14 November 2007,
London, King Street
Price realised GBP 16,100
Estimate GBP 5,000 - GBP 8,000
Bambergische Halszgerichts und rechtlich Ordenung. Mainz: Johann Schöffer, 28 October 1508.
2° (262 x 195mm). Gothic type. Full-page title woodcut and 21 half-page woodcuts, ALL COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND, woodcut printer's device at end. (Waterstained, small marginal wormholes on last leaf, E1,2 reinforced at hinge.) 19th-century German calf-backed boards, flat spine gilt, black leather label (rubbed, minor repairs at spine, inner hinges reinforced); modern white linen slipcase. Provenance: [sale Sotheby's, 7 November 1955, lot 213, £17 to Maggs].
Fifth edition of a landmark in the development of criminal law. Demand for the text is evident in the speed at which editions were printed. It was first published at Bamberg in 1507 and immediately in 4 editions at Mainz in 1508, all printed by Schöffer only a month or two apart. All early editions are rare. The last copy at auction was the present copy, sold in 1955.
The Bambergische Halszgerichts, or rules of the criminal court, sets out the penal reform drawn up by Johann Freiherr von Schwarzenberg, which formed the basis of the first recognised body of German criminal law, known as the Carolina (adopted under Charles V in 1530). It modernised the law, elevated the investigative process, and regulated punishments. The woodcuts, deriving from the 1507 Bamberg edition but newly cut, depict punishments, arrests and hanging, as well as domestic scenes. Adams B-141 (2 April edition); VD-16 B-260.
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