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° (363 x 248mm). 290 leaves. 24 lines. Gothic (fraktur) type, abundantly flourished, xylographic title. 118 large numbered woodcuts by Jost de Negker and Heinrich Kupferworm after Leonhard Beck, Hans Burgkmair, Hans Schäufelein, and possibly three others. Printed correction slip on A6r. With the blank P5. (Title cut down, slightly shaved and laid down, small hole in q3 not affecting text, a few leaves very lightly waterstained, occasional light soiling.) 18th-century tan morocco, triple gilt fillet on sides, gilt spine in 8 compartments, lettered in one, gilt edges (upper joint split at head of spine, extremities lightly rubbed, sides a little scuffed). Provenance: Sir David Lionel Goldsmid-Stern-Salomons (1851-1925; scientific author and barrister; bookplate).
A TALL COPY, RETAINING ALL FLOURISHES. FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE FINEST ILLUSTRATED BOOKS OF THE GERMAN RENAISSANCE. This allegorical poem celebrates the exploits and heroic deeds of Emperor Maximilian, represented as Theuerdank, as he overcomes the difficulties on his journey to win his bride, Mary of Burgundy, Königin Ernreich in the poem. It forms part of a trilogy, along with Weisskunig and Fredsal, elaborating Maximilian's life, but Theuerdank was the only one to be published during the emperor's lifetime.
Maximilian was closely involved in all aspects of the work. Finishing the first drafts in 1505-1508, he entrusted his private secretary Melchior Pfintzing with the completion and editing of the text. Maximilian asked Hans Schönsperger from Augsburg to come to Nuremberg to print the work; Theuerdank is the only work printed by Schönsperger that has a Nuremberg imprint. Part of its paper stock was made specifically for the edition and bears a watermark of the double eagle with the arms of Austria and Burgundy. The series of 118 woodcuts, among the finest in early German book illustration, were designed by some of the greatest and best-known artists of the day, Hans Schäufelein, Leonhard Beck and Hans Burgkmair. The cuts were still used in later editions, as late as 1693 for an edition printed at Ulm. Additionally, a calligraphic type, attributed to Vincenz Rockner, Maximilian's court secretary, was specially cast to print the work. This fraktur, embellished with ornamental flourishes, was the model for many subsequent designs. "This edition is to be considered as a privately printed book, not intended for sale. It seems that no copies passed out of the possession of Maximilian until some time after his death" (Murray). Adams P-962; Brunet V: 787; Davies, Murray German 329.