PFINTZING, Melchior (1481-1535). Die geuerlicheiten und einsteils der geschichten des loblichen streytparen und hochberümbten helds und Ritters herr Tewrdannckhs. Nuremberg: Hans Schönsperger the Elder, [for Emperor Maximilian, 1517].
2° (362 x 238mm). PRINTED ON VELLUM. Collation: a-c8 d6 e-h8 i6 k-n8 o6 p-z A-M8.8.6 N8 O6 P8 A8 (a1 xylographic title, verso blank, a2r Pfintzing's dedicatory letter to Charles V of Spain, a3r text, P4v-5 blank, P6 conclusion, P8v blank, A1r second letter to Charles V, A1v-2v key to the characters, A2v contents, A8v colophon). 289 (of 290, lacking n4) leaves. Calligraphic type with elaborate flourishes. Xylographic title, 117 (of 118) large woodcuts by Hans Leonhard Schäufelein, Leonhard Beck, Hans Burgkmair and possibly 3 others. Correction slips pasted on 3 lvs. in final quire: A6r line 22, A6v line 26, and A8r line 13. (Three flourishes just shaved, a few small vellum flaws, a few small light stains.) 19th-century hard-grained black morocco over wooden boards bevelled at inner edge, vellum flyleaves, gilt edges (splits at joints, 2 fore-edge clasps missing). Provenance: 'AK' stamped on title-page.
DE LUXE COPY ON VELLUM OF THE FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE FINEST ILLUSTRATED BOOKS OF THE GERMAN RENAISSANCE. Tewrdanck is a chivalric poem celebrating the reign of Emperor Maximilian. As the eponymous hero Tewrdanck, Maximilian is portrayed performing a succession of feats along a journey to win Mary of Burgundy (Kunigin Ernreich) as his bride. It forms part of a trilogy, with Weisskunig and Freydal, but was the only one of the three to be published during Maximilian's lifetime.
Tewrdanck was a lavish privately-printed publication, and Maximilian himself was closely involved in all aspects of its production, from its composition to its distribution after printing. He had written first drafts in 1505-1508 and turned over the completion and general editing of the work to Melchior Pfintzing, his private secretary, who also served as chaplain to Maximilian's father-in-law and the book's dedicatee, Charles V. Maximilian called Schönsperger from Augsburg to Nuremberg to print the work in the imperial city (the only work Schönsperger printed there); a remarkable series of woodcut illustrations -- among the finest of the German Renaissance -- were 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, Maximilan's court secretary, but seems to derive from the writing books of Leonhard Wagner of Augsburg. It is one of the earliest Fraktur types, which became the standard German letterform for subsequent centuries (cf. Van Wingen, citing A.F. Johnson, 'Printing in the Sixteenth Century', The Dolphin, 1938, pp.131-2).
The Botfield copy retains nearly its full height, with only three of its flourishes just shaved. It also includes the often-missing final quire which contains a guide to the text. About 40 copies of the first edition were printed on vellum. Pasted-in slips correcting text on a few leaves in most vellum copies indicate that they were printed before the paper copies; however, Van Wingen reaches the opposite conclusion based on orthographical changes in the vellum copies (Vision of a Collector, The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection in the Library of Congress, no. 9). Maximilian's early death in 1519 interrupted personal distribution of copies, and 6 chests of copies remained in Augsburg in 1526, when their contents were distributed by Archduke Ferdinand, through Marx Treitzsauerwein, as memorials of the late Emperor. Adams P-962; Brunet V, 787; Davies, Fairfax Murray, German 329; Van Praet, Bib. du Roi IV, 347-8 (listing 31 copies).