Close BB-3 Apocalypse

[Edition V]. Incipit: ‘Conu(er)si ab ydolis p(er) predicacione(m) b(ea)ti ioha(n)nis drusiana et ceteri’. Edition V, which is the first edition of the third group of Apocalypse blockbooks, contains a cycle of 92 pictures on 48 leaves. It is a free reworking of edition IV state B from a German workshop, preserving the wording of the text exactly (Purpus, ‘Blockbücher der Apokalypse’, 91–3). As with edition IV, Bing and Purpus argue that for edition V too the woodcutters had access, as a secondary source, to a picture-book Apocalypse manuscript close to Wellcome MS. 49, and thus similar to the manuscript that was the original model for the Netherlandish edition I/II and to the presumptive secondary source for the first German edition, IV. Cf. the critical discussion of this argument, challenging the assumption that picture-book Apocalypses are likely to have been available to woodcutters in different workshops at different times and in different places, as well as the presupposition that Wellcome MS. 49 cannot be a direct or indirect copy of the blockbook, in Donati, ‘L’Apocalissi’. It remains the case, however, that edition V contains a small number of unexplained iconographical details, most notably the representation of St John holding up the eucharist on plate Ʒ2 (b), which it shares with the Wellcome and New York manuscripts against edition IV and the rest of the blockbook and manuscript tradition. The sequence of plates is as in edition IV. For facsimiles of edition V, see: L’Apocalypse reproduite en fac-similé sur l’exemplaire de la Bibliothèque Firmin-Didot, ed. A. Pilinski, Monuments de la xylographie, 1 (Paris, 1882) (New York PML Firmin-Didot/Bennett copy); Palmer, Berlin-Breslauer Sammelband, fiche 1 (Berlin copy); Lengenfelder and Müller, fiche 8 (Munich UB copy).

 [Germany, c.1468/70, impression c.1472]. Chancery folio.

 48 leaves, all with woodcuts and xylographic text, the individual plates printed on one side of the paper with the reverse blank, signatures A–T, [V strike], V, X–Z, Ʒ. The make-up of this edition varies, most commonly three quires of 16 leaves [1–316], but there is also an issue, known from three copies, with four quires of 12 leaves [1–412]. Copy-specific evidence presented below suggests that the copy in the Bodleian, like those in Munich BSB (Xyl. 3, ex informatione Bettina Wagner) and Zurich ZB (RP 103), may have been printed on both sides of the paper, with a single plate to the left and a blank page to the right on each side of the bifolium, to be assembled in four quires with blank rectos and printed versos throughout; cf. Schreiber, Manuel, IV 166, alluding to one such copy; Kristeller, Apokalypse, 5; Baurmeister 149 n. 17, commenting on the Zurich copy. In 4 of the extant copies edition V is accompanied by a handwritten German translation on added leaves. One of 9 complete copies of this edition, the others in Berlin KupferstichKab (German interleaved translation), Heidelberg UB (uncoloured), Munich BSB, New York PML, New York NYPL (German interleaved translation), Paris BnF, Pavia Museo Civico, Vienna ÖNB (German interleaved translation); imperfect copies in Cambridge UL (47 leaves), Munich UB (44 leaves), New York PML (32 leaves), Paris BnF (44 leaves), Wolfenbüttel HAB (44 printed leaves, with part of a German interleaved translation), Zurich ZB (30 leaves); fragments in Blackburn Museum (half leaf), London BL (1 leaf), Rotterdam Mus. Boymans (2 leaves), Urbana UIll(E)L (1 leaf), Washington NGA (R) (1 leaf), as well as a pair of uncoloured leaves formerly in the private collection of Victor von Klemperer in Dresden (1 leaf) and offered for sale by Dr. Jörn Günther Antiquariat, Hamburg, in 2000 (1 leaf); German translation in Munich BSB Cgm 5448 (formerly the interleaving of the Munich BSB blockbook Xyl. 6, sold as a duplicate and now untraced). The localization of this edition in Germany, broadly specified by Schreiber as southern Germany or Swabia (‘Holztafeldrucke’, 9; Manuel, IV 161), is borne out by the language of the German interleaving in several copies. Purpus has argued for a date in the later 1460s, not later than 1469, on the basis of the Berlin and Heidelberg copies which are preserved in ‘Sammelbände’ datable to c.1468/9 (‘Blockbücher’, 96), which is consonant with the watermark evidence; see also the evidence of the Gothic letter P watermark in the Paris copy (CIBN I pl. XIII no. 47), which is also attested in a West Central German manuscript of Bruder Berthold’s Rechtssumme, dated 1470, in The Hague, Royal Library, 74 A 49, fols 3r and 169r (ex informatione Gerard Van Thienen).

