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Title: A Treatise on Wood Engraving - Historical and Practical
Author: Jackson, John, Chatto, William Andrew, Bohn, Henry G.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                   A TREATISE


                 WOOD ENGRAVING

           +Historical and Practical+

  with Upwards of Three Hundred Illustrations
                Engraved on Wood

                BY JOHN JACKSON.


                +Second Edition+

               with a New Chapter
       on the Artists of the Present Day

                BY HENRY G. BOHN

      And 145 Additional Wood Engravings.

   Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden.

  Richard Clay / Breads Hill / Sola Lux Mihi Laus / London]


The former edition of this History of Wood Engraving having become
extremely scarce and commercially valuable, the publisher was glad to
obtain the copyright and wood-blocks from Mr. Mason Jackson, son of the
late Mr. Jackson, original proprietor of the work, with the view of
reprinting it.

It will be seen by the two distinct prefaces which accompanied the
former edition, and are here reprinted, that there was some existing
schism between the joint producers at the time of first publication. Mr.
Jackson, the engraver, paymaster, and proprietor, conceived that he had
a right to do what he liked with his own; while Mr. Chatto, his literary
coadjutor, very naturally felt that he was entitled to some recognition
on the title-page of what he had so successfully performed. On the book
making its appearance without Mr. Chatto’s name on the title-page, and
with certain suppressions in his preface to which he had not given
consent, a virulent controversy ensued, which was embodied in a pamphlet
termed “a third preface,” and afterwards carried on in the _Athenæum_ of
August and September, 1839. As this preface has nothing in it but the
outpourings of a quarrel which can now interest no one, I do not
republish any part of it; and looking back on the controversy after the
lapse of twenty years, I cannot help feeling that Mr. Chatto had
reasonable ground for complaining that his name was omitted, although I
think Mr. Jackson had full right to determine what the book should be
called, seeing that it was his own exclusive speculation. It is not for
me to change a title now so firmly established, but I will do Mr. Chatto
the civility to introduce his name on it, without concerning myself with
the question of what he did or did not do, or what Mr. Jackson
contributed beyond his practical remarks and anxious superintendence.

Although I have the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with Mr. Chatto,
and communicated to him my intention of republishing the work,
I declined letting him see it through the press; resolving to stand
wholly responsible for any alterations or improvements I might choose to
make. On the other hand, I have been quite as chary of letting even the
shade of Mr. Jackson raise a new commotion--I say the shade, because,
having his own copy full of manuscript remarks, it was at my option to
use them; but I have adopted nothing from this source save a few
palpable amendments. What additions have been made are entirely my own,
and have arisen from a desire to increase the number of illustrations
where I thought them previously deficient and had the means of supplying
them. With the insertion of these additional illustrations, which it
appears amount to seventy-five, it became necessary to describe them,
and this has occasioned the introduction of perhaps a hundred or two
lines, which are distributed in the form of notes or paragraphs
throughout the volume. For the chief of these additions the critical
examiner is referred to the following pages: 321, 322, 340, 352, 374,
428, 468, 477, 480, 493, 530, 531, 532, 539, 540, 541, 542, 543, 545,
546, 547, 548, 617, 639. The chapter on the artists of the present day
is entirely new, and was not contemplated, as may be gathered from the
remarks at pages 549 and 597, until the book was on the eve of
publication. It contains upwards of seventy high class wood engravings,
and gives a fair specimen of the talents of some of our most
distinguished artists. Getting that supplementary matter together and
into shape, was not so light and sudden a task as I meant it to be; but
now it is done I feel that it was right to do it, and I can only hope
that my unpretending labours will be deemed a step in the right
direction. Should I retain my health, strength, and means, I purpose, at
no very distant period, to follow up the present volume with one perhaps
as large, giving a more complete series of Examples of the artists of
the day, as well those of France and Germany as of England.

In conclusion, I think it due to Mr. Clay to acknowledge the attention
and skill which he has exercised in “bringing up” the numerous and
somewhat difficult cuts to the agreeable face they now present. A good
engraving without good printing is like a diamond without its polish.


  _January 4th, 1861._


I feel it my duty to submit to the public a few remarks, introductory to
the Preface, which bears the signature of Mr. Chatto.

As my attention has been more readily directed to matters connected with
my own profession than any other, it is not surprising that I should
find almost a total absence of practical knowledge in all English
authors who have written the early history of wood engraving. From the
first occasion on which my attention was directed to the subject, to the
present time, I have had frequent occasion to regret, that the early
history and practice of the art were not to be found in any book in the
English language. In the most expensive works of this description the
process itself is not even correctly described, so that the
reader--supposing him to be unacquainted with the subject--is obliged to
follow the author in comparative darkness. It has not been without
reason I have come to the conclusion, that, if the _practice_, as well
as the _history_ of wood engraving, were _better understood_, we should
not have so many speculative opinions put forth by almost all writers on
the subject, taking on trust what has been previously written, without
giving themselves the trouble to examine and form an opinion of their
own. Both with a view to amuse and improve myself as a wood engraver,
I had long been in the habit of studying such productions of the old
masters as came within my reach, and could not help noting the simple
mistakes that many authors made in consequence of their knowing nothing
of the practice. The farther I prosecuted the inquiry, the more
interesting it became; every additional piece of information
strengthening my first opinion, that, “if the _practice_, as well as the
_history_ of wood engraving, were _better understood_,” we should not
have so many erroneous statements respecting both the history and
capabilities of the art. At length, I determined upon engraving at my
leisure hours a fac-simile of anything I thought worth preserving. For
some time I continued to pursue this course, reading such English
authors as have written on the origin and early history of wood
engraving, and making memoranda, without proposing to myself any
particular plan. It was not until I had proceeded thus far that I
stopped to consider whether the information I had gleaned could not be
applied to some specific purpose. My plan, at this time, was to give a
short introductory history to precede the practice of the art, which I
proposed should form the principal feature in the Work. At this period,
I was fortunate in procuring the able assistance of Mr. W. A. Chatto,
with whom I have examined every work that called for the exercise of
practical knowledge. This naturally anticipated much that had been
reserved for the practice, and has, in some degree, extended the
historical portion beyond what I had originally contemplated; although,
I trust, the reader will have no occasion to regret such a deviation
from the original plan, or that it has not been _written_ by myself. The
number and variety of the subjects it has been found necessary to
introduce, rendered it a task of some difficulty to preserve the
characteristics of each individual master, varying as they do in the
style of execution. It only remains for me to add, that, although I had
the hardihood to venture upon such an undertaking, it was not without a
hope that the history of the art, with an account of the practice,
illustrated with numerous wood engravings, would be looked upon with
indulgence from one who only professed to give a fac-simile of whatever
appeared worthy of notice, with opinions founded on a practical
knowledge of the art.


  LONDON, _December 15th, 1838_.


Though several English authors have, in modern times, written on the
origin and early history of wood engraving, yet no one has hitherto
given, in a distinct work, a connected account of its progress from the
earliest period to the present time; and no one, however confidently he
may have expressed his opinion on the subject, appears to have thought
it necessary to make himself acquainted with the practice of the art.
The antiquity and early history of wood engraving appear to have been
considered as themes which allowed of great scope for speculation, and
required no practical knowledge of the art. It is from this cause that
we find so many erroneous statements in almost every modern dissertation
on wood engraving. Had the writers ever thought of appealing to a person
practically acquainted with the art, whose early productions they
professed to give some account of, their conjectures might, in many
instances, have been spared; and had they, in matters requiring
research, taken the pains to examine and judge for themselves, instead
of adopting the opinions of others, they would have discovered that a
considerable portion of what they thus took on trust, was not in
accordance with facts.

As the antiquity and early history of wood engraving form a considerable
portion of two expensive works which profess to give some account of the
art, it has been thought that such a work as the present, combining the
history with the practice of the art, and with numerous cuts
illustrative of its progress, decline, and revival, might not be
unfavourably received.

In the first chapter an attempt is made to trace the principle of wood
engraving from the earliest authentic period; and to prove, by a
continuous series of facts, that the art, when first applied to the
impression of pictorial subjects on paper, about the beginning of the
fifteenth century, was not so much an original invention, as the
extension of a principle which had long been known and practically

The second chapter contains an account of the progress of the art as
exemplified in the earliest known single cuts, and in the block-books
which preceded the invention of typography. In this chapter there is
also an account of the Speculum Salvationis, which has been ascribed to
Laurence Coster by Hadrian Junius, Scriverius, Meerman, and others, and
which has frequently been described as an early block-book executed
previous to 1440. A close examination of two Latin editions of the book
has, however, convinced me, that in the earliest the text is entirely
printed from movable types, and that in the other--supposed by Meerman
to be the earliest, and to afford proofs of the progress of Coster’s
invention--those portions of the text which are printed from wood-blocks
have been copied from the corresponding portions of the earlier edition
with the text printed entirely from movable types. Fournier was the
first who discovered that one of the Latin editions was printed partly
from types, and partly from wood-blocks; and the credit of showing, from
certain imperfections in the cuts, that this edition was subsequent to
the other with the text printed entirely from types, is due to the late
Mr. Ottley.

As typography, or printing from movable types, was unquestionably
suggested by the earliest block-books with the text engraved on wood,
the third chapter is devoted to an examination of the claims of
Gutemberg and Coster to the honour of this invention. In the
investigation of the evidence which has been produced in the behalf of
each, the writer has endeavoured to divest his mind of all bias, and to
decide according to facts, without reference to the opinions of either
party. He has had no theory to support; and has neither a partiality for
Mentz, nor a dislike to Harlem. It perhaps may not be unnecessary to
mention here, that the cuts of arms from the History of the Virgin,
given at pages 75, 76, and 77, were engraved before the writer had seen
Koning’s work on the Invention of Printing, Harlem, 1816, where they are
also copied, and several of them assigned to Hannau, Burgundy, Brabant,
Utrecht, and Leyden, and to certain Flemish noblemen, whose names are
not mentioned. It is not improbable that, like the two rash Knights in
the fable, we may have seen the shields on opposite sides;--the bearings
may be common to states and families, both of Germany and the

The fourth chapter contains an account of wood engraving in connexion
with the press, from the establishment of typography to the latter end
of the fifteenth century. The fifth chapter comprehends the period in
which Albert Durer flourished,--that is, from about 1498 to 1528. The
sixth contains a notice of the principal wood-cuts designed by Holbein,
with an account of the extension and improvement of the art in the
sixteenth century, and of its subsequent decline. In the seventh chapter
the history of the art is brought down from the commencement of the
eighteenth century to the present time.

The eighth chapter contains an account of the practice of the art, with
remarks on metallic relief engraving, and the best mode of printing
wood-cuts. As no detailed account of the practice of wood engraving has
hitherto been published in England, it is presumed that the information
afforded by this part of the Work will not only be interesting to
amateurs of the art, but useful to those who are professionally
connected with it.

It is but justice to Mr. Jackson to add, that the Work was commenced by
him at his sole risk; that most of the subjects are of his selection;
and that nearly all of them were engraved, and that a great part of the
Work was written, before he thought of applying to a publisher. The
credit of commencing the Work, and of illustrating it so profusely,
regardless of expense, is unquestionably due to him.


  LONDON, _December 5th, 1838_.


  [Transcriber’s Note:
  The word “ditto”--written out--was printed as shown.]


  Initial letter A,-- an ancient Greek _scriving_ on a tablet
    of wood, drawn by W. Harvey                                     1
  View of a rolling-press, on wood and on copper, showing the
    difference between a woodcut and a copper-plate engraving
    when both are printed in the same manner                        4
  Back and front view of an ancient Egyptian brick-stamp            6
  Copy of an impression on a Babylonian brick                       7
  Roman stamp, in relief                                            8
  Roman stamps, in intaglio                                        10
  Monogram of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths                    13
  Monogram of Charlemagne                                          14
  Gothic marks and monograms                                       15
  Characters on Gothic coins                                       16
  Mark of an Italian notary, 1236                                  16
  Marks of German notaries, 1345-1521                              17
  English Merchants’-marks of the fourteenth and fifteenth
    centuries                                                      18
  Tail-piece, illustrative of the antiquity of engraving,--
    Babylonian brick, Roman earthenware, Roman stamp, and a
    roll with the mark of the German Emperor Otho in the
    corner                                                         39


  Initial letter F, from an old book containing an alphabet of
    similar letters, engraved on wood, formerly belonging to
    Sir George Beaumont                                            40
  St. Christopher, with the date 1423, from a cut in the
    possession of Earl Spencer                                     46
  The Annunciation, from a cut probably of the same period, in
    the possession of Earl Spencer                                 50
  St. Bridget, from an old cut in the possession of Earl
    Spencer                                                        52
  Shields from the Apocalypse, or History of St. John, an old
    block-book                                                     65
  St. John preaching to the infidels, and baptizing Drusiana,
    from the same book                                             66
  The death of the Two Witnesses, and the miracles of
    Antichrist, from the same book                                 67
  Group from the History of the Virgin, an old block-book          71
  Copy of a page of the same book                                  72
  Figures and a shield of arms, from the same book                 75
  Shields of arms, from the same book                              76-78
  Copy of the first page of the Poor Preachers’ Bible, an old
    block-book                                                     86
  Heads from the same book                                         88
  Christ tempted, a fac-simile of one of the compartments in
    the first page of the same book                                89
  Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit, from the same
    book                                                           90
  Esau selling his birthright, ditto                               91
  Heads ditto                                                      92
  First cut in the Speculum Salvationis, which has generally,
    but erroneously, been described as a block-book, as the
    text in the first edition is printed with types                96
  Fall of Lucifer, a fac-simile of one of the compartments of
    the preceding                                                  97
  The Creation of Eve, a fac-simile of the second compartment
    of the same                                                    98
  Paper-mark in the Alphabet of large letters composed of
    figures, formerly belonging to Sir George Beaumont            107
  Letter K, from the same book                                    109
  Letter L, ditto                                                 110
  Letter Z, ditto                                                 111
  Flowered ornament, ditto                                        112
  Cuts from the Ars Memorandi, an old block-book                  115


  Initial letter B, from a manuscript life of St. Birinus, of
    the twelfth century                                           118
  Tail piece-portraits of Gutemberg, Faust, and Scheffer          163


  Initial letter C, from Faust and Scheffer’s Psalter             164
  Apes, from a book of Fables printed at Bamberg by Albert
    Pfister, 1461                                                 171
  Heads, from an edition of the Poor Preachers’ Bible, printed
    by Pfister                                                    177
  Christ and his Disciples, from the same                         177
  Joseph making himself known to his Brethren, from the same      178
  The Prodigal Son’s return, from the same                        178
  The Creation of Animals, from Meditationes Joannis de
    Turrecremata, printed at Rome, 1467                           185
  A bomb-shell and a man shooting from a kind of hand-gun,
    from Valturius de Re Militari, printed at Verona, 1472        188
  A man shooting from a cross-bow, from the same                  189
  The Knight, from Caxton’s Book of Chess, about 1476             193
  The Bishop’s pawn, from the same                                194
  Two figures-- Music, from Caxton’s Mirrour of the World,
    1480                                                          196
  Frontispiece to Breydenbach’s Travels, printed at Mentz,
    1486                                                          207
  Syrian Christians, from the same                                209
  Old Woman with a basket of eggs on her head, from the Hortus
    Sanitatis, printed at Mentz, 1491                             211
  Head of Paris, from the book usually called the Nuremberg
    Chronicle, printed at Nuremberg, 1493                         212
  Creation of Eve, from the same                                  215
  The same subject from the Poor Preachers’ Bible                 216
  The difficult Labour of Alcmena, from an Italian translation
    of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, 1497                                 217
  Mars, Venus, and Mercury, from Poliphili Hypnerotomachia,
    printed at Venice, 1499                                       221
  Cupid brought by Mercury before Jove, from the same             222
  Cupid and his Victims, from the same                            222
  Bacchus, from the same                                          223
  Cupid, from the same                                            224
  A Vase, from the same                                           224
  Cat and Mouse, from a supposed old wood-cut printed in
    Derschau’s Collection, 1808-1816                              226
  Man in armour on horseback, from a wood-cut, formerly used
    by Mr. George Angus of Newcastle                              228
  Tail-piece-- the press of Jodocus Badius Ascensianus, from
    the title-page of a book printed by him about 1498            229


  Initial letter M, from an edition of Ovid’s Tristia, printed
    at Venice by J. de Cireto, 1499                               230
  Peasants dancing and regaling, from Heures a l’Usaige de
    Chartres, printed at Paris by Simon Vostre about 1502. The
    first of these cuts occurs in a similar work-- Heures a
    l’Usaige de Rome-- printed by Simon Vostre in 1497            233
  The woman clothed with the sun, from Albert Durer’s
    illustrations of the Apocalypse, 1498                         240
  The Virgin and Infant Christ, from Albert Durer’s
    illustrations of the History of the Virgin, 1511              243
  The Birth of the Virgin, from the same work                     244
  St. Joseph at work as a carpenter, with the Virgin rocking
    the Infant Christ in a cradle, from the same                  246
  Christ mocked, from Durer’s illustrations of Christ’s
    Passion, about 1511                                           247
  The Last Supper, from the same                                  248
  Christ bearing his Cross, from the same                         249
  The Descent to Hades, from the same                             250
  Caricature, probably of Luther                                  268
  Albert Durer’s Coat-of-arms                                     271
  His portrait, from a cut drawn by himself, 1527, the year
    preceding that of his death                                   272
  Holy Family, from a cut designed by Lucas Cranach               277
  Samson and Delilah, from a cut designed by Hans Burgmair        279
  Aristotle and his wife, from a cut designed by Hans
    Burgmair                                                      280
  Sir Theurdank killing a bear, from the Adventures of Sir
    Theurdank, 1517                                               284
  The punishment of Sir Theurdank’s enemies, from the same
    work                                                          285
  A figure on horseback, from the Triumphs of Maximilian          294
  Another, from the same work                                     295
  Ditto, ditto                                                    296
  Ditto, ditto                                                    297
  Ditto, ditto                                                    298
  Ditto, ditto                                                    299
  Three knights with banners, from the same work                  301
  Elephant and Indians, from the same                             302
  Camp followers, probably designed by Albert Durer, from the
    same                                                          303
  Horses and Car, from the same                                   305
  Jael and Sisera, from a cut designed by Lucas van Leyden        309
  Cut printed at Antwerp by Willem de Figursnider, probably
    copied from a cut designed by Urse Graff                      312
  Three small cuts from Sigismund Fanti’s Triompho di Fortuna,
    printed at Venice, 1527                                       316
  Fortuna di Africo, an emblem of the South wind, from the
    same work                                                     316
  Michael Angelo at work on a piece of sculpture, from the
    same                                                          317
  Head of Nero, from a work on Medals, printed at Strasburg,
    1525                                                          320
  Cut of Saint Bridget, about 1500, from Dr. Dibdin’s
    Bibliomania                                                   321
  Ditto of her Revelations                                        322
  Tail-piece-- a full length of Maximilian I. Emperor of
    Germany, from his Triumphs                                    323


  Initial letter T, from a book printed at Paris by Robert
    Stephens, 1537                                                324
  Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, from a cut designed
    by Hans Holbein in the Dance of Death, first printed at
    Lyons in 1538                                                 339
  Death’s Coat of Arms, from the same work                        340
  The Old Man, from the same                                      341
  The Duchess, from the same                                      342
  The Child, from the same                                        343
  The Waggoner, from Holbein’s Dance of Death                     344
  Child with a shield and dart, from the same                     345
  Children with the emblems of a triumph, from the same           346
  Holbein’s Alphabet of the Dance of Death                        352
  Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, from a cut designed by
    Holbein in his Bible-prints, Lyons, 1539                      368
  The Fool, from the same work                                    369
  The sheath of a dagger, intended as a design for a chaser       374
  Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt from a cut designed by Holbein
    in Leland’s Næniæ, 1542                                       379
  Prayer, from a cut designed by Holbein in Archbishop
    Cranmer’s Catechism, 1548                                     380
  Christ casting out Devils, from another cut by Holbein, in
    the same work                                                 381
  The Creation, from the same work                                382
  The Crucifixion, from the same                                  382
  Christ’s Agony, from the same                                   382
  Genealogical Tree, from an edition of the New Testament,
    printed at Zurich by Froschover, 1554                         383
  St. Luke, from Tindale’s Translation of the New Testament,
    1534                                                          384
  St James, from the same                                         384
  Death on the Pale Horse, from the same                          384
  Cain killing Abel, from Coverdale’s Translation of the Old
    and New Testament, 1535                                       386
  Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, from the same                 387
  The Two Spies, from the same                                    387
  St. Matthew, from the same                                      388
  St. John the Baptist, from the same                             388
  St. Paul writing, from the same                                 388
  Frontispiece to Marcolini’s Sorti, Venice, 1540, by Joseph
    Porta Garfagninus, after a Study by Raffaele for the
    School of Athens                                              390
  Punitione, from the same work                                   392
  Matrimony, from the same                                        392
  Cards, from the same                                            393
  Truth saved by Time, from the same                              393
  The Labour of Alcmena, from Dolce’s Transformationi, Venice,
    1553                                                          394
  Monogram, from Palatino’s Treatise on Writing, Rome, 1561       396
  Hieroglyphic Sonnet, from the same work                         396
  Portraits of Petrarch and Laura, from Petrarch’s Sonetti,
    Lyons, 1547                                                   400
  Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise, from Quadrins
    Historiques de la Bible, Lyons, 1550-1560                     401
  Christ tempted by Satan, from Figures du Nouveau Testament,
    Lyons, 1553-1570                                              402
  Briefmaler, from a book of Trades and Professions,
    Frankfort, 1564-1574                                          410
  Formschneider, from the same                                    411
  The Goose Tree, from Sebastian Munster’s Cosmography, Basle,
    1550-1554                                                     414
  William Tell about to shoot at the apple on his son’s head,
    from the same                                                 416
  Portrait of Dr. William Cuningham, from his Cosmographical
    Glass, London, 1559                                           424
  Four initial letters, from the same work              425, 426, 427
  Portrait of Queen Elizabeth, from the Books of Christian
    Prayers printed by John Daye, 1569                            428
  Large initial letter, from Fox’s Acts and Monuments, 1576       429
  Initial letter, from a work printed by Giolito at Venice,
    about 1550                                                    430
  Two Cats, from an edition of Dante, printed at Venice, 1578     431
  Emblem of Water, from a chiaro-scuro by Henry Goltzius,
    about 1590                                                    433
  Caricature of the Laocoon, after a cut designed by Titian       435
  The Good Householder, from a cut printed at London, 1607        437
  Virgin and Christ, from a cut designed by Rubens, and
    engraved by Christopher Jegher                                438
  The Infant Christ and John the Baptist, from a cut designed
    by Rubens, and engraved by Christopher Jegher                 439
  Jael and Sisera, from a cut designed by Henry Goltzius, and
    engraved by C. Van Sichem                                     440
  Tail-piece, from an old cut on the title-page of the first
    known edition of Robin Hood’s Garland, 1670                   445


