settle, Thalia Triumphans (London, 1717); binding with the arms of Henry Fiennes Clinton, 7th Earl of Lincoln (1684–1728).

Abbe d’Aubignac, Pratique du théâtre (Paris, 1657); with the signature of William Congreve (1670–1729) on the title page.

William Burton, Description of Leicester Shire (London, 1622); binding with the crest of Robert Glascock.

A MARKER OF LITERARY TASTES

A Sammelband, in a contemporary binding, of eight English translations from Ovid, by George Chapman (1559?–1634), Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593), Thomas Heywood (c. 1574–1641), and others, all published between c. 1625 and 1640.

 

MANUSCRIPTS ACQUIRED AT THE PIRIE SALE

Don C. Skemer
Curator of Manuscripts

Pirie3The Manuscripts Division acquired three works at the Pirie auction: an Elizabethan prayer book c. 1580; a 1666 scribal copy of “The Second and Third Advice to a Painter,” a text that Professor of English Nigel Smith attributes to Andrew Marvell (1621–1678); and the 1660s memoir of an English woman named Mary Whitelocke. The daughter of London merchant Bigley Carleton, Whitelocke penned a fascinating 175-page memoir of her life and intimate thoughts for her eldest son. She traces her life from the time of her first marriage at the age of sixteen to Rowland Wilson (d. 1650), Member of Parliament, also from a London mercantile family. Whitelocke’s second marriage in 1650 was to the prominent Puritan lawyer, politician, and diplomat Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605–1675), a Member of Parliament and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, with whom Mary had seven children. Much of the memoir relates to Mary’s family, home, and religious beliefs. Particularly interesting is Whitelocke’s poignant account of a miscarriage that occurred during her first marriage. There is some discussion of public affairs and events, particularly in her defense of Bulstrode Whitelocke’s public life. The manuscript has been in private collections since 1860, when it was cited and quoted in a biography of Bulstrode Whitelocke. All three manuscripts have been added to the Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature (RTC 01).

New Provenance for a Princeton Fragment of the 36-Line Bible

Recent findings cast new light on the prehistory of the Scheide Library’s vellum fragment of the 36-Line Bible (Bamberg: Albrecht Pfister?, not after 1461) – probably the third printed Bible and one of the first books printed outside of Mainz. Closer analysis of the rubrication shows that the Princeton fragment, which John H. Scheide purchased from the bookseller Joseph Baer in Frankfurt am Main in 1934, was one of numerous pieces of vellum that a mid-seventeenth-century bookbinder in or near Bad Wildungen in Hesse, Germany, cut out of a discarded 36-Line Bible – evidently no longer needed for local Catholic worship – for the purpose of making archival document wrappers.

WHS.B36.vellum.fragment

The hand-colored initials and other markings in both the Scheide fragment and the fragments preserved at the municipal archives in Bad Wildungen were added by the same fifteenth-century rubricator. Moreover, whereas the Scheide fragment is the lower part of the leaf containing Psalms 10 through 13, a nearly identical fragment still at Bad Wildungen comprises the upper portion of the same leaf. Finally, thanks to recent inquiries to the archivist at Bad Wildungen, additional unrecorded fragments from this same Bible have been found within the archive. The results of this renewed scrutiny, which requires the identification of numerous very small scraps of printed text, are being prepared for publication in Germany.

The 36-Line Bible long has been the focus of intensive study, as its Gothic typeface was developed in Mainz during the early 1450s, almost certainly by Johannes Gutenberg. For book historians, the main takeaway from the study of the scattered fragments of the 36-Line Bible is that there appear to have been four different vellum copies of that Bible that ended up as binding waste, and one or possibly two paper copies, to go along with the fourteen reasonably intact paper copies that survive (no intact vellum copies have been recorded). This suggests a print run of significantly fewer copies of the 36-Line Bible than the 42-Line “Gutenberg” Bible (Mainz, c. 1455), which survives in more than three times as many specimens. Whereas most of the 36-Line Bibles have provenances traceable to the Diocese of Bamberg, the Bad Wildungen fragments come from a copy that appears to have been owned and recycled considerably to the northwest. The new provenance for the Scheide fragment now contributes to an important but often overlooked body of knowledge about the early spread of typography in Europe.

