In a Most Unusual Chained Binding

M. Elucidarius von allerhand geschöpffen Gottes, den Engeln, den Himeln, Gestirns, Planeten, und wie alle Creaturn geschaffen sein auff erden. Auch wie die erd in drey tayl getailt, und dero Länder, sampt der völcker darinn, aygenschafften, und wunderbarlichen Thieren, Auß Plinio Secundo, Solino, und andern Weltbeschreibern, ain kurtze lustige anzaygung.

Large woodcut on title of an astronomer studying an armillary sphere in front of a starry sky by Hans Burgkmair & nine woodcuts in the text. 40 unnumbered leaves. Small 4to, cont. limp vellum, title written in a contemporary hand on upper cover, with the orig. nine-link chain attached to the lower cover with the orig. chain swivel & ring at other end, orig. deerskin ties. Augsburg: V. Otmar, 1548.

A fine copy of the “first German encyclopedia” of general knowledge, here bound in a very remarkable chained binding. Most surviving chained bindings are substantial folios; our example is a smaller format book with a chain, of which very few exist. Chained bindings were devised to secure books to shelving and to prevent them from being removed or stolen.

The text of this book, which was one of the most widely read popular books of the 15th century, passed through many editions in the first 150 years of printing. It is a cosmographical, geographical, and astronomical compendium of science, largely based on Pliny, Solinus, Isidore of Seville, and Bede, and had its origins in the second half of the 12th century.

Written in the form of a dialogue between master and pupil, the 25 chapters discuss a wide range of subjects: the creation, astronomy, meteorology, natural history, earthquakes, the countries of Europe and other lands including the Middle East and Asia (alluding to Portugal’s discoveries of many faraway islands in Asia and, clearly, America), and theology. Our edition has been prepared for a Protestant audience. The text was translated into Low German, French, Italian, and Czech; few early scientific books can have had the same impact as this work.

As mentioned above, the fine woodcut on the title — signed “HB” (Hans Burgkmair) — depicts an astronomer studying his armillary sphere with an open book on the table and the starry sky behind him. Several of the attractive woodcuts are astronomical and astrological.

This is a rare edition. with WorldCat locating only two copies, both in Bavaria.

In fine and fresh condition. The chain, from the swivel to (and including) the ring is 310 mm. long. Single small and unimportant wormhole throughout. The final two leaves have small punctures in blank margins due to the swivel post.

❧ Sarton, I, p. 749 & II, pp. 200-01. Schorbach, “Studien über das deutsche Volksbuch Lucidarius” in Quellen und Forschungen (Bd. 75, 1894) & no. 53 in his bibliography. Zinner 1939.

Price: $32,500.00

Item ID: 6486