  Initial letter A, from a French book, 1698                      446
  Fox and Goat, from a copper-plate by S. Le Clerc, about
    1694                                                          450
  The same subject from Croxall’s Æsop’s Fables, 1722             450
  The same subject from Bewick’s Fables, 1818-1823                451
  English wood-cut with the mark F. H., London, 1724              453
  Adam naming the animals, copy of a cut by Papillon, 1734        460
  The Pedagogue, from the Ship of Fools, Pynson, 1509             468
  The Poet’s Fall, from Two Odes in ridicule of Gray and
    Mason, London, 1760                                           470
  Initial letters, T. and B., composed by J. Jackson from
    tail-pieces in Bewick’s History of British Birds              471
  The house in which Bewick was born, drawn by J. Jackson         472
  The Parsonage at Ovingham, drawn by George Balmer               473
  Fac-simile of a diagram engraved by Bewick in Hutton’s
    Mensuration, 1768-1770                                        475
  The Old Hound, a fac-simile of a cut by Bewick, 1775            476
  Original cut of the Old Hound                                   477
  Cuts copied by Bewick from Der Weiss Kunig, and
    illustrations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Virgilium Solis      483
  Boys and Ass, after Bewick                                      485
  Old Man and Horse, ditto                                        486
  Child and young Horse, ditto                                    487
  Ewe and Lamb                                                    488
  Old Man and young Wife, ditto                                   488
  Common Duck, ditto                                              493
  Partridge, ditto                                                495
  Woodcock, ditto                                                 496
  The drunken Miller, ditto                                       499
  The Snow Man, ditto                                             499
  Old Man and Cat, ditto                                          500
  Crow and Lamb, Bewick’s original cut to the Fable of the
    Eagle                                                         503
  The World turned upside down, after Bewick                      504
  Cuts commemorative of the decease of Bewick’s father and
    mother, from his Fables, 1818-1823                            506
  Bewick’s Workshop, drawn by George Balmer                       508
  Portrait of Bewick                                              510
  View of Bewick’s Burial-place                                   511
  Funeral, View of Ovingham Church, drawn by J. Jackson           512
  The sad Historian, from a cut by John Bewick, in Poems by
    Goldsmith and Parnell, 1795                                   515
  Fac-simile of a cut by John Bewick, from Blossoms of
    Morality                                                      516
  Copy of a cut engraved by C. Nesbit, from a drawing by
    R. Johnson                                                    518
  View of a monument erected to the memory of R. Johnson,
    against the south wall of Ovingham Church                     518
  Copy of a view of St. Nicholas Church, engraved by
    C. Nesbit, from a drawing by R. Johnson                       519
  Copy of the cut for the Diploma of the Highland Society,
    engraved by L. Clennell, from a drawing by Benjamin West      523
  Bird and Flowers, engraved by L. Clennell, when insane          526
  Seven Engravings by William Harvey, from Dr. Henderson’s
    History of Wines                                              530
  Milton, designed by W. Harvey, engraved by John Thompson        531
  Three Illustrations by W. Harvey, engraved by S. Williams,
    Orrin Smith, and C. Gray                                      532
  Cut from the Children in the Wood, drawn by W. Harvey, and
    engraved by J. Thompson                                       533
  Cut from the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, drawn by
    W. Harvey, and engraved by C. Nesbit                          534
  Copy of a part of the Cave of Despair, engraved by
    R. Branston, from a drawing by J. Thurston                    535
  Three cuts engraved by Robert Branston, after designs by
    Thurston, for an edition of Select Fables, in rivalry of
    Bewick                                                        537
  Bird, engraved by Robert Branston                               538
  Pistill Cain, in North Wales, drawn and engraved by Hugh
    Hughes                                                        539
  Moel Famau, ditto, ditto                                        539
  Wrexham Church, ditto, ditto                                    540
  Pwll Carodoc, ditto, ditto                                      540
  Salmon, Group of Fish, and Chub, engraved by John Thompson      541
  Pike, by Robert Branston                                        542
  Eel, by H. White                                                542
  Illustration from Hudibras, engraved by John Thompson           543
  Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress, engraved by John Thompson            544
  The Temptation, engraved by John Jackson, after John Martin     545
  The Judgment of Adam and Eve, engraved by F. W. Branston,
    after ditto                                                   545
  The Assuaging of the Waters, engraved by E. Landells, after
    ditto                                                         546
  The Deluge, engraved by W. H. Powis, after ditto                546
  The Tower of Babel engraved by Thomas Williams, after ditto     547
  The Angel announcing the Nativity, engraved by W. T. Green,
    after ditto                                                   547
  Tail piece-- Vignette, engraved by W. T. Green, after
    W. Harvey                                                     548


  The Sierra Morena, engraved by James Cooper, after Percival
    Skelton                                                       550
  The Banks the Nith, engraved by ditto, after Birket Foster      551
  The Twa Dogs, engraved by ditto, after Harrison Weir            551
  To Auld Mare Maggie, engraved by ditto, after ditto             552
  The Poetry of Nature, engraved by J. Greenaway, after
    Harrison Weir                                                 553
  From Bloomfield’s Farmer’s Boy, engraved by W. Wright, after
    ditto                                                         554
  From Campbell’s Pleasures of Hope, engraved by J. Greenaway,
    after ditto                                                   554
  From the same, by the same                                      555
  Wild Flowers, engraved by E. Evans, after Birket Foster         556
  From Lays of the Holy Land, engraved by W. J. Palmer, after
    Birket Foster                                                 557
  From Longfellow’s Evangeline, engraved by H. Vizetelly,
    after ditto                                                   558
  From Moore’s Lalla Rookh, engraved by Dalziel, after John
    Tenniel                                                       559
  Death of Sforza, from Barry Cornwall, engraved by Dalziel,
    after ditto                                                   560
  Sforza, ditto, ditto                                            560
  Antony and Cleopatra, engraved by Dalziel Brothers, after
    John Gilbert                                                  561*
  The Florentine Party, from Barry Cornwall, engraved by
    Dalziel Brothers, after Thomas Dalziel                        562*
  Prince Arthur and Hubert de Bourg, engraved by Kirchner,
    after John Gilbert                                            563*
  From Maxwell’s Life of the Duke of Wellington, designed by
    John Gilbert                                                  563*
  The Demon Lover, designed by John Gilbert, engraved by W. A.
    Folkard                                                       564*
  From Longfellow’s Hiawatha, engraved by W. L. Thomas, after
    G. H. Thomas                                                  565*
  From the same, engraved by Horace Harral, after G. H.
    Thomas                                                        566*
  From the same, engraved by Dalziel Brothers, after ditto        566*
  John Anderson my Jo, from Burns’ Poems, engraved by
    E. Evans, after ditto                                         567*
  Vignette from Hiawatha, engraved by E. Evans, after ditto       567*
  From Tennyson’s Princess, engraved by W. Thomas, after
    D. Maclise                                                    568*
  From Bürger’s Leonora, engraved by J. Thompson, after
    Maclise                                                       569*
  From Childe Harold, engraved by J. W. Whimper, after
    Percival Skelton                                              569*
  From Marryat’s Poor Jack, engraved by H. Vizetelly, after
    Clarkson Stanfield                                            570*
  Christmas in the olden time, engraved by H. Vizetelly, after
    Birket Foster                                                 571*
  Two illustrations from Thomson’s Seasons, designed and
    engraved by Sam Williams.                                     572*
  Eagles, Stags, and Wolves, engraved by George Pearson, after
    John Wolf                                                     573*
  Hare Hawking, engraved by George Pearson, after John Wolf       574*
  Falls of Niagara, engraved by George Pearson                    574*
  From Sandford and Merton, engraved by Measom, after
    H. Anelay                                                     575*
  From Longfellow’s Miles Standish, engraved by Thomas Bolton,
    after John Absolon                                            576*
  Flaxman’s ‘Deliver us from Evil,’ a specimen of Mr. Thomas
    Bolton’s new process of photographing on wood                 577*
  From Montalva’s Fairy Tales, engraved by John Swain, after
    R. Doyle                                                      578*
  From ‘Brown, Jones, and Robinson,’ engraved by John Swain,
    after Doyle                                                   579*
  From Uncle Tom’s Cabin, engraved by Orrin Smith, after John
    Leech                                                         580*
  From Mr. Leech’s Tour in Ireland, engraved by John Swain,
    after John Leech                                              581*
  From ‘Moral Emblems of all Ages,’ engraved by H. Leighton,
    after John Leighton                                           582*
  Two subjects from the Illustrated Southey’s Life of Nelson,
    engraved by H. Harral, after E. Duncan                        583*
  North porch of St. Maria Maggiore, drawn and engraved by
    Orlando Jewitt                                                584*
  Shrine in Bayeux Cathedral, by Orlando Jewitt                   585*
  Hearse of Margaret Countess of Warwick and other specimens
    from Regius Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament, by
    Orlando Jewitt                                                586*
  Brick Tracery, St. Stephen’s Church, Tangermunde, Prussia,
    by ditto                                                      587*
  The Nut Brown Maid, engraved by J. Williams, after
    T. Creswick                                                   588*
  Vignette from Bohn’s Illustrated Edition of Walton’s Angler,
    by M. Jackson, after T. Creswick                              589*
  Paul preaching at Athens, engraved by W. J. Linton, after
    John Martin                                                   590*
  Vignette from the Book of British Ballads, engraved by
    ditto, after R. McIan                                         590*
  From Milton’s L’Allegro, engraved by ditto, after
    Stonehouse                                                    591*
  From the same, engraved by ditto, after J. C. Horsley           591*
  Ancient Gambols, drawn and engraved by F. W. Fairholt           592*
  Vignette from the Illustrated Edition of Robin Hood, by
    ditto                                                         592*
  Two illustrations from Dr. Mantell’s Works, engraved by
    James Lee, after Joseph Dinkel                                593*
  From Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, engraved by H. Harral,
    after E. H. Wehnert                                           594*
  Three illustrations drawn and engraved by George Cruikshank,
    from ‘Three Courses and a Dessert’                            595*
  Two illustrations by ditto from the Universal Songster          596*
  Three illustrations from the Pictorial Grammar, by
    Crowquill                                                     597*
  Vignette from the Book of British Ballads by Kenny Meadows      597*


  Initial letter P, showing a wood engraver at work, with his
    lamp and globe, drawn by R. W. Buss                           561
  Diagram, showing a block warped                                 566
  Cut showing the appearance of a plug-hole in the engraving,
    drawn by J. Jackson                                           570
  Diagrams illustrative of the mode of repairing a block by
    plugging                                                      570
  Cut showing a plug re-engraved                                  571
  Diagram showing the mode of pulling the string over the
    corner of the block                                           572
  The shade for the eyes, and screen for the mouth and nose       574
  Engraver’s lamp, glass, globe, and sand-bag                     575
  Graver                                                          576
  Diagram of gravers                                              576
  Diagrams of tint-tools, &c.                                     577
  Diagrams of gouges, chisels, &c.                                578
  Gravers                                                         579
  Cuts showing the manner of holding the graver              579, 580
  Examples of tints                                581, 582, 583, 584
  Examples of curved lines and tints                         585, 586
  Cuts illustrative of the mode of cutting a white outline        588
  Outline engraving previous to its being blocked out-- the
    monument to the memory of two children in Lichfield
    Cathedral by Sir F. Chantrey                                  589
  The same subject finished                                       590
  Outline engraving, after a design by Flaxman for a snuff-box
    for George IV.                                                590
  Cut after a pen-and-ink sketch by Sir David Wilkie for his
    picture of the Rabbit on the Wall                             591
  Figures from a sketch by George Morland                         592
  Group from Sir David Wilkie’s Rent Day                          593
  Figure of a boy from Hogarth’s Noon, one of the engravings
    of his Four Parts of the Day                                  594
  A Hog, after an etching by Rembrandt                            595
  Dray-horse, drawn by James Ward, R.A.                           596
  Jacob blessing the Children of Joseph, after Rembrandt          597
  Two cuts-- View of a Road-side Inn-- showing the advantage
    of cutting the tint before the other parts of a subject
    are engraved                                                  598
  Head, from an etching by Rembrandt                              599
  Impression from a cast of part of the Death of Dentatus,
    engraved by W. Harvey                                         601
  Christ and the Woman at the Well, from an etching by
    Rembrandt                                                     602
  The Flight into Egypt, from an etching by Rembrandt             605
  Sea-piece, drawn by George Balmer                               606
  Sea-piece, moonlight, drawn by George Balmer                    606
  Landscape, evening, drawn by George Balmer                      607
  Impression from a cast of part of the Death of Dentatus,
    engraved by W. Harvey                                         609
  View of Rouen Cathedral, drawn by William Prior                 611
  Map of England and Wales, with the part of the names
    engraved on wood, and part inserted in type                   612
  Group from Sir David Wilkie’s Village Festival                  614
  Natural _Vignette_, and an old ornamented capital from a
    manuscript of the thirteenth century                          616
  Specimens of ornamental capitals, chiefly taken from Shaw’s
    Alphabets                                                     617
  Impressions from a surface with the figures in relief--
    subject, the Crown-piece of George IV.                        618
  Impressions from a surface with the figures in intaglio--
    same subject                                                  619
  Shepherd’s Dog, drawn by W. Harvey                              620
  Egret, drawn by W. Harvey                                       621
  Winter-piece, with an ass and her foal, drawn by J. Jackson     622
  Salmon-Trout, with a view of Bywell-Lock, drawn by
    J. Jackson                                                    623
  Boy and Pony, drawn by J. Jackson                               624
  Heifer, drawn by W. Harvey                                      624
  Descent from the Cross, after an etching by Rembrandt--
    impression when the block is merely lowered previous to
    engraving the subject                                         626
  Descent from the Cross-- impression from the finished cut       627
  Copies of an ancient bust in the British Museum-- No. 1
    printed from a wood-cut, and No. 2 from a cast                637
  Block reduced from a Lithograph by the new Electro-printing
    Block process                                                 639
  Horse and Ass, drawn by J. Jackson-- improperly printed         641
  Same subject, properly printed                                  642
  Landscape, drawn by George Balmer-- improperly printed          644
  Same subject, properly printed                                  644
  Tail-piece, drawn by C. Jacques                                 652





  Engraving -- The Word Explained -- The Art Defined -- Distinction
  Between Engraving on Copper and on Wood -- Early Practice of the Art
  of Impressing Characters by Means of Stamps Instanced in Babylonian
  Bricks; Fragments of Egyptian and Etruscan Earthenware; Roman Lamps,
  Tiles, and Amphoræ -- The Cauterium or Brand -- Principle of
  Stencilling Known to the Romans -- Royal Signatures thus Affixed --
  Practice of Stamping Monograms on Documents in the Middle Ages --
  Notarial Stamps -- Merchants’-Marks -- Coins, Seals, and Sepulchral
  Brasses -- Examination of Mr. Ottley’s Opinions Concerning the
  Origin of the Art of Wood Engraving in Europe, and its Early
  Practice by Two Wonderful Children, the Cunio.

As few persons know, even amongst those who profess to be admirers of
the art of Wood Engraving, by what means its effects, as seen in books
and single impressions, are produced, and as a yet smaller number
understand in what manner it specifically differs in its procedure from
the art of engraving on copper or steel, it appears necessary, before
entering into any historic detail of its progress, to premise a few
observations explanatory of the word ENGRAVING in its general
acceptation, and more particularly descriptive of that branch of the art
which several persons call Xylography; but which is as clearly
expressed, and much more generally understood, by the term WOOD

The primary meaning of the verb “to engrave” is defined by Dr. Johnson,
“to picture by incisions in any matter;” and he derives it from the
French “_engraver_.” The great lexicographer is not, however, quite
correct in his derivation; for the French do not use the verb “engraver”
in the sense of “to engrave,” but to signify a ship or a boat being
embedded in sand or mud so that she cannot float. The French synonym of
the English verb “to engrave,” is “graver;” and its root is to be found
in the Greek γράφω (_grapho_, I cut), which, with its compound ἐπιγράφω,
according to Martorelli, as cited by Von Murr,[I-1] is always used by
Homer to express cutting, incision, or wounding; but never to express
writing by the superficial tracing of characters with a reed or pen.
From the circumstance of laws, in the early ages of Grecian history,
being cut or engraved on wood, the word γράφω came to be used in the
sense of, “I sanction, or I pass a law;” and when, in the progress of
society and the improvement of art, letters, instead of being cut on
wood, were indented by means of a skewer-shaped instrument (stylus) on
wax spread on tablets of wood or ivory, or written by means of a pen or
reed on papyrus or on parchment, the word γράφω, which in its primitive
meaning signified “to cut,” became expressive of writing generally.

    [Footnote I-1: C. G. Von Murr, in his Journal zur Kunstgeschichte,
    2 Theil, S. 253, referring to Martorelli, De Regia Theca

From γράφω is derived the Latin _scribo_,[I-2] “I write;” and it is
worthy of observation, that “_to scrive_,”--most probably from
_scribo_,--signifies, in our own language, to cut numerals or other
characters on timber with a tool called a _scrive_: the word thus
passing, as it were, through a circle of various meanings and in
different languages, and at last returning to its original

    [Footnote I-2: If this etymology be correct, the English Scrivener
    and French _Greffier_ may be related by descent as well as
    professionally; both words being thus referable to the same
    origin, the Greek γράφω. The modern _Writer_ in the Scottish
    courts of law performs the duties both of Scrivener and Greffier,
    with whose name his own is synonymous.]

Under the general term SCULPTURE--the root of which is to be found in
the Latin verb _sculpo_, “I cut”--have been classed copper-plate
engraving, wood engraving, gem engraving, and carving, as well as the
art of the statuary or figure-cutter in marble, to which art the word
_sculpture_ is now more strictly applied, each of those arts requiring
in its process the act of _cutting_ of one kind or other. In the German
language, which seldom borrows its terms of art from other languages,
the various modes of cutting in sculpture, in copper-plate engraving,
and in engraving on wood, are indicated in the name expressive of the
operator or artist. The sculptor is named a _Bildhauer_, from _Bild_, a
statue, and _hauen_, to hew, indicating the operation of cutting with a
mallet and chisel; the copper-plate engraver is called a
_Kupfer-stecher_, from _Kupfer_, copper, and _stechen_, to dig or cut
with the point; and the wood engraver is a _Holzschneider_, from _Holz_,
wood, and _schneiden_, to cut with the edge.

It is to be observed, that though both the copper-plate engraver and the
wood engraver may be said to _cut_ in a certain sense, as well as the
sculptor and the carver, they have to execute their work
_reversed_,--that is, contrary to the manner in which impressions from
their plates or blocks are seen; and that in copying a painting or a
drawing, it requires to be reversely transferred,--a disadvantage under
which the sculptor and the carver do not labour, as they copy their
models or subjects _direct_.

ENGRAVING, as the word is at the present time popularly used, and
considered in its relation to the pictorial art, may be defined to
be--“The art of representing objects on metallic substances, or on wood,
expressed by lines and points produced by means of corrosion, incision,
or excision, for the purpose of their being impressed on paper by means
of ink or other colouring matter.”