Princeton’s Greek Bible of 1545, annotated by Martin Chemnitz

 Chemnitz.tp.1000             Chemnitz.Adam.1000

On December 8, 2015, it was discovered that Princeton University Library’s “copy 2” of the Greek Bible, Tēs Theias graphēs : Palaias Dēladē kai Neas Diathēkēs hapanta (Basel: Johannes Hervagius, 1545), with a Latin preface by the Lutheran reformer Philipp Melanchthon, has an important but long forgotten provenance. The title page bears a mid-sixteenth-century inscription written by Johannes Willibrochius (d. 1606) of Danzig that records his presentation of the Greek  Bible to his friend “M. Martino Kemnitz,” i.e., Martin Chemnitz (1522–1586). Chemnitz.inscription.1000
Both of these men were pupils of Melanchthon at the University of Wittenberg in the early 1550s, and Chemnitz went on to became the most important Lutheran scholar of his generation. He came to be known as “Alter Martinus” (the Second Martin), as his theological writings were essential for the sustained success of Lutheranism after the death of its founder and namesake in 1546.

Early biographies of Chemnitz mention his careful study of the Bible in the original Hebrew and Greek during the early 1550s, and indeed the Old Testament of Princeton’s Greek Bible bears thousands of marginal annotations in Greek and occasionally in Latin, written in a neat script that matches that of Chemnitz’s autograph letters. The annotations are mainly content notes, with some brief definitions and comments, but not many extended thoughts.

Johannes Willebrochius, who gave the Bible to Chemnitz, was an important figure in his own right. After his graduation from Wittenberg in 1552 he became a leading physician in Danzig. Later, he served as court physician to Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria at Prague and Innsbruck. Like Chemnitz, Willebrochius wrote theological works that ended up on the Tridentine Index of Prohibited Books. The few notes within Princeton’s Greek Bible of 1545 that were not written by Chemnitz clearly match the handwriting found in the letters of Willebrochius.

Front cover (tooling enhanced for legibility)

Chemnitz.rollDated 1550, the folio Bible’s pigskin binding bears the stamped initials “JW.” These initials clearly were added for Johannes Willebrochius before he gave the book to Chemnitz. Other stamps and rolls used to decorate the covers, including a rolled frieze (at right) with roundel portrait busts of Duke Friedrich of Saxony, Hercules, Antoninus, and Septimius Severus, dated 1524 on the surface of the tool itself, indicate that the binding was produced in Wittemberg by the noted master binder Nikolaus Müller.

The Greek Bible was donated to Princeton University Library on December 8, 1965, by Dr. Margaret Irving Handy (1889-1977), pioneering pediatrician of Delaware. It bears the signature of her grandfather, Rev. William Collins Handy (1835-1909), Princeton Class of 1855 (Divinity), later a prominent Presbyterian of New Scotland, New York, who seems to have purchased the old Bible for $1.83 in 1862. His brief autobiography of 1895, reprinted in the Princeton University Library Chronicle 30/3 (Spring, 1969), 200-203, unfortunately makes no mention of his Bible. Interestingly, the rediscovery of the Chemnitz provenance occurred exactly 50 years (to the day) after the granddaughter’s gift to Princeton.

Chemnitz.EvaThe “Chemnitz Bible,” heretofore unrecognized, is rich in research potential: for example, Princeton’s Prof. Anthony Grafton noticed that one of Chemnitz’s Latin marginalia, concerning the Vulgate version’s corruption of Genesis 3:15, cites “Philip” and quotes Melanchthon’s letter of January 1, 1539, addressed to “studiosis adolescentibus” (see Melanchthoniana paedogogica, ed. Karl Hartfelder (Leipzig: Teubner, 1892), 55). The Bible may be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room; its call number is EX Oversize 5156.1545aq.

Chemnitz.open.1000a