ills. Heinecken, Idée, pl. 9; Dutuit pls 22–3 (Paris Dutuit copy); Sotheby II pl. LXV (New York PML copy); Schreiber, Manuel, VII pl. LIII (Heidelberg copy); Kristeller, Apokalypse, pl. LIII; Blum, Origines de la gravure en bois, pls LVIII–LXII nos 73, 75, 77, 79, 81 (Paris BnF, Rés. Xylo. 8); K. Henkel, The Apocalypse, exhibition catalogue University of Maryland Art Gallery (Washington, DC, 1973), colour pl. 2, ills 17, 19, 21; O. Mazal, Buchkunst der Gotik (Graz, 1975), pl. 74 (Vienna copy); Palmer, ‘Latein und Deutsch’, 332 fig. 2 (Bodleian copy); Das Berliner Kupferstichkabinett. Ein Handbuch zur Sammlung, ed. A. Dückers (Berlin, 1994), 69–70 no. II.1 (Berlin copy).

refs. Heinecken, Idée, 335–49 (‘edition 1’); Sotheby I 24–5 (‘edition 5’); II 47–50; Firmin Didot 47 (‘edition E’); Dutuit I 140–9; Schreiber, Manuel, IV 165–6, 168–216; Hind I 223; Bing, ‘Apocalypse’, 146–8; Purpus, ‘Blockbücher der Apokalypse’, 91–3; Palmer, ‘Latein und Deutsch’, 320–1; CIBN I pp. v–vi (AA-4); Palmer, Berlin-Breslauer Sammelband, 52–7, 80–4; Müller and Lengenfelder 54–70.