The impressions obtained from engraved _plates_ of metal or from
_blocks_ of wood are commonly called engravings, and sometimes prints.
Formerly the word _cuts_[I-3] was applied indiscriminately to
impressions, either from metal or wood; but at present it is more
strictly confined to the productions of the wood engraver. Impressions
from copper-plates only are properly called _plates_; though it is not
unusual for persons who profess to review productions of art, to speak
of a book containing, perhaps, a number of indifferent woodcuts, as
“a work embellished with a profusion of the _most charming plates_ on
wood;” thus affording to every one who is in the least acquainted with
the art at once a specimen of their taste and their knowledge.

    [Footnote I-3: Towards the close of the seventeenth century we
    find books “adorned with _sculptures_ by a curious hand;” about
    1730 we find them “ornamented with _cuts_;” at present they are
    “illustrated with _engravings_.”]

Independent of the difference of the material on which copper-plate
engraving and wood engraving are executed, the grand distinction between
the two arts is, that the engraver on copper corrodes by means of
aqua-fortis, or cuts out with the burin or dry-point, the lines,
stipplings, and hatchings from which his impression is to be produced;
while, on the contrary, the wood engraver effects his purpose by cutting
away those parts which are to appear white or colourless, thus leaving
the lines which produce the impression prominent.

In printing from a copper or steel plate, which is previously warmed by
being placed above a charcoal fire, the ink or colouring matter is
rubbed into the lines or incisions by means of a kind of ball formed of
woollen cloth; and when the lines are thus sufficiently charged with
ink, the surface of the plate is first wiped with a piece of rag, and is
then further cleaned and smoothed by the fleshy part of the palm of the
hand, slightly touched with whitening, being once or twice passed rather
quickly and lightly over it. The plate thus prepared is covered with the
paper intended to receive the engraving, and is subjected to the action
of the rolling or copper-plate printer’s press; and the impression is
obtained by the paper being pressed _into_ the inked incisions.

As the lines of an engraved block of wood are prominent or in relief,
while those of a copper-plate are, as has been previously explained,
_intagliate_ or hollowed, the mode of taking an impression from the
former is precisely the reverse of that which has just been described.
The usual mode of taking impressions from an engraved block of wood is
by means of the printing-press, either from the block separately, or
wedged up in a _chase_ with types. The block is inked by being beat with
a roller on the surface, in the same manner as type; and the paper being
turned over upon it from the _tympan_, it is then run in under the
_platen_; which being acted on by the lever, presses the paper _on to_
the raised lines of the block, and thus produces the impression.
Impressions from wood are thus obtained by the _on-pression_ of the
paper against the raised or prominent lines; while impressions from
copper-plates are obtained by the _in-pression_ of the paper into
hollowed ones. In consequence of this difference in the process, the
inked lines impressed on paper from a copper-plate appear prominent when
viewed direct; while the lines communicated from an engraved wood-block
are indented in the front of the impression, and appear raised at the

  [Illustration: PRINTED FROM A WOOD-BLOCK.]


The above impressions--the one from a wood-block, and the other from an
etched copper-plate--will perhaps render what has been already said,
explanatory of the difference between copper-plate printing from
hollowed lines, and _surface printing_ by means of the common press from
prominent lines, still more intelligible. The subject is a
representation of the copper-plate or rolling press.

Both the preceding impressions are produced in the same manner by means
of the common printing-press. One is from wood; the other, where the
white lines are seen on a black ground, is from copper;--the hollowed
lines, which in copper-plate printing yield the impression, receiving no
ink from the printer’s balls or rollers; while the surface, which in
copper-plate printing is wiped clean after the lines are filled with
ink, is perfectly covered with it. It is, therefore, evident, that if
this etching were printed in the same manner as other copper-plates, the
impression would be a fac-simile of the one from wood. It has been
judged necessary to be thus minute in explaining the difference between
copper-plate and wood engraving, as the difference in the mode of
obtaining impressions does not appear to have been previously pointed
out with sufficient precision.

As it does not come within the scope of the present work to inquire into
the origin of sculpture generally, I shall not here venture to give an
opinion whether the art was invented by ADAM or his good angel RAZIEL,
or whether it was introduced at a subsequent period by TUBAL-CAIN, NOAH,
TRISMEGISTUS, ZOROASTER, or MOSES. Those who feel interested in such
remote speculations will find the “authorities” in the second chapter of
Evelyn’s “Sculptura.”

Without, therefore, inquiring when or by whom the art of engraving for
the purpose of producing impressions was invented, I shall endeavour to
show that such an art, however rude, was known at a very early period;
and that it continued to be practised in Europe, though to a very
limited extent, from an age anterior to the birth of Christ, to the year
1400. In the fifteenth century, its principles appear to have been more
generally applied;--first, to the simple cutting of figures on wood for
the purpose of being impressed on paper; next, to cutting figures and
explanatory text on the same block, and then entire pages of text
without figures, till the “ARS GRAPHICA ET IMPRESSORIA” attained its
perfection in the discovery of PRINTING by means of movable fusile

    [Footnote I-4: Astle on the Origin and Progress of Writing,
    p. 215, 2nd edit.]

At a very early period stamps of wood, having hieroglyphic characters
engraved on them, were used in Egypt for the purpose of producing
impressions on bricks, and on other articles made of clay. This fact,
which might have been inferred from the ancient bricks and fragments of
earthenware containing characters evidently communicated by means of a
stamp, has been established by the discovery of several of those wooden
stamps, of undoubted antiquity, in the tombs at Thebes, Meroe, and other
places. The following cuts represent the face and the back of one of the
most perfect of those stamps, which was found in a tomb at Thebes, and
has recently been brought to this country by Edward William Lane,

    [Footnote I-5: Author of “An Account of the Manners and Customs of
    the Modern Egyptians, written in Egypt during the years 1833, ’34,
    and ’35.”]


The original stamp is made of the same kind of wood as the mummy chests,
and has an arched handle at the back, cut out of the same piece of wood
as the face. It is of an oblong figure, with the ends rounded off; five
inches long, two inches and a quarter broad, and half an inch thick. The
hieroglyphic characters on its face are rudely cut in _intaglio_, so
that their impression on clay would be in relief; and if printed in the
same manner as the preceding copy, would present the same
appearance,--that is, the characters which are cut into the wood, would
appear white on a black ground. The phonetic power of the hieroglyphics
on the face of the stamp may be represented respectively by the
letters, A, M, N, F, T, P, T, H, M; and the vowels being supplied, as in
reading Hebrew without points, we have the words, “Amonophtep,
Thmei-mai,”--“Amonoph, beloved of truth.”[I-6] The name is supposed to
be that of Amonoph or Amenoph the First, the second king of the
eighteenth dynasty, who, according to the best authorities, was
contemporary with Moses, and reigned in Egypt previous to the departure
of the Israelites. There are two ancient Egyptian bricks in the British
Museum on which the impression of a similar stamp is quite distinct; and
there are also several articles of burnt clay, of an elongated conical
figure, and about nine inches long, which have their broader extremities
impressed with hieroglyphics in a similar manner. There is also in the
same collection a wooden stamp, of a larger size than that belonging to
Mr. Lane, but not in so perfect a condition. Several ancient Etruscan
terra-cottas and fragments of earthenware have been discovered, on which
there are alphabetic characters, evidently impressed from a stamp, which
was probably of wood. In the time of Pliny terra-cottas thus impressed
were called Typi.

    [Footnote I-6: On a mummy in the royal collection at Paris, the
    six first characters of this stamp occur. Champollion reads them,
    “Amenoftep,” or “Amonaftep.” He supposes the name to be that of
    Amonoph the First; and says that it signifies “approuvé par
    Ammon.”--Précis du Système Hiéroglyphique. Planches et
    Explication, p. 20, No. 161.]


In the British Museum are several bricks which have been found on the
site of ancient Babylon. They are larger than our bricks, and somewhat
different in form, being about twelve inches square and three inches
thick. They appear to have been made of a kind of muddy clay with which
portions of chopped straw have been mixed to cause it to bind; and their
general appearance and colour, which is like that of a common brick
before it is burnt, plainly enough indicate that they have not been
hardened by fire, but by exposure to the sun. About the middle of their
broadest surface, they are impressed with certain characters which have
evidently been indented when the brick was in a soft state. The
characters are indented,--that is, they are such as would be produced by
pressing a wood-block with raised lines upon a mass of soft clay; and
were such a block printed on paper in the usual manner of wood-cuts, the
impression would be similar to the preceding one, which has been copied,
on a reduced scale, from one of the bricks above noticed. The characters
have been variously described as cuneiform or wedge-shaped,
arrow-headed, javelin-headed, or nail-headed; but their meaning has not
hitherto been deciphered.

Amphoræ, lamps, tiles, and various domestic utensils, formed of clay,
and of Roman workmanship, are found impressed with letters, which in
some cases are supposed to denote the potter’s name, and in others the
contents of the vessel, or the name of the owner. On the tiles,--of
which there are specimens in the British Museum,--the letters are
commonly inscribed in a circle, and appear raised; thus showing that the
stamp had been hollowed, or engraved in intaglio, in a manner similar to
a wooden butter-print. In a book entitled “Ælia Lælia Crispis non nata
resurgens,” by C. C. Malvasia, 4to. Bologna, 1683, are several
engravings on wood of such tiles, found in the neighbourhood of Rome,
and communicated to the author by Fabretti, who, in the seventh chapter
of his own work,[I-7] has given some account of the “figlinarum
signa,”--the stamps of the ancient potters and tile-makers.

    [Footnote I-7: Inscriptionum Explicatio, fol. Romæ, 1699.]

The stamp from which the following cut has been copied is preserved in
the British Museum. It is of brass, and the letters are in relief and
reversed; so that if it were inked from a printer’s ball and stamped on
paper, an impression would be produced precisely the same as that which
is here given.


It would be difficult now to ascertain why this stamp should be marked
with the word LAR, which signifies a household god, or the image of the
supposed tutelary genius of a house; but, without much stretch of
imagination, we may easily conceive how appropriate such an inscription
would be impressed on an amphora or large wine-vessel, sealed and set
apart on the birth of an heir, and to be kept sacred--inviolate as the
household gods--till the young Roman assumed the “toga virilis,” or
arrived at years of maturity. That vessels containing wine were kept for
many years, we learn from Horace and Petronius;[I-8]

    [Footnote I-8: “O nata mecum consule Manlio!” says Horace,
    addressing an amphora of wine as old as himself; and Petronius
    mentions some choice Falernian which had attained the ripe age of
    a hundred: “Statim allatæ sunt amphoræ vitreæ diligenter gypsatæ,
    quarum in cervicibus pittacia erant affixa, cum hoc titulo:
    _Falernum Opimianum annorum centum_.” _Pittacia_ were small
    labels--schedulæ breves--attached to the necks of wine-vessels,
    and on which were marked the name and age of the wine.]

    ----Prome reconditum,
  Lyde, strenua, Cæcubum,
    Munitæque adhibe vim sapientiæ.
  Inclinare meridiem
    Sentis: ac veluti stet volucris dies,
  Parcis deripere horreo
    Cessantem Bibuli Consulis amphoram.

  _Carmin._ lib. III. xxviii.

  “Quickly produce, Lyde, the hoarded Cæcuban, and make an attack
  upon wisdom, ever on her guard. You perceive the noontide is on its
  decline; and yet, as if the fleeting day stood still, you delay to
  bring out of the store-house the loitering cask, (that bears its
  date) from the Consul Bibulus.”--_Smart’s Translation._

Mr. Ottley, in his “Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of
Engraving,” pages 57 and 58, makes a distinction between _impression_
where the characters impressed are produced by “_a change of
form_”--meaning where they are either indented in the substance
impressed, or raised upon it in relief--and _impression_ where the
characters are produced by _colour_; and requires evidence that the
ancients ever used stamps “charged with ink or some other tint, for the
purpose of stamping paper, parchment, or other substances, little or not
at all capable of indentation.”

It certainly would be very difficult, if not impossible, to produce a
piece of paper, parchment, or cloth of the age of the Romans impressed
with letters in ink or other colouring matter; but the existence of such
stamps as the preceding,--and there are others in the British Museum of
the same kind, containing more letters and of a smaller size,--renders
it very probable that they were used for the purpose of marking cloth,
paper, and similar substances, with ink, as well as for being impressed
in wax or clay.

Von Murr, in an article in his Journal, on the Art of Wood Engraving,
gives a copy from a similar bronze stamp, in Praun’s Museum, with the
inscription “GALLIANI,” which he considers as most distinctly proving
that the Romans had nearly arrived at the arts of wood engraving and
book printing. He adds: “Letters cut on wood they certainly had, and
very likely grotesques and figures also, the hint of which their artists
might readily obtain from the coloured stuffs which were frequently
presented by Indian ambassadors to the emperors.”[I-9]

    [Footnote I-9: Journal zur Kunstgeschichte, 2 Theil, S. 81. By
    grotesque--“Laubwerk”--ornamental foliage is here
    meant;--_grot_-esque, bower-work,--not caricatures.]

At page 90 of Singer’s “Researches into the History of Playing-Cards”
are impressions copied from stamps similar to the preceding; which
stamps the author considers as affording “examples of such a near
approach to the art of printing as first practised, that it is truly
extraordinary there is no remaining evidence of its having been
exercised by them;--unless we suppose that they were acquainted with it,
and did not choose to adopt it from reasons of state policy.” It is just
as extraordinary that the Greek who employed the expansive force of
steam in the Ælopile to blow the fire did not invent Newcomen’s
engine;--unless, indeed, we suppose that the construction of such an
engine was perfectly known at Syracuse, but that the government there
did not choose to adopt it from motives of “state policy.” It was not,
however, a reason of “state policy” which caused the Roman cavalry to
ride without stirrups, or the windows of the palace of Augustus to
remain unglazed.

The following impressions are also copied from two other brass stamps,
preserved in the collection of Roman antiquities in the British Museum.



As the letters in the originals are hollowed or cut into the metal, they
would, if impressed on clay or soft wax, appear raised or in relief; and
if inked and impressed on paper or on white cloth, they would present
the same appearance that they do here--white on a black ground. Not
being able to explain the letters on these stamps, further than that the
first may be the dative case of a proper name Ovirillius, and indicate
that property so marked belonged to such a person, I leave them, as
Francis Moore, physician, leaves the hieroglyphic in his Almanack,--“to
time and the curious to construe.”

Lambinet, in his “Recherches sur l’Origine de l’Imprimerie,” gives an
account of two stone stamps of the form of small tablets, the letters of
which were cut in _intaglio_ and reverse, similar to the two of which
impressions are above given. They were found in 1808, near the village
of Nais, in the department of the Meuse; and as the letters, being in
reverse, could not be made out, the owner of the tablets sent them to
the Celtic Society of Paris, where M. Dulaure, to whose examination they
were submitted, was of opinion that they were a kind of matrices or
hollow stamps, intended to be applied to soft substances or such as were
in a state of fusion. He thought they were stamps for vessels containing
medical compositions; and if his reading of one of the inscriptions be
correct, the practice of stamping the name of a quack and the nature of
his remedy, in relief on the side of an ointment-pot or a bottle, is of
high antiquity. The letters


M. Dulaure explains thus: _Quinti Junii Tauridi anodynum ad omnes
lippas_;[I-10] an inscription which is almost literally rendered by the
title of a specific still known in the neighbourhood of
Newcastle-on-Tyne, “_Dr. Dud’s lotion, good for sore eyes_.”

    [Footnote I-10: M. Dulaure’s latinity is bad. “_Lippas_” certainly
    is not the word. His translation is, “Remède anodin de Quintus
    Junius Tauridus, pour _tous les maux_ d’yeux.” Other stone stamps,
    supposed to have been used by oculists to mark the vessels
    containing their medicaments, were discovered and explained long
    before M. Dulaure published his interpretation. See “WALCHII
    Antiquitates Medicæ Selectæ, Jenæ, 1772,” Num. 1 and 2, referred
    to by Von Murr.]

Besides such stamps as have already been described, the ancients used
brands, both figured and lettered, with which, when heated, they marked
their horses, sheep, and cattle, as well as criminals, captives, and
refractory or runaway slaves.

The Athenians, according to Suidas, marked their Samian captives with
the figure of an owl; while Athenians captured by the Samians were
marked with the figure of a galley, and by the Syracusans with the
figure of a horse. The husbandman at his leisure time, as we are
informed by Virgil, in the first book of the Georgics,

  “Aut pecori signa, aut numeros impressit acervis;”

and from the third book we learn that the operation was performed by

  “Continuoque notas et nomina gentis _inurunt_.”[I-11]

    [Footnote I-11: HERMANNUS HUGO, De prima Origine Scribendi, cap.
    xix. De Notis Servilibus, et cap. xx. De Notis pecudum. A further
    account of the ancient _stigmata_, and of the manner in which
    slaves were marked, is to be found in PIGNORIUS, De Servis.]

   *   *   *

Such brands as those above noticed, commonly known by the name of
_cauteria_ or _stigmata_, were also used for similar purposes during the
middle ages; and the practice, which has not been very long obsolete, of
burning homicides in the hand, and vagabonds and “sturdy beggars” on the
breast, face, or shoulder, affords an example of the employment of the
brand in the criminal jurisprudence of our own country. By the 1st
Edward VI. cap. 3, it was enacted, that whosoever, man or woman, not
being lame or impotent, nor so aged or diseased that he or she could not
work, should be convicted of loitering or idle wandering by the
highway-side, or in the streets, like a servant wanting a master, or a
beggar, he or she was to be marked with a hot iron on the breast with
the letter V [for Vagabond], and adjudged to the person bringing him or
her before a justice to be his slave for two years; and if such adjudged
slave should run away, he or she, upon being taken and convicted, was to
be marked on the forehead, or on the ball of the cheek, with the letter
S [for Slave], and adjudged to be the said master’s slave for ever. By
the 1st of James I. cap. 7, it was also enacted, that such as were to be
deemed “rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars” by the 39th of Elizabeth,
cap. 4, being convicted at the sessions and found to be incorrigible,
were to be branded in the left shoulder with a hot iron, of the breadth
of an English shilling, marked with a great Roman R [for Rogue]; such
branding upon the shoulder to be so thoroughly burned and set upon the
skin and flesh, that the said letter R should be seen and remain for a
perpetual mark upon such rogue during the remainder of his life.[I-12]

    [Footnote I-12: History of the Poor Laws, 8vo. 1764, by Richard
    Burn, LL.D., who in his observations on such punishments says: “It
    is affecting to humanity to observe the various methods that have
    been invented for the _punishment_ of vagrants; none of all which
    wrought the desired effect . . . . . . This part of our history
    looks like the history of the savages in America. Almost all
    severities have been exercised against vagrants, except

From a passage in Quintilian we learn that the Romans were acquainted
with the method of _tracing_ letters, by means of a piece of thin wood
in which the characters were pierced or cut through, on a principle
similar to that on which the present art of _stencilling_ is founded. He
is speaking of teaching boys to write, and the passage referred to may
be thus translated: “When the boy shall have entered upon
_joining-hand_, it will be useful for him to have a _copy-head_ of wood
in which the letters are well cut, that through its furrows, as it were,
he may trace the characters with his _style_. He will not thus be liable
to make slips as on the wax [alone], for he will be confined by the
boundary of the letters, and neither will he be able to deviate from his
text. By thus more rapidly and frequently following a definite outline,
his hand will become _set_, without his requiring any assistance from
the master to guide it.”[I-13]

    [Footnote I-13: “Quum puer jam ductus sequi cœperit, non inutile
    erit, litteras tabellæ quam optime insculpi, ut per illos, velut
    sulcos, ducatur stylus. Nam neque errabit, quemadmodum in ceris,
    continebitur enim utrimque marginibus, neque extra præscriptum
    poterit egredi; et celerius ac sæpius sequendo certa vestigia
    firmabit articulos, neque egebit adjutorio manum suam, manu
    superimposita, regentis.” Quintiliani Instit. Orator., lib.
    i. cap. I.]

A thin stencil-plate of copper, having the following letters _cut out_
of it,


was received, together with some rare coins, from Italy by Tristan,
author of “Commentaires Historiques, Paris, 1657,” who gave a copy of it
at page 68 of the third volume of that work. The letters thus formed,
“ex nulla materia,”[I-14] might be traced on paper by means of a pen, or
with a small brush, charged with body-colour, as stencillers _slap-dash_
rooms through their pasteboard patterns, or dipped in ink in the same
manner as many shopkeepers now, through similar thin copper-plates, mark
the prices of their wares, or their own name and address on the paper in
which such wares are wrapped.

    [Footnote I-14: Prosper Marchand, at page 9 of his “Histoire de
    l’Imprimerie,” gives the following title of a book in 8vo. which
    was wholly, both text and figures, executed in this manner, _percé
    au jour_, in vellum: “Liber Passionis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi,
    cum figuris et characteribus _ex nulla materia_ compositis.” He
    states that in 1640 it was in the collection of Albert Henry,
    Prince de Ligne, and quotes a description of it from Anton.
    Sanderi Bibliotheca Belgica Manuscripta, parte ii. p. 1.]


