FRIDOLIN, Stephan (d.1498). Schatzbehalter der wahren Reichtümer des Heils. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 8 November 1491.
Median 2° (335x 235mm). Collation: a-z6 ab-ad6 ae8 A-Z6 Aa-Gg6 Hh10 (a1 blank, a2r prologues, a4v text, Hh9r colophon, Hh9v-10 blank). 354 leaves. 40 lines and headline, double column, printed guide-letters. Type: 10:120G, 11:162G mixed with sorts from 9:165G. ILLUMINATED AND FULLY COLOURED BY A CONTEMPORARY, PROBABLY NUREMBERG, HAND: 7- and 11-line initial opening prologue and text, respectively, in blue with white modeling on a punched gold ground within a painted fictive frame, other major initials in interlocking red and blue, minor initials in red or blue, red paragraph marks, 96 full-page woodcuts from 91 blocks by Michael Wolgemut, Michael Pleydenwurff and their workshop, woodcut Hebrew letters on d4r. (Some light spotting and browning, tiny hole in f5, minor marginal tear, most repaired, in about 6 leaves, small tape repair on ab4v, some bleed-through on woodcut versos.) Contemporary Nuremberg binding of blindstamped calf over unbevelled wooden boards, front cover with central panel of trellis and floral spray tools, outer frame of dragon, rosette and Laubstab stamps (Kyriss 117, tools a, 2, 4), upper and lower compartment with 3 human figures (two hunters and a woman) tooled in gilt, title gilt-stamped, early paper lettering label, back cover with similar frame, central panel diapered and with dragon and small leafy-spray tool, spine with rosettes, two fore-edge clasps (restored at edges, clasp leather renewed, splits in backstrip, lightly worn, evidence of earlier metalwork); modern russet morocco-backed folding box. Provenance: St. Walburg (presumably the Benedictine nunnery at Eichstätt, or possibly the Walburgiskapelle at Nuremberg; contemporary inscription on front pastedown: Das Puch gehort zu Sanct Walpurge), a few contemporary annotations -- Rudolf, Graf von Stillfried (1804-1882; Bibliotheca Stillfridiana bookplate) -- Jorge Beristayn (bookplate) -- Louis H. Silver (booklabel; sold in the sale of Newberry Library duplicates from the Silver accession, Sotheby's 8 November 1965,£3,200 to Maggs).
FIRST EDITION, a deluxe copy, illuminated, coloured and bound in workshops associated with the Koberger printing office. The powerful woodcuts are considered to have made a significant impact on Albrecht Dürer and influenced directly his own monumental work in woodcut (Nuremberg 1971 cat., no 115). He had been apprenticed to the Wolgemut-Pleydenwurff workshop from 1486-89, and returned to Nuremberg from Basel soon after publication of the Schatzbehalter.
The Schatzbehalter was written by Stephan Fridolin, spiritual guide and confessor to the Poor Clares at Nuremberg, almost certainly at the behest of the nuns and their abbess, Caritas Pirckheimer, sister to Willibald. The contemporary ownership of the present copy of the Schatzbehalter by the St. Walburg nunnery at Eichstätt emphasises the relationship between the text and female devotion. The text is based on Scripture and tells the story of the life and passion of Christ in 100 events; the accompanying illustrations were intended to impress the story more firmly on the mind of the audience, specifically those unable to read, as Fridolin states in the preface. It thus joins other late medieval works popularizing Scripture in text and image, such as the blockbook Biblia Pauperum. In his discussion of each woodcut, Fridolin explicates the literal and metaphysical meaning of the image, thus giving the modern reader an invaluable insight into medieval interpretation of imagery. He even specifies the colouring in certain woodcuts, although the printed instruction on h2r to colour the cow red has not been heeded in this copy.
HC *14507 = H 6236; GW 10329; BMC II, 434 (IB. 7413-7414); BSB-Ink. F-263; Bod-Inc. F-107; IGI 9165; Schreiber 5202; Arnim/Schaefer, 134; Goff S-306.