copy 263 × 199 mm (woodcut on A1: 252 × 195 mm). In its present state this copy consists of 48 separate leaves, closely trimmed, especially at the left- and right-hand edges. Each leaf is now tipped to the recto of a support leaf (325 × 255 mm) of a mid-nineteenth-century album and protected by a lightweight interleaving paper. The distribution of the watermarks shows that the book originally consisted of four quires of twelve leaves. Those pairs of consecutive plates which originally lay at the centre of the quires display blocks of offset lettering in reverse, at the head and tail of the outer edges, deriving from parchment strengthening strips with Latin liturgical text (probably in an Italian hand) that have since been discarded. The offset, sometimes on the printed rectos (C2, K1, P2, [V strike]2) and sometimes on the blank versos (D1, I2, Q1, X1), occurs at the centre of all four quires, and only here, suggesting that the pairs of rectangular manuscript strips served as sewing guards, possibly from a tacketed binding structure. The position of the offset (now on the outer edges, but originally in the centrefold) indicates that the leaves of the Bodleian copy were assembled with blank rectos and printed versos, and that, like those in Munich BSB and Zurich ZB mentioned above, they must have been printed on both sides of the paper, with a single plate to the left and a blank page to the right on each side. N1 and S2, originally positioned as the first and last leaves of the third quire, are an addition to the book from another copy, possibly added as late as the early nineteenth century; they are printed on different paper and have markedly different colouring. Watermarks: The main paper stock is bull’s head with eyes and nostrils, single-contoured staff and cross, including a variant with irregular ears and a slightly longer staff (A2), PiccO VII 384 (Speyer 1472), known to Piccard only from a printed book; see Johannes de Turrecremata, Contemplationes deuotissime (Speyer: Printer of the Gesta Christi, [1472], H 15723), the second quire of which displays this watermark in the Stuttgart LB copy (Inc. 2o 15723). The added leaf S2 has a bull’s head with eyes and six-petalled rosette and cross on a single-contoured staff, PiccO XII 615 (Brixen, Ochsenfurt, Öhringen 1462 and 1463). Cf. Sotheby III pl. T (Bodleian copy). Printed in deep-black ink by rubbing. The state of the blocks is good; probably a slightly earlier impression than the Berlin and Munich UB copies, although occasionally the original details have been obscured by expert repairs, particularly of the outer edges, where in some cases missing parts of the print and coloured areas have been made good by hand, and by the blacking in of borders by an early nineteenth-century book restorer. The woodcuts are coloured in several tones of reddish purple and yellow/olive green, green, deep red, grey, and flesh-colour; at what date is not always clear. The colouring on N1 and S2 makes use of a distinctive green wash, as well as purple, grey, olive green, yellow, orange, and dark red. The details of the printing are clearly visible in this copy, being less obscured by heavy colouring than in the facsimiles of the Berlin and Munich copies. The versos have remained blank. The order of the 48 plates is recorded by a set of numbers (omitting 1, 6, and 7) inscribed in ink on the versos in an eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century hand, now partly cut away by the trimming of the upper edge of the leaves (and at a later date repeated with a correct sequence in pencil on the rectos), probably for the binder. The sequence for the second quire, currently 13, 15, 14, 16, 17, 19, 18, 20, 21, 23, 22, 24, suggests that at some point two pairs of leaves were transposed. The bifolium H1 (15) / L2 (22) appears to have been moved from third to second position in the quire, and the bifolium at the centre I2 (19) / K1 (18) was inverted. As currently assembled the order of I2 and K1 is correct, although these leaves are incorrectly numbered, whereas H1 and L2 are bound out of order and retain the positions they must have occupied before the bifolia were divided for rebinding. The position of the offset on I2 and K1, on the outer edges of the blank verso and the printed recto respectively, suggests that these two leaves were placed in the wrong order when the blockbook was first assembled.

refs. Sotheby II 50; Dutuit I 146; Pr 15; Schreiber, Manuel, IV 166 (with incorrect shelfmark ‘Auct. M. III 15’); Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 383, 398; Sheppard no. 3.

Binding: Mid-nineteenth-century album. 333 × 277 × 25 mm. Gold- and blind-tooled inboard hollow-back binding. Red tanned morocco over millboard. Sewn as a blank book with compensation stubs and a lighter interleaving paper facing each support leaf. The support leaves and the interleaving are both machine-made wove paper. The edges were trimmed and gilded before sewing. The tooling is executed with 2 fillets, 1 roll, and 1 small tool. The spine has ‘s. johannis | historia’ gold-tooled to the second panel and ‘xylograph.’ to the sixth.

Provenance: Italy; illegible inscriptions in an Italian eighteenth-century hand on A1v: ‘Pau:::: V:::::::: H::::::’, ‘L::: H::::::be ´’; inscriptions in mysterious pseudo-Latin in an earlier Italian hand on A1r (a) ‘Ionandes’ (for ‘Ioannes’) and F1r (a) ‘Cornus | agelus | sona(n)t ad | ue si bru:| Dronidj m | i natiorus | frater pau| lus’; the identity of ‘frater paulus’ is not clear. Vienna, Hofbibliothek; bought at a sale in Milan in 1839. Sold as a duplicate in 1851 (Schreiber), and brought to England in 1853 (Sotheby). A letter preserved in Vienna ÖNB, Az 254/1847, written by the Augsburg antiquarian dealer Fidelis Butsch to the Hofbibliothek, received 28 Sept. 1847, refers to their duplicate of edition V, evidently this copy, and explores the possibility of an exchange for a different blockbook Apocalypse in his possession (ex informatione Konstanze Mittendorfer).

shelfmark: Auct. M 3.14.