In the sixth century it appears, from Procopius, that the Emperor
Justin I. made use of a tablet of wood pierced or cut in a similar
manner, through which he traced in red ink, the imperial colour, his
signature, consisting of the first four letters of his name. It is also
stated that Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, the contemporary of
Justin, used after the same manner to sign the first four letters of his
name through a plate of gold;[I-15] and in Peringskiold’s edition of the
Life of Theodoric, the annexed is given as the monogram[I-16] of that
monarch. The authenticity of this account has, however, been questioned,
as Cochlæus, who died in 1552, cites no ancient authority for the fact.

    [Footnote I-15: “Rex Theodoricus inliteratus erat, et sic obruto
    sensu ut in decem annos regni sui quatuor literas subscriptionis
    edicti sui discere nullatenus potuisset. De qua re laminam auream
    jussit interrasilem tieri quatuor literas regis habentem, unde ut
    si subscribere voluisset, posita lamina super chartam, per eam
    pennam duceret et subscriptio ejus tantum videretur.”--Vita
    Theodorici Regis Ostrogothorum et Italiæ, autore Joanne Cochlæo;
    cum additamentis Joannis Peringskiold, 4to. Stockholmiæ, 1699,
    p. 199.]

    [Footnote I-16: A monogram, properly, consists of all, or the
    principal letters of a name, combined in such a manner that the
    whole appear but as one _character_; a portion of one letter being
    understood to represent another, two being united to form a third,
    and so on.]


It has been asserted by Mabillon, (Diplom. lib. ii. cap. 10,) that
Charlemagne first introduced the practice of signing documents with a
monogram, either traced with a pen by means of a thin tablet of gold,
ivory, or wood, or impressed with an inked stamp, having the characters
in relief, in a manner similar to that in which letters are stamped at
the Post-office.[I-17] Ducange, however, states that this mode of
signing documents is of greater antiquity, and he gives a copy of the
monogram of the Pope Adrian I. who was elected to the see of Rome in
774, and died in 795. The annexed monogram of Charlemagne has been
copied from Peringskiold, “Annotationes in Vitam Theodorici,” p. 584; it
is also given in Ducange’s Glossary, and in the “Nouveau Traité de

    [Footnote I-17: Mabillon’s opinion is founded on the following
    passage in the Life of Charlemagne, by his secretary Eginhard:
    “_Ut scilicet imperitiam hanc [scribendi] honesto ritu suppleret,
    monogrammatis usum loco proprii signi invexit_.”]

The monogram, either stencilled or stamped, consisted of a combination
of the letters of the person’s name, a fanciful character, or the figure
of a cross,[I-18] accompanied with a peculiar kind of flourish, called
by French writers on diplomatics _parafe_ or _ruche_. This mode of
signing appears to have been common in most nations of Europe during the
ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries; and it was practised by nobles and
the higher orders of the clergy, as well as by kings. It continued to be
used by the kings of France to the time of Philip III. and by the
Spanish monarchs to a much later period. It also appears to have been
adopted by some of the Saxon kings of England; and the authors of the
“Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique” say that they had seen similar marks
produced by a stamp of William the Conqueror, when Duke of Normandy. We
have had a recent instance of the use of the _stampilla_, as it is
called by diplomatists, in affixing the royal signature. During the
illness of George IV. in 1830, a silver stamp, containing a fac-simile
of the king’s sign-manual, was executed by Wyon, which was stamped on
documents requiring the royal signature, by commissioners, in his
Majesty’s presence. A similar stamp was used during the last illness of
Henry VIII. for the purpose of affixing the royal signature. The king’s
warrant empowering commissioners to use the stamp may be seen in Rymer’s
Fœdera, vol. xv. p. 101, anno 1546. It is believed that the warrant
which sent the poet Surrey to the scaffold was signed with this stamp,
and not with Henry’s own hand.

    [Footnote I-18: “Triplex cruces exarandi modus: 1. penna sive
    calamo; 2. lamina interrasili; 3. stampilla sive typo anaglyptico.
    Laminæ interrasiles ex auro aliove metallo, vel ex ebore etiam
    confectæ sunt, atque ita perforatæ, ut hiatus, pro re nata,
    crucium cet. speciem præ se ferrent, per quos velut sulcos,
    calamus sive penna ducebatur. Stampillæ vero ita sculptæ sunt, ut
    figuræ superficiem eminerent, quæ deinde atramento tinctæ sunt,
    chartæque impressæ.”--Gatterer, Elementa Artis Diplomaticæ, § 264,
    De Staurologia.]

In Sempère’s “History of the Cortes of Spain,” several examples are
given of the use of fanciful monograms in that country at an early
period, and which were probably introduced by its Gothic invaders. That
such marks were stamped is almost certain; for the first, which is that
of Gundisalvo Tellez, affixed to a charter of the date of 840, is the
same as the “sign” which was affixed by his widow, Flamula, when she
granted certain property to the abbot and monks of Cardeña for the good
of her deceased husband’s soul. The second, which is of the date of 886,
was used both by the abbot Ovecus, and Peter his nephew; and the third
was used by all the four children of one Ordoño, as their “sign” to a
charter of donation executed in 1018. The fourth mark is a Runic cypher,
copied from an ancient Icelandic manuscript, and given by Peringskiold
in his “Annotations on the Life of Theodoric:” it is not given here as
being from a stencil or a stamp, but that it may be compared with the
apparently Gothic monograms used in Spain.


“In their inscriptions, and in the rubrics of their books,” says a
writer in the Edinburgh Review[I-19] “the Spanish Goths, like the Romans
of the Lower Empire, were fond of using combined capitals--of
_monogrammatising_. This mode of writing is now common in Spain, on the
sign-boards and on the shop-fronts, where it has retained its place in
defiance of the canons of the council [of Leon], The Goths, however,
retained a truly _Gothic_ custom in their writings. The Spanish Goth
sometimes subscribed his name; or he drew a _monogram_ like the Roman
emperors, or the sign of the _cross_ like the Saxon; but not
unfrequently he affixed strange and fanciful marks to the deed or
charter, bearing a close resemblance to the Runic or magical knots of
which so many have been engraved by Peringskiold, and other northern

    [Footnote I-19: No. lxi. p. 108, where the preceding Gothic marks,
    with the explanation of them, are given.]

To the tenth or the eleventh century are also to be referred certain
small silver coins--“something between counters and money,” as is
observed by Pinkerton--which are impressed, on one side only, with a
kind of Runic monogram. They are formed of very thin pieces of silver;
and it has been supposed that the impression was produced from wooden
dies. They are known to collectors as “_nummi bracteati_”--tinsel money;
and Pinkerton, mistaking the Runic character for the Christian cross,
says that “most of them are ecclesiastic.” He is perhaps nearer the
truth when he adds that they “belong to the tenth century, and are
commonly found in Germany, and the northern kingdoms of Sweden and
Denmark.”[I-20] The four following copies from the original coins in the
Brennerian collection are given by Peringskiold, in his “Annotations on
the Life of Theodoric,” previously referred to. The characters on the
three first he reads as the letters EIR, OIR, and AIR, respectively, and
considers them to be intended to represent the name of Eric the
Victorious. The characters on the fourth he reads as EIM, and applies
them to Emund Annosus, the nephew of Eric the Victorious, who succeeded
to the Sueo-Gothic throne in 1051; about which time, through the
influence of the monks, the ancient Runic characters were exchanged for

    [Footnote I-20: Essay on Medals, pp. 144, 145. Edit. 1784.]


  [Illustration: NICOLAUS FERENTERIUS, 1236]

The notaries of succeeding times, who on their admission were required
to use a distinctive sign or notarial mark in witnessing an instrument,
continued occasionally to employ the stencil in affixing their “sign;”
although their use of the stamp for that purpose appears to have been
more general. In some of those marks or stamps the name of the notary
does not appear, and in others a small space is left in order that it
might afterwards be inserted with a pen. The annexed monogram was the
official mark of an Italian notary, Nicolaus Ferenterius, who lived in

    [Footnote I-21: It it given by Gatterer in his “Elementa Artis
    Diplomaticæ,” p. 166; [4to. Gottingæ, 1765;] who refers to
    Muratori, Antiquit. Italiæ Medii Ævi, t. vi. p. 9.]

The three following cuts represent impressions of German notarial
stamps. The first is that of Jacobus Arnaldus, 1345; the second that of
Johannes Meynersen, 1435; and the third that of Johannes Calvis,

    [Footnote I-22: These stamps are copied from “D. E. Baringii
    Clavis Diplomatica,” 4to. Hanoveræ, 1754. There is a work
    expressly treating of the use of the Diplomatic Stamp--J. C.
    C. Oelrichs de Stampilla Diplomatica, folio, Wismariæ, 1762, which
    I have not been able to obtain a sight of.]

  [Illustration: JACOBUS ARNALDUS, 1345.]

  [Illustration: JOHANNES MEYNERSEN, 1435.]

  [Illustration: JOHANNES CALVIS, 1521.]

Many of the merchants’-marks of our own country, which so frequently
appear on stained glass windows, monumental brasses, and tombstones in
the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, bear a considerable
likeness to the ancient Runic monograms, from which it is not unlikely
that they were originally derived. The English trader was accustomed to
place his mark as his “sign” in his shop-front in the same manner as the
Spaniard did his monogram: if he was a wool-stapler, he stamped it on
his packs; or if a fish-curer, it was branded on the end of his casks.
If he built himself a new house, his mark was frequently placed between
his initials over the principal door-way, or over the fireplace of the
hall; if he made a gift to a church or a chapel, his mark was emblazoned
on the windows beside the knight’s or the nobleman’s shield of arms; and
when he died, his mark was cut upon his tomb. Of the following
merchants’-marks, the first is that of Adam de Walsokne, who died in
1349; the second that of Edmund Pepyr, who died in 1483; those two marks
are from their tombs in St. Margaret’s, Lynn; and the third is from a
window in the same church.[I-23]

    [Footnote I-23: The marks here given are copied from Mackarel’s
    History of King’s Lynn, 8vo. 1737. In the same book there are
    upwards of thirty more of a similar kind, from the middle of the
    fourteenth century to the latter end of the seventeenth. Perhaps
    no two counties in the kingdom afford so many examples of
    merchants’-marks and monumental brasses as Norfolk and Suffolk.]


In Pierce Ploughman’s Creed, written after the death of Wickliffe, which
happened in 1384, and consequently more modern than many of Chaucer’s
poems, merchants’-marks are thus mentioned in the description of a
window of a Dominican convent:

  “Wide windows y-wrought, y-written full thick,
  Shining with shapen shields, to shewen about,
  With _marks of merchants_, y-meddled between,
  Mo than twenty and two, twice y-numbered.[I-24]”

    [Footnote I-24: “_Y-meddled_ is mixed; the marks of merchants are
    put in opposition to the ‘shapen shields,’ because merchants had
    no coats of arms.”--Specimens of the Early English Poets, by
    George Ellis, Esq. vol. i. p. 163. Edit. 1811.]

Having thus endeavoured to prove by a continuous chain of evidence that
the principle of producing impressions from raised lines was known, and
practised, at a very early period; and that it was applied for the
purpose of impressing letters and other characters on paper, though
perhaps confined to signatures only, long previous to 1423,--which is
the earliest date that has been discovered on a wood-cut, in the modern
sense of the word, impressed on paper, and accompanied with explanatory
words cut on the same block;[I-25] and having shown that the principle
of stencilling--the manner in which the above-named cut is
coloured[I-26]--was also known in the middle ages; it appears requisite,
next to briefly notice the contemporary existence of the cognate arts of
die-sinking, seal-cutting, and engraving on brass, and afterwards to
examine the grounds of certain speculations on the introduction and
early practice of wood-engraving and block-printing in Europe.

    [Footnote I-25: “Till lately this was the earliest dated evidence
    of block printing known; but there has just been discovered at
    Malines, and now deposited at Brussels, a woodcut of similar
    character, but assumed to be Dutch or Flemish, dated MCCCCXVIII.;
    and though there seems no reason to doubt the genuineness of the
    cut, it is currently asserted that the date bears evidence of
    having been tampered with.”--Extract from Bohn’s Lecture on

    [Footnote I-26: The woodcut referred to is that of St.
    Christopher, discovered by Heineken, pasted within the cover of a
    book in the Monastery of Buxheim, near Memmingen, in Suabia. It is
    of a folio size, and is coloured by means of stencils; a practice
    which appears to have been adopted at an early part of the
    fifteenth century by the German Formschneiders and Briefmalers,
    literally, figure-cutters and cardpainters, to colour their cuts
    and their cards. The St. Christopher is now in Earl Spencer’s
    library. (See a reduced copy of it at p. 46).]

Concerning the first invention of stamping letters and figures upon
coins, and the name of the inventor, it is fruitless to inquire, as the
origin of the art is lost in the remoteness of antiquity. “Leaving these
uncertainties,” says Pinkerton, in his Essay on Medals, “we know from
respectable authorities that the first money coined in Greece was that
struck in the island of Ægina, by Phidon king of Argos. His reign is
fixed by the Arundelian marbles to an era correspondent to the 885th
year before Christ; but whether he derived this art from Lydia or any
other source we are not told.” About three hundred years before the
birth of Christ, the art of coining, so far as relates to the beauty of
the heads impressed, appears to have attained its perfection in
Greece;--we may indeed say its perfection generally, for the specimens
which were then produced in that country remain unsurpassed by modern
art. Under the Roman emperors the art never seems to have attained so
high a degree of perfection as it did in Greece; though several of the
coins of Hadrian, probably executed by Greek artists, display great
beauty of design and execution. The art of coining, with the rest of the
ornamental arts, declined with the empire; and, on its final subversion
in Italy, the coins of its rulers were scarcely superior to those which
were subsequently minted in England, Germany, and France, during the
darkest period of the middle ages.

The art of coining money, however rude in design and imperfect in its
mode of stamping the impression, which was by repeated blows with a
hammer, was practised from the twelfth to the sixteenth century in a
greater number of places than at present; for many of the more powerful
bishops and nobles assumed or extorted the right of coining money as
well as the king; and in our own country the archbishops of Canterbury
and York, and the bishop of Durham, exercised the right of coinage till
the Reformation; and local mints for coining the king’s money were
occasionally fixed at Norwich, Chester, York, St. Edmundsbury,
Newcastle-on-Tyne, and other places. Independent of those establishments
for the coining of _money_, almost every abbey struck its own _jettons_
or counters; which were thin pieces of copper, commonly impressed with a
pious legend, and used in _casting up accounts_, but which the general
introduction of the numerals now in use, and an improved system of
arithmetic, have rendered unnecessary. As such mints were at least as
numerous in France and Germany as in our own country, Scheffer, the
partner of Faust, when he conceived the idea of casting letters from
matrices formed by punches, would have little difficulty in finding a
workman to assist him in carrying his plans into execution. “The art of
impressing legends on coins,” says Astle in his Account of the Origin
and Progress of writing, “is nothing more than the art of printing on
medals.” That the art of casting letters in relief, though not
separately, and most likely from a mould of sand, was known to the
Romans, is evident from the names of the emperors Domitian and Hadrian
on some pigs of lead in the British Museum; and that it was practised
during the middle and succeeding ages, we have ample testimony from the
inscriptions on our ancient bells.[I-27]

    [Footnote I-27: The small and thick brass coins, struck by Grecian
    cities under the Roman emperors, and known to collectors as
    “colonial Greek,” appear to have been cast, and moulds for such a
    purpose have been discovered in our own country.]

In the century immediately preceding 1423, the date of the wood-cut of
St. Christopher, the use of seals, for the purpose of authenticating
documents by their impression on wax, was general throughout Europe;
kings, nobles, bishops, abbots, and all who “came of _gentle_ blood,”
with corporations, lay and clerical, all had seals. They were mostly of
brass, for the art of engraving on precious stones does not appear to
have been at that time revived, with the letters and device cut or cast
in hollow--_en creux_--on the face of the seal, in order that the
impression might appear raised. The workmanship of many of those seals,
and more especially of some of the conventional ones, where figures of
saints and a view of the abbey are introduced, displays no mean degree
of skill. Looking on such specimens of the graver’s art, and bearing in
mind the character of many of the drawings which are to be seen in the
missals and other manuscripts of the fourteenth century and of the early
part of the fifteenth, we need no longer be surprised that the cuts of
the earliest block-books should be so well executed.

The art of engraving on copper and other metals, though not with the
intention of taking impressions on paper, is of great antiquity. In the
late Mr. Salt’s collection of Egyptian antiquities there was a small
axe, probably a model, the head of which was formed of sheet-copper, and
was tied, or rather bandaged, to the helve with slips of cloth. There
were certain characters engraved upon the head in such a manner that if
it were inked and submitted to the action of the rolling-press,
impressions would be obtained as from a modern copper-plate. The axe,
with other models of a carpenter’s tools, also of copper, was found in a
tomb in Egypt, where it must have been deposited at a very early period.
That the ancient Greeks and Romans were accustomed to engrave on copper
and other metals in a similar manner, is evident from engraved pateræ
and other ornamental works executed by people of those nations. Though
no ancient writer makes mention of the art of engraving being employed
for the purpose of producing impressions on paper, yet it has been
conjectured by De Pauw, from a passage in Pliny,[I-28] that such an art
was invented by Varro for the purpose of multiplying the portraits of
eminent men. “No Greek,” says De Pauw, speaking of engraving, “has the
least right to claim this invention, which belongs exclusively to Varro,
as is expressed by Pliny in no equivocal terms, when he calls this
method _inventum Varronis_. Engraved plates were employed which gave the
profile and the principal traits of the figures, to which the
appropriate colours and the shadows were afterwards added with the
pencil. A woman, originally of Cyzica, but then settled in Italy,
excelled all others in the talent of illumining such kind of prints,
which were inserted by Varro in a large work of his entitled
‘_Imagines_’ or ‘_Hebdomades_,’ which was enriched with seven hundred
portraits of distinguished men, copied from their statues and busts. The
necessity of exactly repeating each portrait or figure in every copy of
the work suggested the idea of multiplying them without much cost, and
thus gave birth to an art till then unknown.”[I-29] The grounds,
however, of this conjecture are extremely slight, and will not without
additional support sustain the superstructure which De Pauw--an
“ingenious” guesser, but a superficial inquirer--has so plausibly
raised. A prop for this theory has been sought for by men of greater
research than the original propounder, but hitherto without success.

    [Footnote I-28: “That a strong passion for portraits formerly
    existed, is attested both by Atticus, the friend of Cicero, who
    wrote a work on this subject, and by M. Varro, who conceived the
    very liberal idea of inserting by some means or other, in his
    numerous volumes, the portraits of seven hundred individuals; as
    he could not bear the idea that all traces of their features
    should be lost, or that the lapse of centuries should get the
    better of mankind.”--Pliny’s Natural History, Book XXXV. chap.
    2.--(Bohn’s Ed. vol. vi. p. 226. M. Deville is of opinion that
    these portraits were made in relief upon plates of metal, perhaps
    bronze, and coloured with minium, a red tint much esteemed by the

    [Footnote I-29: See De Pauw, Recherches Philosophiques sur les
    Grecs, t. ii. p. 100. The subject is discussed in Meusel’s “Neue
    Miscellaneen von artistischen Inhalts,” part xii. p. 380-387, in
    an article, “Sind wirklich die Römer die Erfinder der
    Kupferstecherkunst?--Were the Romans truly the inventors of
    copper-plate engraving?”--by A. Rode. Böttiger, one of the most
    learned and intelligent of all German writers on the fine arts,
    and Fea, the editor of Winkleman’s History of Art, do not admit De
    Pauw’s conjecture, but decide the question in the negative.]

About the year 1300 we have evidence of monumental brasses, with large
figures engraved on them, being fixed on tombs in this country; and it
is not unlikely that they were known both here and on the Continent at
an earlier period. The best specimens known in this country are such as
were in all probability executed previous to 1400. In the succeeding
century the figures and ornamental work generally appear to be designed
in a worse taste and more carelessly executed; and in the age of Queen
Elizabeth the art, such as it was, appears to have reached the lowest
point of degradation, the monumental brasses of that reign being
generally the worst which are to be met with.

The figures on several of the more ancient brasses are well drawn, and
the folds of the drapery in the dresses of the females are, as a painter
would say, “well cast;” and the faces occasionally display a
considerable degree of correct and elevated expression. Many of the
figures are of the size of life, marked with a hold outline well
ploughed into the brass, and having the features, armour, and drapery
indicated by single lines of greater or less strength as might be
required. Attempts at shading are also occasionally to be met with; the
effect being produced by means of lines obliquely crossing each other in
the manner of cross-hatchings. Whether impressions were ever taken or
not from such early brasses by the artists who executed them, it is
perhaps now impossible to ascertain; but that they might do so is beyond
a doubt, for it is now a common practice, and two immense volumes of
impressions taken from monumental brasses, for the late Craven Ord,
Esq., are preserved in the print-room of the British Museum.

