PFINTZING, Melchior (1481-1535). Die geuerlicheiten und einsteils der geschichten des loblichen streytparen und hochberumbten helds und Ritters herr Tewrdannckhs. Nuremberg: Hans Schönsperger the Elder, .
2° (361 x 256mm). 290 leaves, with blank P5. Calligraphic fraktur type with elaborate flourishes. Xylographic title, and 118 large numbered woodcuts by Jost de Negker and Heinrich Kupferworm after Hans Leonhard Schäufelein, Leonhard Beck, Hans Burgkmair and possibly 3 others. Printed correction slips on g6v, m1v, r3v, A6v and A8r. A contemporary calligraphic note on flyleaf identifies the main characters with their real-life counterparts. (Occasional light spotting, narrow dampstain at some extreme upper edges, one neat tear into text repaired, one flourish just shaved.) Contemporary German roll-tooled deerskin over bevelled wooden boards, 17th-century armorial supralibros, remains of two fore-edge clasps (rubbed, somewhat worn); modern brown morocco folding case. Provenance: Von Veis zu Ynzingshelm (17th-century supralibros) -- Duke of Arenberg.
FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE FINEST ILLUSTRATED BOOKS OF THE GERMAN RENAISSANCE. Theuerdank is a chivalric poem celebrating the heroic deeds of Emperor Maximilian. The emperor is represented in the poem as Theuerdank, portrayed overcoming the difficulties of his journey to win his bride, Mary of Burgundy (Kunigin Ernreich in the poem).
Maximilian himself was closely involved in all aspects of Theuerdank, from its composition to its distribution after printing. He had completed first drafts in 1505-1508 and turned over the completion and general editing of the work to Melchior Pfintzing, his private secretary; Pfintzing also identifies himself in the dedication to Charles V, Maximilian's father-in-law, as chaplain to Charles, and as provost of St. Alban's at Mainz and of St. Sebald's at Nuremberg. Maximilian appointed the Augsburg printer Schönsperger to the post of Imperial printer; at least part of the paper stock was made specifically for the edition and bears a watermark of the double eagle with arms of Austria and Burgundy; a remarkable series of woodcut illustrations -- among the finest of the German Renaissance -- was cut, commissioned from some of the greatest woodcut artists of the day, Schäufelein, Beck and Burgkmair; and a calligraphic type was specially cast to print it. The design of the type is traditionally attributed to Vinzenz Rockner, Maximilian's court secretary, and is based on forms in the writing book of Leonhard Wagner from c. 1507-17. The Emperor's patronage of this fraktur ensured that the letterform became the standard national German type.
A TALL COPY IN ITS ORIGINAL BINDING with only a single flourish just shaved. The calligraphic note at the front identifying Theuerdank as Maximilian in the present tense suggests that this copy may have been one of the few distributed in Maximilian's lifetime. No copies of the first edition were available for sale. 'The whole stock of copies lay in six chests at Augsburg until March 1526, when the Archduke Ferdinand decided to distribute, through Max Treitzsauerwein, the contents of five of the chests to different German subjects as memorials of the late Emperor. The other chestful the archduke kept for himself' (Davies, Murray, German). It has been suggested that printed correction slips on several leaves demonstrate that the vellum copies were printed first, but the present paper copy also has these correction slips. Adams P-962; Brunet V, 787; Davies, Murray, German 329.