One of the finest monumental brasses known in this country is that of
Robert Braunche and his two wives, in St. Margaret’s Church, Lynn, where
it appears to have been placed about the year 1364. Braunche, and his
two wives, one on each side of him, are represented standing, of the
size of life. Above the figures are representations of five small niches
surmounted by canopies in the florid Gothic style. In the centre niche
is the figure of the Deity holding apparently the infant Christ in his
arms. In each of the niches adjoining the centre one is an angel
swinging a censer; and in the exterior niches are angels playing on
musical instruments. At the sides are figures of saints, and at the foot
there is a representation of a feast, where persons are seen seated at
table, others playing on musical instruments, while a figure kneeling
presents a peacock. The length of this brass is eight feet eleven
inches, and its breadth five feet two inches. It is supposed to have
been executed in Flanders, with which country at that period the town of
Lynn was closely connected in the way of trade.[I-30]

    [Footnote I-30: An excellent representation of this celebrated
    monument is given in Cotman’s “Engravings from the most remarkable
    Sepulchral Brasses in Norfolk,” folio, 1819 (republished with
    considerable additions in 2 vols. folio, 1839).]

It has frequently been asserted that the art of wood engraving in Europe
was derived from the Chinese; by whom, it is also said, that the art was
practised in the reign of the renowned emperor Wu-Wang, who flourished
1120 years before the birth of Christ. As both these statements seem to
rest on equal authorities, I attach to each an equal degree of
credibility; that is, by believing neither. As Mr. Ottley has expressed
an opinion in favour of the Chinese origin of the art,--though without
adopting the tale of its being practised in the reign of Wu-Wang, which
he shows has been taken by the wrong end,--I shall here take the liberty
of examining the tenability of his arguments.

At page 8, in the first chapter of his work, Mr. Ottley cautiously says
that the “art of printing from engraved blocks of wood appears to be of
very high antiquity amongst the Chinese;” and at page 9, after citing Du
Halde, as informing us that the art of printing was not discovered until
about fifty years before the Christian era, he rather inconsistently
observes: “So says Father Du Halde, whose authority I give without any
comment, as the defence of Chinese chronology makes no part of the
present undertaking.” Unless Mr. Ottley is satisfied of the correctness
of the chronology, he can by no means cite Du Halde’s account as
evidence of the very high antiquity of printing in China; which in every
other part of his book he speaks of as a well-established fact, and yet
refers to no other authority than Du Halde, who relies on the
correctness of that Chinese chronology with the defence of which Mr.
Ottley will have nothing to do.

It is also worthy of remark, that in the same chapter he corrects two
writers, Papillon and Jansen, for erroneously applying a passage in Du
Halde as proving that the art of printing was known in the reign of
Wu-Wang,--he who flourished Ante Christum 1120; whereas the said passage
was not alleged “by Du Halde to prove the antiquity of printing amongst
the Chinese, but solely in reference to their ink.” The passage, as
translated by Mr. Ottley, is as follows: “As the stone Me” (a word
signifying ink in the Chinese language), “which is used to blacken the
_engraved_ characters, can never become white; so a heart blackened by
vices will always retain its blackness.” The engraved characters were
not inked, it appears, for the purpose of taking impressions, as Messrs.
Papillon and Jansen have erroneously inferred. “It is possible,”
according to Mr. Ottley, “that the ink might be used by the Chinese at a
very early period to blacken, and thereby render more easily legible,
the characters of engraved inscriptions.”[I-31] The _possibility_ of
this may be granted certainly; but at the same time we must admit that
it is equally _possible_ that the engraved characters were blackened
with ink for the purpose of being printed, if they were of wood; or
that, if cut in copper or other metal, they were filled with a black
composition which would harden or _set_ in the lines,--as an ingenious
inquirer might infer from ink being represented by the _stone_ ME; and
thus it is _possible_ that something very like “niello,” or the filling
of letters on brass doorplates with black wax, was known to the Chinese
in the reign of Wu-Wang, who flourished in the year before our Lord,
1120. The one conjecture is as good as the other, and both good for
nothing, until we have better assurance than is afforded by Du Halde,
that engraved characters blackened with ink--for whatever purpose--were
known by the Chinese in the reign of Wu-Wang.[I-32]

    [Footnote I-31: At page 7, Mr. Ottley, borrowing from Du Halde,
    has erroneously stated that the delicate nature of their paper
    would not permit the use of a press. He must have forgot, for he
    cannot but have known, that impressions on the finest India paper
    had been frequently taken from wood-blocks by means of the common
    printing-press many years previous to 1816, the date of the
    publication of his book. I have never seen Chinese paper that
    would bear printing by hand, which would not also bear the action
    of the press, if printed without being wet in the same manner as
    common paper.]

    [Footnote I-32: It would appear that Chinese annalists themselves
    were not agreed as to the period when printing by the hand from
    wood-blocks was first practised in that country. “Nicholas
    Trigaltius, a member of our order,” writes Herman Hugo, “who has
    recently returned from China, gives the following information
    respecting printing, which he professes to have carefully
    extracted from the annals of the Chinese themselves. ‘_Typography
    is of somewhat earlier date in China than in Europe, for it is
    certain that it was practised in that country about five centuries
    ago. Others assert that it was practised in China at a period
    prior to the Christian era._’”--Hermannus Hugo, De Prima Origine
    Scribendi, p. 211. Antwerpiæ, 1617.]

Although so little is positively known of the ancient history of “the
great out-lying empire of China,” as it is called by Sir William Jones,
yet it has been most confidently referred to as affording authentic
evidence of the high degree of the civilization and knowledge of the
Chinese at a period when Europe was dark with the gloom of barbarism and
ignorance. Their early history has been generally found, when
opportunity has been afforded of impartially examining it, to be a mere
tissue of absurd legends; compared to which, the history of the
settlement of King Brute in Britain is authentic. With astronomy as a
science they are scarcely acquainted; and their specimens of the fine
arts display little more than representations of objects executed not
unfrequently with minute accuracy, but without a knowledge of the most
simple elements of correct design, and without the slightest pretensions
to art, according to our standard.

One of the two Mahometan travellers who visited China in the ninth
century, expressly states that the Chinese were unacquainted with the
sciences; and as neither of them takes any notice of printing, the
mariner’s compass, or gunpowder, it seems but reasonable to conclude
that the Chinese were unacquainted with those inventions at that

    [Footnote I-33: The pretensions of the Chinese to excellence in
    science are ably exposed by the learned Abbé Renaudot in a
    disquisition “Sur les sciences des Chinois,” appended to his
    translation, from the Arabic, entitled “Anciennes Relations des
    Indes et de la Chine, de deux Voyageurs Mahométans, qui y allèrent
    dans le neuvième siècle.”--8vo. Paris, 1718.]

Mr. Ottley, at pages 51 and 52 of his work, gives a brief account of the
early commerce of Venice with the East, for the purpose of showing in
what manner a knowledge of the art of printing in China might be
obtained by the Venetians. He says: “They succeeded, likewise, in
establishing a direct traffic with Persia, Tartary, China, and Japan;
sending, for that purpose, several of their most respectable citizens,
and largely providing them with every requisite.” He cites an Italian
author for this account, but he observes a prudent silence as to the
period when the Venetians first established a _direct traffic_ with
China and Japan; though there is little doubt that Bettinelli, the
authority referred to, alludes to the expedition of the two brothers
Niccolo and Maffeo Polo, and of Marco Polo, the son of Niccolo, who in
1271 or 1272 left Venice on an expedition to the court of the Tartar
emperor Kublai-Khan, which had been previously visited by the two
brothers at some period between 1254 and 1269.[I-34] After having
visited Tartary and China, the two brothers and Marco returned to Venice
in 1295. Mr. Ottley, however, does not refer to the travels of the Polos
for the purpose of showing that Marco, who at a subsequent period wrote
an account of his travels, might introduce a knowledge of the Chinese
art of printing into Europe: he cites them that his readers may suppose
that a direct intercourse between Venice and China had been established
long before; and that the art of engraving wood-blocks, and taking
impressions from them, had been thus derived from the latter country,
and had been practised in Venice long before the return of the
travellers in 1295.

    [Footnote I-34: See the Travels of Marco Polo. (In Bohn’s Antiq.

It is necessary here to observe that the invention of the mariner’s
compass, and of gunpowder and cannon, have been ascribed to the Chinese
as well as the invention of wood engraving and block-printing; and it
has been conjectured that _very probably_ Marco Polo communicated to his
countrymen, and through them to the rest of Europe, a knowledge of those
arts. Marco Polo, however, does not in the account which he wrote of his
travels once allude to gunpowder, cannon, or to the art of printing as
being known in China;[I-35] nor does he once mention the compass as
being used on board of the Chinese vessel in which he sailed from the
coast of China to the Persian Gulf. “Nothing is more common,” says a
writer in the Quarterly Review, “than to find it repeated from book to
book, that gunpowder and the mariner’s compass were first brought from
China by Marco Polo, though there can be very little doubt that both
were known in Europe some time before his return.”--“That Marco Polo,”
says the same writer, “would have mentioned the mariner’s compass, if it
had been in use in China, we think highly probable; and his silence
respecting gunpowder may be considered as at least a negative proof that
this also was unknown to the Chinese in the time of Kublai-Khan.”[I-36]
In a manner widely different from this does Mr. Ottley reason,
respecting the cause of Marco Polo not having mentioned printing as an
art practised by the Chinese. He accounts for the traveller’s silence as
follows: “Marco Polo, it may be said, did not notice this art [of
engraving on wood and block-printing] in the account which he left us of
the marvels he had witnessed in China. The answer to this objection is
obvious: it was no marvel; it had no novelty to recommend it; it was
practised, as we have seen, at Ravenna, in 1285, and had perhaps been
practised a century earlier in Venice. His mention of it, therefore, was
not called for, and he preferred instructing his countrymen in matters
with which they were not hitherto acquainted.” This “obvious” answer,
rather unfortunately, will equally apply to the question, “Why did not
Marco Polo mention cannon as being used by the Chinese, who, as we are
informed, had discovered such formidable engines of war long before the
period of his visit?”

    [Footnote I-35: It has been conjectured that the following
    passages in the travels of Marco Polo might suggest the idea of
    block-printing, and consequently wood engraving: “Gradatim
    reliquos belli duces in digniorem ponit statum, donatque illis
    aurea et argentea vasa, tabulas, privilegia atque immunitatem. Et
    hæc quidem privilegia tabulis vel bracteis per sculpturas
    imprimuntur.” “Moneta magni Cham non fit de auro vel argento, aut
    alio metallo, sed corticem accipiunt medium ab arbore mori, et
    hunc consolidant, atque in particular varias et rotundas, magnas
    et parvas, scindunt, atque regale imprimunt signum.”--M. Pauli
    Veneti Itiner. lib. ii. capp. vii. & xxi. The mention of paper
    money impressed with the royal stamp also occurs in the Eastern
    History of Haython, an Armenian, whose work was written in 1307,
    in Latin, and has been printed several times, of which the last
    edition is by And. Müller, Colon. 1671, 4to.]

    [Footnote I-36: An article on Marsden’s “Translation of the
    Travels of Marco Polo,” in the Quarterly Review, No. xli. May,
    1819, from p. 191 to 195, contains some curious particulars
    respecting the early use of the mariner’s compass, and of
    gunpowder and cannon in Europe.]

That the art of engraving wood-blocks and of taking impressions from
them was introduced into Europe from China, I can see no sufficient
reason to believe. Looking at the frequent practice in Europe, from the
twelfth to the fifteenth century, of impressing inked stamps on paper,
I can perceive nothing in the earliest specimens of wood engraving but
the same principles applied on a larger scale. When I am once satisfied
that a man had built a small boat, I feel no surprise on learning that
his grandson had built a larger; and made in it a longer voyage than his
ancestor ever ventured on, who merely used his slight skiff to ferry
himself across a river.

In the first volume of Papillon’s “Traité de la Gravure en Bois,” there
is an account of certain old wood engravings which he professes to have
seen, and which, according to their engraved explanatory title, were
executed by two notable young people, Alexander Alberic Cunio, _knight_,
and Isabella Cunio, his twin sister, and finished by them when they were
only sixteen years old, at the time when Honorius IV. was pope; that is,
at some period between the years 1285 and 1287. This story has been
adopted by Mr. Ottley, and by Zani, an Italian, who give it the benefit
of their support. Mr. Singer, in his “Researches into the History of
Playing Cards,” grants the truth-like appearance of Papillon’s tale; and
the writer of the article “Wood-engraving” in the Encyclopedia
Metropolitana considers it as authentic. It is, however, treated with
contempt by Heineken, Huber, and Bartsch, whose knowledge of the origin
and progress of engraving is at least equal to that of the four writers
previously named.

The manner in which Papillon recovered his memoranda of the works of the
Cunio is remarkable. In consequence of those curious notes being mislaid
for upwards of thirty-five years, the sole record of the productions of
those “ingenious and amiable twins” was very nearly lost to the world.
The _three sheets of letter-paper_ on which he had written an account of
certain old volumes of wood engravings,--that containing the cuts
executed by the Cunio being one of the number,--he had lost for upwards
of thirty-five years. For long he had only a confused idea of those
sheets, though he had often searched for them in vain, when he was
writing his first essay on wood engraving, which was printed about 1737,
but never published. At length he accidentally found them, on
All-Saints’ Day, 1758, rolled up in a bundle of specimens of
paper-hangings which had been executed by his father. The finding of
those three sheets afforded him the greater pleasure, as from them he
discovered, by means of a pope’s name, an epoch of engraving figures and
letters on wood for the purpose of being printed, which was certainly
much earlier than _any_ at that period known in Europe, and at the same
time a history relative to this subject equally curious and interesting.
He says that he had so completely forgotten all this,--though he had so
often recollected to search for his memoranda,--that he did not deign to
take the least notice of it in his previously printed history of the
art. The following is a faithful abstract of Papillon’s account of his
discovery of those early specimens of wood engraving. The title-page, as
given by him in French from Monsieur De Greder’s _vivâ voce_ translation
of the original,--which was “en mauvais Latin ou ancien Italien
Gothique, avec beaucoup d’abréviations,”--is translated without
abridgment, as are also his own descriptions of the cuts.

“When young, being engaged with my father in going almost every day to
hang rooms with our papers, I was, some time in 1719 or 1720, at the
village of Bagneux, near Mont Rouge, at a Monsieur De Greder’s, a Swiss
captain, who had a pretty house there. After I had papered a small room
for him, he ordered me to cover the shelves of his library with paper in
imitation of mosaic. One day after dinner he surprised me reading a
book, which occasioned him to show me some very old ones which he had
borrowed of one of his friends, a Swiss officer,[I-37] that he might
examine them at his leisure. We talked about the figures which they
contained, and of the antiquity of wood engraving; and what follows is a
description of those ancient books as I wrote it before him, and as he
was so kind as to explain and dictate to me.

    [Footnote I-37: A Monsieur Spirchtvel, as Papillon informs us.
    Tom. i. p. 92.]

“In a _cartouch_[I-38] or frontispiece,--of fanciful and Gothic
ornaments, though pleasing enough,--nine inches wide, and six inches
high, having at the top the arms, doubtless, of Cunio, the following
words are coarsely engraved on the same block, in bad Latin, or ancient
Gothic Italian with many abbreviations.

    [Footnote I-38: _Cartouch._ “This word is used to denote those
    fantastic ornaments which were formerly introduced in decorating
    the wainscots of rooms; and frequently served the purpose of
    frames, surrounding inscriptions, small paintings, or other
    devices. These _cartouches_ were much in vogue in the sixteenth
    and seventeenth centuries for the frontispieces of books of
    prints; and indeed _Callot_ and _Della Bella_ etched many entire
    sets of small subjects surrounded by similar ornaments. From the
    irregularity of their forms, the terms tablet shield, or panel,
    would be but ill expressive of their character.”--Ottley’s
    Inquiry, vol. i. p. 12.]

“‘THE CHIVALROUS DEEDS, in figures, of the great and magnanimous
Macedonian king, the courageous and valiant Alexander, dedicated,
presented, and humbly offered to the most holy father, Pope Honorius IV.
the glory and stay of the Church, and to our illustrious and generous
father and mother, by us Alexander Alberic Cunio, knight, and Isabella
Cunio, twin brother and sister; first reduced, imagined, and attempted
to be executed in relief with a little knife, on blocks of wood, joined
and smoothed by this learned and beloved sister, continued and finished
together at Ravenna, after eight pictures of our designing, painted six
times the size here represented; cut, explained in verse, and thus
marked on paper to multiply the number, and to enable us to present them
as a token of friendship and affection to our relations and friends.
This was done and finished, the age of each being only sixteen years

After having given the translation of the title-page, Papillon thus
continues the narrative in his own person: “This _cartouch_ [or
ornamented title-page] is surrounded by a coarse line, the tenth of an
inch broad, forming a square. A few slight lines, which are irregularly
executed and without precision, form the shading of the ornaments. The
impression, in the same manner as the rest of the cuts, has been taken
in Indian blue, rather pale, and in distemper, apparently by the hand
being passed frequently over the paper laid upon the block, as
card-makers are accustomed to impress their addresses and the envelopes
of their cards. The hollow parts of the block, not being sufficiently
cut away in several places, and having received the ink, have smeared
the paper, which is rather brown; a circumstance which has caused the
following words to be written in the margin underneath, that the fault
might be remedied. They are in Gothic Italian, which M. de Greder had
considerable difficulty in making out, and certainly written by the hand
either of the Chevalier Cunio or his sister, on this first
proof--evidently from a block--such as are here translated.”

“‘_It is necessary to cut away the ground of the blocks more, that the
paper may not touch it in taking impressions._’”

“Following this frontispiece, and of the same size, are the subjects of
the eight pictures, engraved on wood, surrounded by a similar line
forming a square, and also with the shadows formed of slight lines. At
the foot of each of those engravings, between the border-line and
another, about a finger’s breadth distant, are four Latin verses
engraved on the block, poetically explaining the subject, the title of
which is placed at the head. In all, the impression is similar to that
of the frontispiece, and rather grey or cloudy, as if the paper had not
been moistened. The figures, tolerably designed, though in a semi-gothic
taste, are well enough characterized and draped; and we may perceive
from them that the arts of design were then beginning gradually to
resume their vigour in Italy. At the feet of the principal figures their
names are engraved, such as Alexander, Philip, _Darius_, Campaspe, and

“SUBJECT 1.--Alexander mounted on Bucephalus, which he has tamed. On a
stone are these words: _Isabel. Cunio pinx. & scalp._”

“SUBJECT 2.--Passage of the Granicus. Near the trunk of a tree these
words are engraved: _Alex. Alb. Cunio Equ. pinx. Isabel Cunio scalp._”

“SUBJECT 3.--Alexander cutting the Gordian knot. On the pedestal of a
column are these words: _Alexan. Albe. Cunio Equ. pinx. & scalp._ This
block is not so well engraved as the two preceding.”

“SUBJECT 4.--Alexander in the tent of Darius. This subject is one of the
best composed and engraved of the whole set. Upon the end of a piece of
cloth are these words: _Isabel. Cunio pinxit & scalp._”

“SUBJECT 5.--Alexander generously presents his mistress Campaspe to
Apelles who was painting her. The figure of this beauty is very
agreeable. The painter seems transported with joy at his good fortune.
On the floor, on a kind of antique tablet, are these words: _Alex. Alb.
Cunio Eques, pinx. & scalp._”

“SUBJECT 6.--The famous battle of Arbela. Upon a small hillock are these
words: _Alex. Alb. Equ. & Isabel. pictor. and scalp._ For composition,
design, and engraving, this subject is also one of the best.”

“SUBJECT 7.--Porus, vanquished, is brought before Alexander. This
subject is so much the more beautiful and remarkable, as it is composed
nearly in the same manner as that of the famous Le Brun; it would seem
that he had copied this print. Both Alexander and Porus have a grand and
magnanimous air. On a stone near a bush are engraved these words:
_Isabel. Cunio pinx. & scalp._”

“SUBJECT 8 AND LAST.--The glory and grand triumph of Alexander on
entering Babylon. This piece, which is well enough composed, has been
executed, as well as the sixth, by the brother and sister conjointly, as
is testified by these characters engraved at the bottom of a wall:
_Alex. Alb. Equ. et Isabel. Cunio, pictor. & scalp._ At the top of this
impression, a piece about three inches long and one inch broad has been
torn off.”

However singular the above account of the works of those “amiable twins”
may seem, no less surprising is the history of their birth, parentage,
and education; which, taken in conjunction with the early development of
their talents as displayed in such an art, in the choice of such a
subject, and at such a period, is scarcely to be surpassed in interest
by any narrative which gives piquancy to the pages of the Wonderful

Upon the blank leaf adjoining the last engraving were the following
words, badly written in old Swiss characters, and scarcely legible in
consequence of their having been written with pale ink. “Of course
Papillon could not read Swiss,” says Mr. Ottley, “M. de Greder,
therefore, translated them for him into French.”--“This precious volume
was given to my grandfather Jan. Jacq. Turine, a native of Berne, by the
illustrious Count Cunio, chief magistrate of Imola, who honoured him
with his generous friendship. Above all my books I prize this the
highest on account of the quarter from whence it came into our family,
and on account of the knowledge, the valour, the beauty, and the noble
and generous desire which those amiable twins Cunio had to gratify their
relations and friends. Here ensues their singular and curious history as
I have heard it many a time from my venerable father, and which I have
caused to be more correctly written than I could do it myself.”

Though Papillon’s long-lost manuscript, containing the whole account of
the works of the Cunio and notices of other old books of engravings,
consisted of only three sheets of letter-paper, yet the history alone of
the learned, beautiful, and amiable twins, which Turine the grandson
caused to be written out as he had heard it from his father, occupies in
Papillon’s book four long octavo pages of thirty-eight lines each. To
assume that his long-lost manuscript consisted of brief notes which he
afterwards wrote out at length from memory, would at once destroy any
validity that his account might be supposed to possess; for he states
that he had lost those papers for upwards of thirty five years, and had
entirely forgotten their contents.

Without troubling myself to transcribe the whole of this choice morsel
of French Romance concerning the history of the “amiable twins”
Cunio,--the surprising beauty, talents, and accomplishments of the
maiden,--the early death of herself and her lover,--the heroism of the
youthful knight, Alexander Alberic Cunio, displayed when only fourteen
years old,--I shall give a brief abstract of some of the passages which
seem most important to the present inquiry.[I-39]

    [Footnote I-39: Readers of French romances will find the tale of
    the Cunio at p. 89, tom. i. of Papillon’s “Traité de la Gravure en
    Bois,” or at p. 17, vol. i. of Mr. Ottley’s “History of

From this narrative,--which Papillon informs us was written in a much
better hand, though also in Swiss characters, and with much blacker ink
than Turine the grandson’s own memorandum,--we obtain the following
particulars: The Count de Cunio, father of the twins, was married to
their mother, a noble maiden of Verona and a relation of Pope Honorius
IV. without the knowledge of their parents, who, on discovering what had
happened, caused the marriage to be annulled, and the priest by whom it
was celebrated to be banished. The divorced wife, dreading the anger of
her own father, sought an asylum with one of her aunts, under whose roof
she was brought to bed of twins. Though the elder Cunio had compelled
his son to espouse another wife, he yet allowed him to educate the
twins, who were most affectionately received and cherished by their
father’s new wife. The children made astonishing progress in the
sciences, more especially the girl Isabella, who at thirteen years of
age was regarded as a prodigy; for she understood, and wrote with
correctness, the Latin language; she composed excellent verses,
understood geometry, was acquainted with music, could play on several
instruments, and had begun to design and to paint with correctness,
taste, and delicacy. Her brother Alberic, of a beauty as ravishing as
his sister’s, and one of the most charming youths in Italy, at the age
of fourteen could manage the great horse, and understood the practice of
arms and all other exercises befitting a young man of quality. He also
understood Latin, and could paint well.

The troubles in Italy having caused the Count Cunio to take up arms, his
son, young Alexander Alberic, accompanied him to the field to make his
first campaign. Though not more than fourteen years old, he was
entrusted with the command of a squadron of twenty-five horse, with
which, as his first essay in war, he attacked and put to flight near two
hundred of the enemy. His courage having carried him too far, he was
surrounded by the fugitives, from whom, however, he fought himself clear
without any further injury than a wound in his left arm. His father, who
had hastened to his succour, found him returning with the enemy’s
banner, which he had wrapped about his wound. Delighted at the valour
displayed by his son, the Count Cunio knighted him on the spot. The
young man then asked permission to visit his mother, which was readily
granted by the count, who was pleased to have this opportunity of
testifying the love and esteem he still retained towards that noble and
afflicted lady, who continued to reside with her aunt; of which he
certainly would have given her more convincing proofs, now that his
father was dead, by re-establishing their marriage and publicly
espousing her, if he had not been in duty bound to cherish the wife whom
he had been compelled to marry, and who had now borne him a large

After Alexander Alberic had visited his mother, he returned home, and
shortly after began, together with his sister Isabella, to design and
work upon the pictures of the achievements of Alexander. He then made a
second campaign with his father, after which he continued to employ
himself on the pictures in conjunction with Isabella, who attempted in
reduce them and engrave them on wood. After the engravings were
finished, and copies had been printed and given to Pope Honorius, and
their relations and friends, Alexander Alberic proceeded again to join
the army, accompanied by Pandulphio, a young nobleman, who was in love
with the charming Isabella. This was his last campaign, for he was
killed in the presence of his friend, who was dangerously wounded in
defending him. He was slain when not more than nineteen; and his sister
was so affected by his death that she resolved never to marry, and died
when she was scarcely twenty. The death of this lovely and learned young
lady was followed by that of her lover, who had fondly hoped that she
would make him happy. The mother of those amiable twins was not long in
following them to the grave, being unable to survive the loss of her
children. The Countess de Cunio took seriously ill at the loss of
Isabella, but fortunately recovered; and it was only the count’s
grandeur of soul that saved him from falling sick also.

Some years after this, Count Cunio gave the copy of the achievements of
Alexander, in its present binding, to the grandfather of the person who
caused this account to be written. The binding, according to Papillon’s
description of it, was, for the period, little less remarkable than the
contents. “This ancient and Gothic binding,” as Papillon’s note is
translated by Mr. Ottley. “is made of thin tablets of wood, covered with
leather, and _ornamented with flowered compartments, which appear simply
stamped and marked with an iron a little warmed, without any gilding_.”
It is remarkable that this singular volume should afford not only
specimens of wood engraving, earlier by upwards of a hundred and thirty
years than any which are hitherto known, but that the binding, of the
same period as the engravings, should also be such as is rarely, if
ever, to be met with till upwards of one hundred and fifty years after
the wonderful twins were dead.

As this volume is no longer to be found, as no mention is made of such a
work by any old writer, and as another copy has not been discovered in
any of the libraries of Italy, nor the least trace of one ever having
been there, the evidence of its ever having existed rests solely on the
account given of it by Papillon. Before saying a word respecting the
credit to be attached to this witness, or the props with which Zani and
Ottley endeavour to support his testimony, I shall attempt to show that
the account affords internal evidence of its own falsehood.

Before noticing the description of the subjects, I shall state a few
objections to the account of the twins as written out by order of the
youngest Turine, the grandson of Jan. Jacq. Turine, who received the
volume from Count Cunio himself, the father of the twins, a few years
after their death, which could not well happen later than 1291; as Pope
Honorius, to whom their work was dedicated when they were sixteen years
old, died in 1287, and Isabella Cunio, who survived her brother, died
when she was not more than twenty. Supposing that Count Cunio gave the
volume to his friend, J. J. Turine, a native of Berne, in 1300, and that
the grandson of the latter caused the history of the twins to be written
out eighty years afterwards,--and we cannot fairly assume that it was
written later, if indeed so late,--we have thus 1380 as the date of the
account written “in old Swiss characters, in a better hand, and with
much blacker ink,” than the owner’s own memorandum of the manner in
which the volume came into his family, and his reasons for prizing it so
highly. The probable date of the pretended Swiss history of the Cunio,
Papillon’s advocates carefully keep out of sight; for what impartial
person could believe that a Swiss of the fourteenth century could give
utterance to the sentimental fustian which forms so considerable a
portion of the account? Of the young knight Cunio he knows every
movement; he is acquainted with his visit to his repudiated mother; he
knows in which arm he was wounded; the number of men that he lost, when
with only five-and-twenty he routed two hundred; the name of Isabella’s
lover; the illness and happy recovery of Count Cunio’s wife, and can
tell the cause why the count himself did not fall sick.

To any person who reflects on the doctrine of the church of Rome in the
article of marriage, it certainly must appear strange that the parents
of the Count Cunio and his first wife, the mother of the twins, should
have had the power of dissolving the marriage and of banishing the
priest by whom it was solemnized; and still more singular it is that the
Count Cunio, whom we must suppose to have been a good Catholic, should
speak, after his father’s death, of re-establishing his marriage with
his first wife and of publicly espousing her; and that he should make
such a communication to her through the medium of her son, who, as well
as his sister, must have been declared illegitimate by the very fact of
their mother’s divorce. It is also strange that this piece of family
history should come to the knowledge of the grandson of Jan. Jacq.
Turine. The Count Cunio’s second marriage surely must have been
canonically legal, if the first were not; and if so, it would not be a
sense of duty alone to his second wife that would prevent him divorcing
her and re-marrying the first. On such subjects the church was to be
consulted; and to such playing fast-and-loose with the sacrament of
marriage the church said “NO.” Taking these circumstances into
consideration, I can come to no other conclusion than that, on this
point, the writer of the history of the Cunio did not speak truth; and
that the paper containing such history, even if it could be produced, is
not genuine, as every other part of it which has the slightest bearing
on the point at issue, is equally, if not more, improbable.

With respect to the cuts pretended to be executed by the twins
themselves, I shall waive any objections which might be urged on the
ground of it being unlikely that they should be executed by a boy and a
girl so young. Supposing that the twins were as learned and accomplished
as they are represented, still it would be a very surprising
circumstance that, in the thirteenth century, they should have executed
a series of wood engravings of the actions of Alexander the Great as an
appropriate present to the pope; and that the composition of one of
those subjects, No. 7, should so closely resemble one of Le Brun’s--an
artist remarkable for the complication of his designs--that it would
seem he had copied this very print. Something like the reverse of this
is more probable; that the description of the pretended work of the
Cunio was suggested by the designs of Le Brun.[I-40] The execution of a
set of designs, in the thirteenth century, illustrating the actions of
Alexander in the manner described by Papillon, would be a rarity indeed
even if not engraved on wood; but that a series of wood engravings, and
not a saint in one of them, should be executed by a boy and a girl, and
presented to a _pope_, in 1286, is scarcely short of miraculous. The
twins must have been well read in Quintus Curtius. Though we are
informed that both were skilled in the Latin language, yet it plainly
appears on two occasions, when we might suppose that they would be least
liable to trip, that their Latinity is questionable. The sixth and the
eighth subjects, which were accomplished by their joint efforts, are
described as being marked: _Alex. Alb. Equ. et Isabel, Cunio pictor. et

  “Thus painters _did not_ write their names at Co.”

    [Footnote I-40: Of Le Brun’s five subjects illustrative of the
    actions of Alexander the Great, four of them are precisely the
    same as four of those said to be executed by the Cunio:
    1. Alexander passing the Granicus; 2. the battle of Arbela; 3. the
    reception of Porus by Alexander; 4. Alexander’s triumphant entry
    into Babylon. There certainly has been some copying here; but it
    is more likely that Papillon or his informant had seen Le Brun’s
    paintings, than that Le Brun had seen the original wood engravings
    executed by the Cunio.]

Why do not the advocates of those early specimens of wood engraving in
Italy point out to their readers that these two children were the first
who ever affixed the words _pinx. et scalp._ to a woodcut? I challenge
any believer in Papillon to point out a wood engraving on which the
words _pinxit_ and _scalpsit_, the first after the painter’s name, and
the second after the engraver’s, appear previous to 1580. This apparent
copying--and by a person ignorant of Latin too--of the formula of a
later period, is of itself sufficient to excite a suspicion of forgery;
and, coupled with the improbable circumstances above related, it
irresistibly compels me to conclude that the whole account is a mere

With respect to the credibility of Papillon, the sole evidence upon
which the history of the wonderful twins rests, I shall have occasion to
say very few words. That he was credulous, and excessively vain of what
he considered his discoveries in the history of wood engraving, is
admitted by those who profess to believe him. He appears also from an
early age to have been subject to mental hallucination; and in 1759, the
year after he found his papers containing the account of the Cunio, he
had a fit of decided insanity which rendered it necessary to convey him
to a mad-house, where by copious bleeding he soon recovered his
senses.[I-41] To those interested in the controversy I leave to decide
how far the unsupported testimony of such a person, and in such a case,
ought to be relied on. How easily he might be deceived on a subject
relating to the early history of his art, it is not difficult to
comprehend; and even allowing him to be sincere in the belief of what he
related, he was a person very likely to occasionally deceive both
himself and others.[I-42]

    [Footnote I-41: From the age of sixteen, cruel and secret
    annoyances interrupted his studies; shortly after his marriage, in
    1723, his absent manner was a source of uneasiness to his wife;
    and in 1759 he fairly lost his senses. See Papillon, Traité de la
    Gravure en Bois, 8vo. 1766, Preface, p. xi.; & p. 335, tom. i. et
    Supplement, p. 39.]

    [Footnote I-42: It is worthy of remark that Papillon, when
    questioned by Heineken, who called on him in Paris after the
    publication of his work, respecting the account of the Cunio, did
    not produce his three sheets of original memoranda. He might thus
    have afforded a proof of his own good faith, by producing the
    manuscript written by him in 1720 from the dictation of Captain de

Papillon’s insanity had been previously adverted to by Heineken; and
this writer’s remarks have produced the following correction from Mr.
Ottley: “Heineken takes some pains to show that poor Papillon was not in
his right mind; and, amongst his other arguments, quotes a passage from
his book, t. i. p. 335, in which he says, ‘_Par un accident et une
fatalité commune à plusieurs graveurs, aussi bien qu’à moi, Le Fevre est
devenu aliéné d’esprit_:’ as if a little pleasantry of expression, such
as the French writers, especially, have ever felt themselves at full
liberty to indulge in, could really constitute fit grounds for a statute
of lunacy.”[I-43] Had Mr. Ottley, instead of confidently correcting
Heineken when the latter had stated nothing but the fact, turned to the
cited page of Papillon’s volume, he would there have found that Papillon
was indulging in no “little pleasantry of expression,” but was seriously
relating a melancholy fact of two brother artists losing their senses
about the same time as himself; and had he ever read the supplement, or
third volume, of Papillon’s work, he would have seen, at p. 39, the
account which Papillon himself gives of his own insanity.

    [Footnote I-43: Inquiry into the Early History of Engraving, vol.
    i. p. 23.]

Having disposed of the story as told by Papillon, it remains now to
notice “the learning and deep research” with which it has been supported
by Zani, and some of the arguments which have been alleged in its favour
by Mr. Ottley.

In the first place, Zani has discovered that a family of the name of
Cunio, in which the name of Alberico more than once occurs, actually
resided in the neighbourhood of Ravenna at the very period mentioned in
the title-page to the cuts by the Cunio, and in the history written in
old Swiss characters. Upon this, and other similar pieces of evidence,
Mr. Ottley remarks as follows: “Now both these cities [Ravenna and
Imola] are in the vicinity of Faenza, where the family, or a branch of
it, is spoken of by writers of undoubted credit in the twelfth, the
thirteenth, and the fourteenth centuries. These circumstances,
therefore, far from furnishing any just motive of additional doubt, form
together such a phalanx of corroborative evidence in support of the
story, as, in my opinion, those who would impeach the truth of
Papillon’s statement can never break through.” “_Argal_,” Rowley’s poems
are genuine, because such a person as “Maistre William Canynge” lived at
Bristol at the period when he is mentioned by the pseudo Rowley. Zani,
however, unfortunately for his own argument, let us know that the names
and residence of the family of the Cunio might be obtained from
“Tonduzzi’s History of Faenza,” printed in 1675. Whether this book
appeared in French, or not, previous to the publication of Papillon’s
works, I have not been able to learn; but a Swiss captain, who could
read “old Gothic Italian,” would certainly find little difficulty in
picking a couple of names out of a modern Italian volume.

The reasoning faculties of Signor Zani appear to have been very
imperfectly developed, for he cites the following as a case in point;
and Mr. Ottley, who gives it in his text, seems to concur in its
applicability. He is noticing the objections which have been made to
Papillon’s account, on the ground of no previous author mentioning the
existence of such a work, and that no person subsequently had ever seen
a copy. Zani’s argument, as given by Mr. Ottley,[I-44] is as follows:
“He, however, who should reason in this manner, might, upon the same
grounds, deny the loss of many manuscripts, and even of printed books,
which, according to the testimony of credible authors, have become a
prey to the flames, or have perished during the anarchy of revolutions,
or the distresses occasioned by wars. The learned part of my readers
will not require examples. Nevertheless, let him who wants such
conviction search throughout all the libraries of Europe for the work
entitled ‘Meditationes Reverendissimi patris Domini Johannis de
Turre-cremata,’ printed at Rome by Ulrich Hahn, in 1467, and he will
presently be informed by the learned librarians, that of that edition
there exists but one copy, which is preserved in the library of
Nuremberg. This book is, therefore, unique.[I-45] Now let us suppose
that, by some accident, this book should perish; could our descendants
on that account deny that it ever had existed?” And this is a
corroborative argument in support of the truth of Papillon’s tale! The
comment, however, is worthy of the text. It is to be observed that
Ulrich Hahn’s edition of Turre-cremata appeared ten years after Faust
and Scheffer’s Psalter, of the date 1457, was printed; and that the
existence of several hundred volumes printed before 1467 proves that the
art of printing was then practised to a considerable extent. That Ulrich
Hahn was a printer at Rome in 1468 and subsequent years is proved by
many copies of works which proceeded from his press; and the existence
of the identical “unique” copy, referred to by Zani, is vouched for by
upwards of fifty learned men who have seen it; and, what is more,
mentioned the place where it was preserved, so that, if a person were
sceptical, he might satisfy himself by the evidence of his own senses.
But who, except Papillon, has ever seen the engravings of the Cunio,
executed upwards of a hundred and thirty years prior to the earliest
authentic specimen of the art, and who has ever mentioned the place
where they were to be seen? Had any person of equal credibility with
Papillon described a volume printed at Rome in 1285, the date of the
pretended wood-cuts of the Cunio, the case would then have been in
point, and the decision of every person in the slightest degree
acquainted with the subject, and not rendered blind to simple truth by
the vivid brightness of his own speculations, would be inevitably the
same; that is, the evidence in both cases would not be relied on.

    [Footnote I-44: History of Engraving, vol. i. p. 28.]

    [Footnote I-45: Three copies of this supposed unique book have
    long been known to bibliographers; one in the public library of
    Nuremberg, another in the Imperial library of Vienna, and the
    third in Lord Spenser’s library.]

“It is possible,” says Zani, “that at this moment I may be blinded by
partiality to my own nation; but I would almost assert, that _to deny
the testimony of the French writer, would be like denying the existence
of light on a fine sun-shiny day_.” His mental optics must have been of
a peculiar character, and it can be no longer doubtful that he

  “Had lights where better eyes are blind,
  As pigs are said to see the wind.”

Mr. Ottley’s own arguments in support of Papillon’s story are scarcely
of a higher character than those which he has adopted from Zani. At page
40, in answer to an objection founded on the silence of all authorities,
not merely respecting the particular work of the Cunio, but of the
frequent practice of such an art, and the fact of no contemporary
specimens being known, he writes as follows: “We cannot safely argue
from the silence of contemporaneous authorities, that the art of
engraving on wood was not practised in Europe in those early times;
however, such silence may be an argument that it was not an art in high
repute. Nor is our ignorance of such records a sufficient proof of their
non-existence.” The proof of such a negative would be certainly
difficult; but, according to this mode of argument, there is no modern
invention which might not also be mentioned in “certain ancient
undiscovered records.” In the general business of life, that rule of
evidence is a good one which declares “_de non-apparentibus et
non-existentibus eadem est ratio_;” and until it shall be a maxim in
logic that “we ought readily to believe that to be true which we cannot
prove to have been impossible,” Mr. Ottley’s solution of the difficulty
does not seem likely to obtain general credence.

At page 41, speaking of the probability of wood-engraving, for the
purpose of taking impressions, being practised at an earlier period than
has been generally supposed, Mr. Ottley expresses himself as follows:
“Nor is it any proof or strong argument against the antiquity of such a
practice, that authentic specimens of wood-engraving of those early
times are not now to be found. They were, it may be supposed, for the
most part, detached pieces, whose merits, as works of art, were not such
as to render their preservation at all probable. They were the toys of
the day; and, after having served the temporary purpose for which they
were manufactured, were, no doubt, swept away to make room for others of
newer fashion.” He thus requires those who entertain an opinion contrary
to his own to prove a negative; while he assumes the point in dispute as
most clearly established in his own favour.

If such wood engravings--“the toys of the day”--had been known in the
thirteenth, or even the fourteenth century, is it not likely that some
mention would be made of them in the writings of some one of the
minstrels of the period to whom we are indebted for so many minute
particulars illustrative of the state of society at the period referred
to? Not the slightest allusion to anything of the kind has hitherto been
noticed in their writings. Respecting such “toys” Boccaccio is silent,
and our countryman Chaucer says not a word. Of wood-cuts not the least
mention is made in Petrarch; and Richard de Bury, bishop of Durham, who
lived in the reign of Edward III., in his curious Essay on the Love of
Books, says not a syllable of wood-cuts, either as toys, or as
illustrations of devotional or historical subjects. Upon this question,
affirmed by Papillon, and maintained as true by Zani and Ottley,
contemporary authorities are silent; and not one solitary fact bearing
distinctly upon the point has been alleged in support of Papillon’s




  Playing-Cards Printed from Wood-Blocks -- Early German
  Wood-Engravers at Augsburg, Nuremberg, and Ulm -- Card-Makers and
  Wood-Engravers in Venice in 1441 -- Figures of Saints Engraved on
  Wood -- The St. Christopher, the Annunciation, and the St. Bridget
  in the Collection of Earl Spencer, with Other Old Wood-Cuts
  Described -- Block-Books -- The Apocalypse, the History of the
  Virgin, and the Work Called Biblia Pauperum -- Speculum Salvationis
  -- Figured Alphabet Formerly Belonging to Sir George Beaumont -- Ars
  Memorandi, and Other Smaller Block-Books.

From the facts which have been produced in the preceding chapter, there
cannot be a doubt that the principle on which wood engraving is
founded,--that of taking impressions on paper or parchment, with ink,
from prominent lines,--was known and practised in attesting documents in
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Towards the end of the
fourteenth, or about the beginning of the fifteenth century, there is
reason to believe that this principle was adopted by the German
card-makers for the purpose of marking the outlines of the figures on
their cards, which they afterwards coloured by means of a stencil.[II-1]

    [Footnote II-1: A stencil is a piece of pasteboard, or a thin
    plate of metal, pierced with lines and figures, which are
    communicated to paper, parchment, or linen, by passing a brush
    charged with ink or colour over the stencil.]

The period at which the game of cards was first known in Europe, as well
as the people by whom they were invented, has been very learnedly,
though not very satisfactorily discussed. Bullet has claimed the
invention for the French, and Heineken for the Germans; while other
writers have maintained that the game was known in Italy earlier than in
any other part of Europe, and that it was introduced from the East.

From a passage discovered by M. Van Praet, in an old manuscript copy of
the romance of _Renard le Contrefait_, it appears that cards were known
in France about 1340, although Bullet was of opinion that they were
invented in that country about 1376. At whatever period the game was
introduced, it appears to have been commonly known in France and Spain
towards the latter part of the fourteenth century. John I., King of
Castile, by an edict issued in 1387, prohibited the game of cards; and
in 1397, the Provost of Paris, by an ordonnance, forbid all working
people to play at tennis, bowls, dice, _cards_, or nine-pins, on working
days. From a passage in the Chronicle of Petit-Jehan de Saintré, written
previous to 1380, it would appear that the game of cards at that period
was in disrepute. Saintré had been one of the pages of Charles V. of
France; and on his being appointed, on account of his good conduct, to
the situation of carver to the king, the squire who had charge of the
pages, lectured some of them on the impropriety of their behaviour; such
as playing at dice and cards, keeping bad company, and haunting taverns
and cabarets, those not being the courses by which they might hope to
arrive at the honourable post of “ecuyer tranchant,” to which their
companion, Saintré, had been raised.

In an account-book of Charles Poupart, treasurer to Charles VI. of
France, there is an entry, made about 1393, of “fifty-six sols of Paris,
given to Jacquemin Gringonneur, painter, for three packs of cards, gilt
and coloured, and of different sorts, for the diversion of his majesty.”
From this passage the learned Jesuit Menestrier, who was not aware of
cards being mentioned by any earlier writer, concluded that they were
then invented by Gringonneur to amuse the king, who, in consequence of a
_coup de soleil_, had been attacked with delirium, which had subsided
into an almost continual depression of spirits. There, however, can be
no doubt that cards were known in France at least fifty years before;
though, from their being so seldom noticed previous to 1380, it appears
likely that the game was but little played until after that period.
Whether the figures on the cards supplied for the king’s amusement were
drawn and coloured by the hand, or whether the outlines were impressed
from wood-blocks, and coloured by means of a stencil, it is impossible
to ascertain; though it has been conjectured that, from the smallness of
the sum paid for them, they were of the latter description. That cards
were cheap in 1397, however they might be manufactured, may be presumed
from the fact of their being then in the hands of the working people.

To whatever nation the invention of cards is owing, it appears that the
Germans were the first who practised card-making as a trade. In 1418 the
name of a “Kartenmacher”--card-maker--occurs in the burgess-book of the
city of Augsburg; and in an old rate-book of the city of Nuremburg,
under the year 1433, we find “_Ell. Kartenmacherin_;” that is,
Ell.--probably for Elizabeth--the card-maker. In the same book, under
the year 1435, the name of “_Eliz. Kartenmacherin_,” probably the same
person, is to be found; and in 1438 there occurs the name “Margret
Kartenmalerin”--Margaret the card-painter. It thus appears that the
earliest card-makers who are mentioned as living at Nuremberg were
females; and it is worthy of note that the Germans seem to have called
cards “_Karten_” before they gave them the name of “_Briefe_.” Heineken,
however, considers that they were first known in Germany by the latter
name; for, as he claimed the invention for his countrymen, he was
unwilling to admit that the name should be borrowed either from Italy or
France. He has not, however, produced anything like proof in support of
his opinion, which is contradicted by the negative evidence of

    [Footnote II-2: Cards--_Carten_--are mentioned in a book of
    bye-laws of Nuremberg, between 1380 and 1384. They are included in
    a list of games at which the burghers might indulge themselves,
    provided they ventured only small sums. “Awzgenommen rennen mit
    Pferder, Schiessen mit Armbrusten, _Carten_, Schofzagel, Pretspil,
    und Kugeln, umb einen pfenink zwen zu vier poten.” That is:
    “always excepting horse-racing, shooting with cross-bows, _cards_,
    shovel-board, tric-trac, and bowls, at which a man may bet from
    twopence to a groat.”--C. G. Von Murr, Journal zur Kunstsgesch.
    2 Theil, S. 99.]

The name _Briefe_, which the Germans give to cards, also signifies
letters [epistolæ]. The meaning of the word, however, is rather more
general than the French term _lettres_, or the Latin _epistolæ_ which he
gives as its synonyms, for it is also applied in the sense in which we
sometimes use the word “paper.” For instance, “_ein Brief Stecknadeln,
ein Brief Tabak_,” are literally translated by the words “a _paper_ of
pins, a _paper_ of tobacco;” in which sense the word “_Brief_” would, in
Latin, be more correctly rendered by the term _charta_ than _epistola_.
As it is in a similar sense--cognate with “paper,” as used in the two
preceding examples--that “Briefe” is applied to cards, I am inclined to
consider it as a translation of the Latin _chartaæ_, the Italian
_carte_, or the French _cartes_, and hence to conclude that the
invention of cards does not belong to the people of Germany, who appear
to have received cards, both “name and thing,” from another nation, and
after some time to have given them a name in their own language.

In the town-books of Nuremberg, the term _Formschneider_--
figure-cutter,--the name appropriated to engravers on wood, first occurs
in 1449;[II-3] and as it is found in subsequent years mentioned in the
same page with “Kartenmaler,” it seems reasonable to conclude that in
1449, and probably earlier, the business of the wood-engraver proper,
and that of the card-maker, were distinct. The primary meaning of the
word _form_ or _forma_ is almost precisely the same in most of the
European languages. It has erroneously been explained, in its relation
to wood engraving, as signifying a _mould_, whereas it simply means a
shape or figure. The model of wood which the carpenter makes for the
metal-founder is properly a _form_, and from it the latter prepares his
mould in the sand. The word _form_, however, in course of time declined
from its primary signification, and came to be used as expressive both
of a model and a mould. The term _Formschneider_, which was originally
used to distinguish the professed engraver of figures from the mere
engraver and colourer of cards, is still used in Germany to denote what
we term a wood-engraver.

    [Footnote II-3: In the town-books of Nuremberg a Hans
    _Formansneider_ occurs so early as 1397, which De Murr says is not
    meant for “wood engraver,” but is to be read thus: _Hans Forman,
    Schneider_; that is, “Ihon Forman, maister-fashionere,” or, in
    modern phrase, “tailor.” The word “_Karter_” also occurs in the
    same year, but it is meant for a carder, or wool-comber, and not
    for a card-maker.--C. G. Von Murr, Journal, 2 Theil, S. 99.]

About the time that the term _Formschneider_ first occurs we find
_Briefmalers_ mentioned, and at a later period _Briefdruckers_--
card-printers; and, though there evidently was a distinction between
the two professions, yet we find that between 1470 and 1500 the
_Briefmalers_ not only engraved figures occasionally, but also printed
books. The _Formschneiders_ and the _Briefmalers_, however, continued
to form but one guild or fellowship till long after the art of
wood-engraving had made rapid strides towards perfection, under the
superintendence of such masters as Durer, Burgmair, and Holbein, in the
same manner as the barbers and surgeons in our own country continued to
form but one company, though the “chirurgeon had long ceased to trim
beards and cut hair, and the barber had given up bleeding and purging to
devote himself more exclusively to the ornamental branch of his original
profession.” “_Kartenmacher_ and _Kartenmaler_” says Von Murr, “or
_Briefmaler_, as they were afterwards called [1473], were known in
Germany eighty years previous to the invention of book-printing. The
Kartenmacher was originally a Formschneider, though, after the practice
of cutting figures of saints and of sacred subjects was introduced,
a distinction began to be established between the two professions.”

The German card-makers of Augsburg, Nuremberg, and Ulm, it is stated,
sent large quantities of cards into Italy; and it was probably against
those foreign manufacturers that the fellowship of painters at Venice
obtained an order in 1441 from the magistracy, declaring that no foreign
manufactured cards, or printed coloured figures, should be brought into
the city, under the penalty of forfeiting such articles, and of being
fined xxx liv. xii soldi. This order was made in consequence of a
petition presented by the Venetian painters, wherein they set forth that
“the art and mystery of card-making and of printing figures, which were
practised in Venice, had fallen into total decay through the great
quantity of foreign playing-cards and coloured printed figures, which
were brought into the city.”[II-4] It is hence evident that the art both
of the German _Kartenmacher_ and of the _Formschneider_ was practised in
Venice in 1441; and, as it is then mentioned as being in decay, it no
doubt was practised there some time previously.

    [Footnote II-4: “Conscioscia che l’arte e mestier delle carte &
    figure stampide, che se fano in Venesia è vegnudo a total
    deffaction, e questo sia per la gran quantità de carte a zugar,
    e fegure depente stampide, le qual vien fate de fuora de Venezia.”
    The curious document in which the above passage occurs was
    discovered by Temanza, an Italian architect, in an old book of
    rules and orders belonging to the company of Venetian painters.
    His discovery, communicated in a letter to Count Algarotti,
    appeared in the Lettere Pittoriche, tom. v. p. 320, et sequent.
    and has since been quoted by every writer who has written upon the

Heineken, in his “Neue Nachrichten,” gives an extract from a MS.
chronicle of the city of Ulm, completed in 1474, to the following
effect: “Playing-cards were sent _barrelwise_ [that is, in small casks]
into Italy, Sicily, and also over sea, and exchanged for spices and
other wares. From this we may judge of the number of card-makers who
resided here.” The preceding passage occurs in the index, under the
head, “Business of card-making.” Heineken also gives the passage in his
“Idée Générale,” p. 245; but from the French translation, which he there
gives, it appears that he had misunderstood the word “_leglenweiss_”--
barrelwise--which he renders “en ballots.” In his “Neue Nachrichten,”
however, he inserts the explanation between parentheses, (“das ist, in
kleinen Fässern”)--i. e. in small casks; which Mr. Singer renders
“hogsheads,” and Mr. Ottley, though he gives the original in a note,
“large bales.” The word “lägel,” a barrel, is obsolete in Germany, but
its diminutive, “leglin,”--as if “lägelen”--is still used in Scotland
for the name of the ewe-milker’s _kit_.

Some writers have been of opinion that the art of wood-engraving was
derived from the practice of the ancient caligraphists and illuminators
of manuscripts, who sometimes formed their large capital letters by
means of a stencil or of a wooden stamp. That large capitals were formed
in such a manner previous to the year 1400 there can be little doubt;
and it has been thought that stencils and stamps were used not only for
the formation of capital letters, but also for the impression of a whole
volume. Ihre, in a dissertation on the Gospels of Ulphilas,[II-5] which
are supposed to be as old as the fifth century, has asserted that the
silver letters of the text on a purple ground were impressed by means of
heated iron stamps. This, however, is denied by the learned compilers of
the “Nouveau Traité de Diplomatique,” who had seen other volumes of a
similar kind, the silver letters of which were evidently formed with a
pen. A modern Italian author, D. Vincenzo Requeno, has published a
tract[II-6] to prove that many supposed manuscripts from the tenth to
the fourteenth century, instead of being written with a pen, were
actually impressed by means of stamps. It is, however, extremely
probable that he is mistaken; for if his pretended discoveries were
true, this art of stamping must have been very generally practised; and
if so, it surely would have been mentioned by some contemporary writers.
Signor Requeno’s examination, I am inclined to suspect, has not been
sufficiently precise; for he seems to have been too willing to find what
he sought. In almost every collection that he examined, a pair of fine
compasses being the test which he employed, he discovered voluminous
works on vellum, hitherto supposed to be manuscript, but which according
to his measurement were certainly executed by means of a stamp.

    [Footnote II-5: This celebrated version, in the Mœso-Gothic
    language, is preserved in the library of Upsal in Sweden.]

    [Footnote II-6: Osservazioni sulla Chirotipografia, ossia Antica
    Arte di Stampare a mano. Opera di D. Vincenzo Requeno. Roma 1810,

It has been conjectured that the art of wood-engraving was employed on
sacred subjects, such as the figures of saints and holy persons, before
it was applied to the multiplication of those “books of Satan,”
playing-cards. It however is not unlikely that it was first employed in
the manufacture of cards; and that the monks, availing themselves of the
same principle, shortly afterwards employed the art of wood-engraving
for the purpose of circulating the figures of saints; thus endeavouring
to supply a remedy for the evil, and extracting from the serpent a cure
for his bite.

Wood-cuts of sacred subjects were known to the common people of Suabia,
and the adjacent districts, by the name of _Helgen_ or _Helglein_, a
corruption of Heiligen, saints;--a word which in course of time they
used to signify prints--_estampes_--generally.[II-7] In France the same
kind of cuts, probably stencil-coloured, were called “dominos,”--the
affinity of which name with the German Helgen is obvious. The word
“domino” was subsequently used as a name for coloured or marbled paper
generally, and the makers of such paper, as well as the engravers and
colourers of wood-cuts, were called “dominotiers.”[II-8]

    [Footnote II-7: Fuseli, at p. 85 of Ottley’s Inquiry; and
    Breitkopf, Versuch d. Ursprungs der Spielkarten Zu erforschen,
    2 Theil, S. 175.]

    [Footnote II-8: Fournier, Dissertation sur l’Origine et les
    Progrès de l’Art de Graver en Bois, p. 79; and Papillon, Traité de
    la Gravure en Bois, tom. i. p. 20, and Supplement, p. 80.]

As might, _à priori_, be concluded, supposing the Germans to have been
the first who applied wood-engraving to card-making, the earliest
wood-cuts have been discovered, and in the greatest abundance, in that
district where we first hear of the business of a card-maker and a
wood-engraver. From a convent, situated within fifty miles of the city
of Augsberg, where, in 1418, the first mention of a Kartenmacher occurs,
has been obtained the earliest wood-cut known,--the St. Christopher, now
in the possession of Earl Spencer, with the date 1423. That this was the
first cut of the kind we have no reason to suppose; but though others
executed in a similar manner are known, to not one of them, upon
anything like probable grounds, can a higher degree of antiquity be
assigned. From 1423, therefore, as from a known epoch, the practice of
wood engraving, as applied to pictorial representations, may be dated.


The first person who published an account of this most interesting
wood-cut was Heineken, who had inspected a greater number of old
wood-cuts and block-books than any other person, and whose unwearied
perseverance in searching after, and general accuracy in describing such
early specimens of the art of wood-engraving, are beyond all praise. He
found it pasted on the inside of the right-hand cover of a manuscript
volume in the library of the convent of Buxheim, near Memmingen in
Suabia. The manuscript, entitled LAUS VIRGINIS[II-9] and finished in
1417, was left to the convent by Anna, canoness of Buchaw, who was
living in 1427; but who probably died previous to 1435. The above
reduced copy conveys a pretty good idea of the composition and style of
engraving of the original cut, which is of a folio size, being eleven
and a quarter inches high, and eight inches and one-eighth wide.[II-10]

    [Footnote II-9: “Liber iste, _Laus Virginis_ intitulatus, continet
    Lectiones Matutinales accommodatas Officio B. V. Mariæ per
    singulos anni dies,” &c. At the beginning of the volume is the
    following memorandum: “Istum librum legavit domna Anna filia domni
    Stephani baronis de Gundelfingen, canonica in Büchow Aule bte.
    Marie v’ginis in Buchshaim ord’is Cartusieñ prope Memingen
    Augusten. dyoc.”--Von Murr, Journal, 2 Theil, S. 104-105.]

    [Footnote II-10: A fac-simile, of the size of the original, is
    given in Von Murr’s Journal, vol. ii. p. 104, and in Ottley’s
    Inquiry, vol. i. p. 90, both engraved on wood. There is an
    imitation engraved on copper, in Jansen’s Essai sur l’Origine de
    la Gravure, tom. i.]

The original affords a specimen of the combined talents of the
Formschneider or wood-engraver, and the Briefmaler or card-colourer. The
engraved portions, such as are here represented, have been taken off in
dark colouring matter similar to printers’ ink, after which the
impression appears to have been coloured by means of a stencil. As the
back of the cut cannot be seen, in consequence of its being pasted on
the cover of the volume, it cannot be ascertained with any degree of
certainty whether the impression has been taken by means of a press, or
_rubbed off_ from the block by means of a burnisher or rubber, in a
manner similar to that in which wood-engravers of the present day take
their proofs.

This cut is much better designed than the generality of those which we
find in books typographically executed from 1462, the date of the
Bamberg Fables, to 1493, when the often-cited Nuremberg Chronicle was
printed. Amongst the many coarse cuts which “illustrate” the latter, and
which are announced in the book itself[II-11] as having been “got up”
under the superintendence of Michael Wolgemuth, Albert Durer’s master,
and William Pleydenwurff, both “most skilful in the art of painting,”
I cannot find a single subject which either for spirit or feeling can be
compared to the St. Christopher. In fact, the figure of the saint, and
that of the youthful Christ whom he bears on his shoulders, are, with
the exception of the extremities, designed in such a style, that they
would scarcely discredit Albert Durer himself.

    [Footnote II-11: The following announcement appears in the
    colophon of the Nuremberg Chronicle. “Ad intuitum autem et preces
    providorum civium Sebaldi Schreyer et Sebastiani Romermaister hunc
    librum Anthonius Koberger Nurembergiæ impressit. Adhibitis tamen
    viris mathematicis pingendique arte peritissimis, Michaele
    Wolgemut et Wilhelmo Pleydenwurff, quorum solerti accuratissimaque
    animadversione tum civitatum tum illustrium virorum figuræ insertæ
    sunt. Consummatum autem duodecima mensis Julii. Anno Salutis ñre

To the left of the engraving the artist has introduced, with a noble
disregard of perspective,[II-12] what Bewick would have called a “bit of
Nature.” In the foreground a figure is seen driving an ass loaded with a
sack towards a water-mill; while by a steep path a figure, perhaps
intended for the miller, is seen carrying a full sack from the back-door
of the mill towards a cottage. To the right is seen a hermit--known by
the bell over the entrance of his dwelling--holding a large lantern to
direct St. Christopher as he crosses the stream. The two verses at the
foot of the cut,

  Cristofori faciem die quacunque tueris,
  Illa nempe die morte mala non morieris,

may be translated as follows:

  Each day that thou the likeness of St. Christopher shalt see,
  That day no frightful form of death shall make an end of thee.

    [Footnote II-12: As great a neglect of the rules of perspective
    may be seen in several of the cuts in the famed edition of
    Theurdanck, Nuremberg, 1517, which are supposed to have been
    designed by Hans Burgmair, and engraved by Hans Schaufflein.]

They allude to a popular superstition, common at that period in all
Catholic countries, which induced people to believe that the day on
which they should see a figure or image of St. Christopher, they should
not meet with a violent death, nor die without confession.[II-13] To
this popular superstition Erasmus alludes in his “Praise of Folly;” and
it is not unlikely, that to his faith in this article of belief, the
squire, in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” wore

  “A Christofre on his brest, of silver shene.”

    [Footnote II-13: See Brand’s Popular Antiquities, vol. i. pp.
    359-364.--Bohn’s edition.]

The date “_Millesimo cccc^o xx^o tercio_”--1423--which is seen at the
right-hand corner, at the foot of the impression, most undoubtedly
designates the year in which the engraving was made.

The engraving, though coarse, is executed in a bold and free manner; and
the folds of the drapery are marked in a style which would do credit to
a proficient. The whole subject, though expressed by means of few lines,
is not executed in the very simplest style of art. In the draperies a
diminution and a thickening of the lines, where necessary to the effect,
may be observed; and the shades are indicated by means of parallel lines
both perpendicular, oblique, and curved, as may be seen in the saint’s
robe and mantle. In many of the wood-cuts executed between 1462 and
1500, the figures are expressed, and the drapery indicated, by simple
lines of one undeviating degree of thickness, without the slightest
attempt at shading by means of parallel lines running in a direction
different to those marking the folds of the drapery or the outlines of
the figure. If mere rudeness of design, and simplicity in the mode of
execution, were to be considered as the sole tests of antiquity in
wood-engravings, upwards of a hundred, positively known to have been
executed between 1470 and 1500, might be produced as affording intrinsic
evidence of their having been executed at a period antecedent to the
date of the St. Christopher.

In the Royal Library at Paris there is an impression of St. Christopher
with the youthful Christ, which was supposed to be a duplicate of that
in the possession of Earl Spencer. On comparing them, however, “it was
quite evident,” says Dr. Dibdin, “at the first glance, as M. Du Chesne
admitted, that they were impressions taken from _different blocks_. The
question therefore was, after a good deal of pertinacious argument on
both sides--which of the two impressions was the more ancient?
Undoubtedly it was that of Lord Spencer.” At first Dr. Dibdin thought
that the French impression was a copy of Earl Spencer’s, and that it
might be as old as the year 1460; but, from a note added in the second
edition of his tour, he seems to have received a new light. He there
says: “The reasons upon which this conclusion [that the French cut was a
copy of a later date] was founded, are stated at length in the preceding
edition of this work: since which, I very strongly incline to the
supposition that the Paris impression is a _proof_--of one of the
_cheats_ of DE MURR.”[II-14]

    [Footnote II-14: Bibliographical and Picturesque Tour, by the Rev.
    T. F. Dibdin, D.D. p. 58, vol. ii. second edition, 1829. The De
    Murr to whom Dr. Dibdin alludes, is C. G. Von Murr, editor of the
    Journal of Arts and General Literature, published at Nuremberg in
    1775 and subsequent years. Von Murr was the first who published,
    in the second volume of his journal, a _fac-simile_, engraved on
    wood by Sebast. Roland, of the Buxheim St. Christopher, from a
    tracing sent to him by P. Krismer, the librarian of the convent.
    Von Murr, in his Memorabilia of the City of Nuremberg, mentions
    that Breitkopf had seen a duplicate impression of the Buxheim St.
    Christopher in the possession of M. De Birkenstock at Vienna.]

On the inside of the first cover or “board” of the Laus Virginis, the
volume which contains the St. Christopher, there is also pasted a wood
engraving of the Annunciation, of a similar size to the above-named cut,
and impressed on the same kind of paper. As they are both worked off in
the same kind of dark-coloured ink, and as they evidently have been
coloured in the same manner, by means of a stencil, there can be little
doubt of their being executed about the same time. From the left-hand
corner of the Annunciation the figure of the Almighty has been torn out.
The Holy Ghost, who appears descending from the Father upon the Virgin
in the material form of a dove, could not well be torn out without
greatly disfiguring the cut. An idea may be formed of the original from
the following reduced copy.


Respecting these cuts, which in all probability were engraved by some
one of the Formschneiders of Augsburg, Ulm, or Nuremberg,[II-15]
P. Krismer, who was librarian of the convent of Buxheim, and who showed
the volume in which they are pasted to Heineken, writes to Von Murr to
the following effect: “It will not be superfluous if I here point out a
mark, by which, in my opinion, old wood engravings may with certainty be
distinguished from those of a later period. It is this: In the oldest
wood-cuts only do we perceive that the engraver [Formschneider] has
frequently omitted certain parts, leaving them to be afterwards filled
up by the card-colourer [Briefmaler]. In the St. Christopher there is no
such deficiency, although there is in the other cut which is pasted on
the inside of the fore covering of the same volume, and which, I doubt
not, was executed at the same time as the former. It represents the
salutation of the Virgin by the angel Gabriel, or, as it is also called,
the Annunciation; and, from the omission of the colours, the upper part
of the body of the kneeling Virgin appears naked, except where it is
covered with her mantle. Her inner dress had been left to be added by
the pencil of the card-colourer. In another wood-cut of the same kind,
representing St. Jerome doing penance before a small crucifix placed on
a hill, we see with surprise that the saint, together with the
instruments of penance, which are lying near him, and a whole forest
beside, are suspended in the air without anything to support them, as
the whole of the ground had been left to be inserted with the pencil.
Nothing of this kind is to be seen in more recent wood-cuts, when the
art had made greater progress. What the early wood-engravers could not
readily effect with the graver, they performed with the pencil,--for the
most part in a very coarse and careless manner,--as they were at the
same time both wood-engravers and card-colourers.”[II-16]

    [Footnote II-15: There is every reason in the world to suppose
    that this wood-cut was executed either in Nuremberg or Augsburg.
    Buxheim is situated almost in the very heart of Suabia, the circle
    in which we find the earliest wood engravers established. Buxheim
    is about thirty English miles from Ulm, forty-four from Augsburg,
    and one hundred and fifteen from Nuremberg. Von Murr does not
    notice the pretensions of Ulm, which on his own grounds are
    stronger than those of his native city, Nuremberg.]

    [Footnote II-16: Von Murr, Journal, 2 Theil, S. 105, 106.]

Besides the St. Christopher and the Annunciation, there is another old
wood-cut in the collection of Earl Spencer which appears to belong to
the same period, and which has in all probability been engraved by a
German artist, as all who can read the German inscription above the
figure would reasonably infer. Before making any remarks on this
engraving, I shall first lay before the reader a reduced copy.

The figure writing is that of St. Bridget of Sweden, who was born in
1302 and died in 1373. From the representation of the Virgin with the
infant Christ in her arms we may suppose that the artist intended to
show the pious widow writing an account of her visions or revelations,
in which she was often favoured with the blessed Virgin’s appearance.
The pilgrim’s hat, staff, and scrip may allude to her pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, which she was induced to make in consequence of a vision. The
letters S. P. Q. R. in a shield, are no doubt intended to denote the
place, Rome, where she saw the vision, and where she died. The lion, the
arms of Sweden, and the crown at her feet, are most likely intended to
denote that she was a princess of the blood royal of that kingdom. The
words above the figure of the saint are a brief invocation in the German
language, “_O Brigita bit Got für uns!_” “O Bridget, pray to God for
us!” At the foot of the desk at which St. Bridget is writing are the
letters M. I. CHRS., an abbreviation probably of Mater Jesu Christi, or
if German, Mutter Iesus Christus.[II-17]

    [Footnote II-17: St. Bridget was a favourite saint in Germany,
    where many religious establishments of the rule of St. Saviour,
    introduced by her, were founded. A folio volume, containing the
    life, revelations, and legends of St. Bridget, was published by
    A. Koberger, Nuremberg, 1502, with the following title: “Das puch
    der Himlischen offenbarung der Heiligen wittiben Birgitte von dem
    Kunigreich Schweden.”]


From the appearance of the back of this cut, as if it had been rubbed
smooth with a burnisher or rubber, there can be little doubt of the
impression having been taken by means of friction. The colouring matter
of the engraving is much lighter than in the St. Christopher and the
Annunciation, and is like distemper or water-colour; while that of the
latter cuts appears, as has been already observed, more like printer’s
ink. It is coarsely coloured, and apparently by the hand, unassisted
with the stencil. The face and hands are of a flesh colour. Her gown, as
well as the pilgrim’s hat and scrip, are of a dark grey; her veil, which
she wears hoodwise, is partly black and partly white; and the wimple
which she wears round her neck is also white. The bench and desk, the
pilgrim’s staff, the letters S. P. Q. R., the lion, the crown, and the
nimbus surrounding the head of St. Bridget and that of the Virgin, are
yellow. The ground is green, and the whole cut is surrounded with a
border of a shining mulberry or lake colour.

Mr. Ottley, having at the very outset of his Inquiry adopted Papillon’s
story of the Cunio, is compelled, for consistency’s sake, in the
subsequent portion of his work, when speaking of early wood engravings
such as the above, to consider them, not as the earliest known specimens
of the art, but merely as wood engravings such as were produced upwards
of a hundred and thirty years after the amiable and accomplished Cunio,
a mere boy and a girl, had in Italy produced a set of wood engravings,
one of which was so well composed that Le Brun might be suspected of
having borrowed from it the design of one of his most complicated
pictures. In his desire, in support of his theory, to refer the oldest
wood-cuts to Italy, Mr. Ottley asks: “What if these two prints [the St.
Christopher and the Annunciation] should prove to be, not the
productions of Germany, but rather of Venice, or of some district of the
territory then under the dominion of that republic?”

His principal reasons for the preceding conjecture, are the ancient use
of the word _stampide_--“printed”--in the Venetian decree against the
introduction of foreign playing-cards in 1441; and the resemblance which
the Annunciation bears to the style of the early Italian schools. Now,
with respect to the first of these reasons, it is founded on the
assumption that both those impressions have been obtained by means of a
press of some kind or other,--a fact which remains yet to be proved; for
until the backs of both shall have been examined, and the mark of the
burnisher or rubber found wanting, no person’s mere opinion, however
confidently declared, can be decisive of the question. It also remains
to be proved that the word _stampide_, which occurs in the Venetian
decree, was employed there to signify “_printed with a press_.” For it
is certain that the low Latin word _stampare_, with its cognates in the
different languages of Europe, was used at that period to denote
_impression_ generally. But even supposing that “_stampide_” signifies
“printed” in the modern acceptation of the word, and that the two
impressions in question were obtained by means of a press; the argument
in favour of their being Italian would gain nothing, unless we assume
that the _foreign_ printed cards and figures, which were forbid to be
imported into Venice, were produced either within the territory of that
state or in Italy; for the word _stampide_--“_printed_,” is applied to
them as well as those manufactured within the city. Now we know that the
German card-makers used to send great quantities of cards to Venice
about the period when the decree was made, while we have no evidence of
any Italian cities manufacturing cards for exportation in 1441; it is
therefore most likely that if the Venetians were acquainted with the use
of the press in taking impressions from wood-blocks, the Germans were so
too, and for these more probable reasons, admitting the cuts in question
to have been printed by means of a press:--First, the fact of those
wood-cuts being discovered in Germany in the very district where we
first hear of wood-engravers; and secondly, that if the Venetian
wood-engravers were acquainted with the use of the press in taking
impressions while the Germans were not, it is very unlikely that the
latter would be able to undersell the Venetians in their own city. Until
something like a probable reason shall be given for supposing the cuts
in question to be productions “of Venice, or some other district of the
territory then under the dominion of that republic,” I shall continue to
believe that they were executed in the district in which they were
discovered, and which has supplied to the collections of amateurs so
many old wood engravings of a similar kind. No wood engravings executed
in Italy, are known of a date earlier than those contained in the
“Meditationes Johannis de Turre-cremata,” printed at Rome 1467,--and
printed, be it observed, by a German, Ulrick Hahn. The circular wood
engravings in the British Museum,[II-18] which Mr. Ottley says are
indisputably Italian, and of the old dry taste of the fifteenth century,
can scarcely be referred to an earlier period than 1500, and my own
opinion is that they are not older than 1510. The manner in which they
are engraved is that which we find prevalent in Italian wood-cuts
executed between 1500 and 1520.

    [Footnote II-18: Those cuts consist of illustrations of the New
    Testament. There are ten of them, apparently a portion of a larger
    series, in the British Museum; and they are marked in small
    letters, a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. k. n. That which is marked
    g. also contains the words “Opus Jacobi.” In this cut a specimen
    of cross-hatching may be observed, which was certainly very little
    practised--if at all--in Italy, before 1500.]

With respect to the resemblance which the Annunciation bears to the
style of the early Italian school,--I beg to observe that it equally
resembles many of the productions of contemporary “schools” of England
and France, as displayed in many of the drawings contained in old
illuminated manuscripts. It would be no difficult matter to point out in
many old German engravings attitudes at least as graceful as the
Virgin’s; and as to her drapery, which is said to be “wholly unlike the
angular sharpness, the stiffness and the flutter of the ancient German
school,” I beg to observe that those peculiarities are not of so
frequent occurrence in the works of German artists, whether sculptors,
painters, or wood-engravers, who lived before 1450, as in the works of
those who lived after that period. Angular sharpness and flutter in the
draperies are not so characteristic of early German art generally, as of
German art towards the end of the fifteenth, and in the early part of
the sixteenth century.

Even the St. Bridget, which he considers to be of a date not later than
the close of the fourteenth century,[II-19] Mr. Ottley, with a German
inscription before his eyes, is inclined to give to an artist of the Low
Countries; and he kindly directs the attention of Coster’s partisans to
the shield of arms--probably intended for those of Sweden--at the
right-hand corner of the cut. Meerman had discovered a seal, having in
the centre a shield charged with a lion rampant--the bearing of the
noble family of Brederode--a label of three points, and the mark of
illegitimacy--a bend sinister, and surrounded by the inscription,
“S[igillum] Lowrens Janssoen,” which with him was sufficient evidence of
its being the identical seal of Laurence, the Coster or churchwarden of

    [Footnote II-19: Mr. Ottley’s reason for considering this cut to
    be so old is, that “after that period [1400] an artist, who was
    capable of designing so good a figure, could scarcely have been so
    grossly ignorant of every effect of linear perspective, as was
    evidently the case with the author of the performance before
    us.”--Inquiry, p. 87. Offences, however, scarcely less gross
    against the rules of linear perspective, are to be found in the
    wood-cuts in the Adventures of Sir Theurdank, 1517, many of which
    contain figures superior to that of St. Bridget. Errors in
    perspective are indeed frequent in the designs of many of the most
    eminent of Albert Durer’s contemporaries, although in other
    respects the figures may be correctly drawn, and the general
    composition good.]

    [Footnote II-20: An engraving of this seal is given in the first
    volume of Meerman’s Origines Typographicæ.]

We thus perceive on what grounds the right of Germany to three of the
oldest wood-cuts known is questioned; and upon what traits of
resemblance they are ascribed to Italy and the Low Countries. By
adopting Mr. Ottley’s mode of reasoning, it might be shown with equal
probability that a very considerable number of early wood
engravings--whether printed in books or separately--hitherto believed to
be German, were really executed in Italy.

An old wood engraving of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian, of a quarto
size, with a short prayer underneath, and the date 1437, apparently from
the same block, was preserved in the monastery of St. Blaze, in the
Black Forest on the confines of Suabia;[II-21] and another, with the
date 1443 inserted in manuscript, was pasted in a volume belonging to
the library of the monastery of Buxheim. The latter is thus described by
Von Murr: “Through the kindness of the celebrated librarian, Krismer,
whom I have so often mentioned, I am enabled to give an account of an
illuminated wood-cut, which at the latest must have been engraved in
1443. It is pasted on the inside of the cover of a volume which contains
‘_Nicolai Dunkelspül_[II-22] Sermonum Partem Hyemalem.’ It is of quarto
size, being seven and a half inches high, and five and a quarter wide,
and is inclosed within a border of a single line. It is much soiled, as
we perceive in the figures on cards which have been impressed by means
of a rubber. The style in which it is executed is like that of no other
wood-cut which I have ever seen. The cut itself represents three
different subjects, the upper part of it being divided into two
compartments, each three inches square, and separated from each other by
means of a broad perpendicular line. In that to the right is seen St.
Dorothy sitting in a garden, with the youthful Christ presenting flowers
to her, of which she has her lap full. Before her stands a small
hand-basket,--also full of flowers,--such as the ladies of Franconia and
Suabia were accustomed to carry in former times. In the left compartment
is seen St. Alexius, lying at the foot of a flight of steps, upon which
a man is standing and emptying the contents of a pot upon the
saint.[II-23] Between these compartments there appears in manuscript the
date ‘_anno d’ni 1443_.’ Both the ink and the characters correspond with
those of the volume. This date indicates the time when the writer had
finished the book and got it bound, as is more clearly proved by a
memorandum at the conclusion. In the year 1483, before it came into the
possession of the monastery of Buxheim, it belonged to Brother Jacobus
Matzenberger, of the order of the Holy Ghost, and curate of the church
of the Virgin Mary in Memmingen. The whole of the lower part of the cut
is occupied with Christ bearing his cross, at the moment that he meets
with his mother, whom one of the executioners appears to be driving
away. Simon of Cyrene is seen assisting Christ to carry the cross. The
engraving is executed in a very coarse manner.”[II-24]

    [Footnote II-21: Heineken, Neue Nachrichten von Künstlern und
    Kunstsachen. Dresden und Leipzig, 1786, S. 143.]

    [Footnote II-22: In the Table des Matières to Jansen’s Essai sur
    l’Origine de la Gravure, Paris, 1808, we find “Dünkelspül
    (Nicolas) graveur Allemand en 1443.” After this specimen of
    accuracy, it is rather surprising that we do not find St. Alexius
    referred to also as “un graveur Allemand.”]

    [Footnote II-23: St. Alexius returning unknown to his father’s
    house, as a poor pilgrim, was treated with great indignity by the

    [Footnote II-24: Von Murr, Journal, 2 Theil, S. 113-115.]

In the Royal Library at Paris there is an ancient wood-cut of St.
Bernardin, who is represented on a terrace, the pavement of which
consists of alternate squares of yellow, red, and green. In his right
hand the saint holds something resembling the consecrated wafer or host,
in the midst of which is inscribed the name of Christ; and in his left a
kind of oblong casket, on which are the words “_Vide, lege, dulce
nomen_.” Upon a scroll above the head of the saint is engraved the
sentence, “_Ihesus semper sit in ore meo_,” and behind him, on a black
label, is his name in yellow letters, “_Sanct’ Bernard’_.” The cut is
surrounded by a border of foliage, with the emblems of the four
Evangelists at the four corners, and at the foot are the five following
lines, with the date, impressed from prominent lines:--

  _O . splendor . pudicitie . zelator . paupertatis . a
  mator. innocentie . cultor . virginitatis . lustra
  cors . apientie . protector . veritatis . thro
  num . fulgidum . eterne . majestatis . para
  nobis . additum . divine . pietatis . amen. (1454)_

This rare cut was communicated to Jansen by M. Vanpraet, the well-known
bibliographer and keeper of the Royal Library.[II-25]

    [Footnote II-25: Jansen, Essai sur l’Origine de la Gravure, tom.
    i. p. 237. Jansen’s own authority on subjects connected with wood
    engraving is undeserving of attention. He is a mere compiler, who
    scarcely appears to have been able to distinguish a wood-cut from
    a copper-plate engraving.]

“Having visited in my last tour,” says Heineken, after describing the
St. Christopher, “a great many convents in Franconia, Suabia, Bavaria,
and in the Austrian states, I everywhere discovered in their libraries
many of those kinds of figures, engraved on wood, and pasted either at
the beginning or the end of old volumes of the fifteenth century. I have
indeed obtained several of them. These facts, taken altogether, have
confirmed me in my opinion that the next step of the engraver in wood,
after playing-cards, was to engrave figures of saints, which, being
distributed and lost among the laity, were in part preserved by the
monks, who pasted them in the earliest printed books with which they
furnished their libraries.”[II-26]

    [Footnote II-26: Idée Générale, p. 251. Hartman Schedel, the
    compiler of the Nuremberg Chronicle, was accustomed to paste both
    old wood-cuts and copper-plate engravings within the covers of his
    books, many of which were preserved in the Library of the Elector
    of Bavaria at Munich.--Idée Gén. p. 287; and Von Murr, Journal,
    2 Theil, S. 115.]

A great many wood-cuts of devotional subjects, of a period probably
anterior to the invention of book-printing by Gutenberg, have been
discovered in Germany. They are all executed in a rude style, and many
of them are coloured. It is not unlikely that the most of these woodcuts
were executed at the instance of the monks for distribution among the
common people as helps to devotion; and that each monastery, which might
thus avail itself of the aid of wood engraving in the work of piety,
would cause to be engraved the figure of its patron saint. The practice,
in fact, of distributing such figures at monasteries and shrines to
those who visit them, is not yet extinct on the Continent. In Belgium it
is still continued, and, I believe, also in Germany, France, and Italy.
The figures, however, are not generally impressions from wood-blocks,
but are for the most part wholly executed by means of stencils. One of
the latter class, representing the shrine of “Notre Dame de
Hal,”--coloured in the most wretched taste with brick-dust red and
shining green,--is now lying before me. It was given to a gentleman who
visited Halle, near Brussels, in 1829. It is nearly of the same size as
many of the old devotional wood-cuts of Germany, being about four inches
high, by two and three-quarters wide.[II-27]

    [Footnote II-27: Heineken thus speaks of those old devotional
    cuts: “On trouve dans la Bibliothèque de Wolfenbüttel de ces
    sortes d’estampes, qui représentent différens sujets de l’histoire
    sainte et de dévotion, avec du texte vis à vis de la figure, tout
    gravé en bois. Ces pièces sont de la même grandeur que nos cartes
    à jouer: elles portent 3 pouces de hauteur sur 2 pouces 6 lignes
    de largeur.”--Idée Générale, p. 249.]

The next step in the progress of wood engraving, subsequent to the
production of single cuts, such as the St. Christopher, the
Annunciation, and the St. Bridget, in each of which letters are
sparingly introduced, was the application of the art to the production
of those works which are known to bibliographers by the name of
BLOCK-BOOKS: the most celebrated of which are the Apocalypsis, seu
Historia Sancti Johannis; the Historia Virginis ex Cantico Canticorum;
and the Biblia Pauperum. The first is a history, pictorial and literal,
of the life and revelations of St. John the Evangelist, derived in part
from the traditions of the church, but chiefly from the book of
Revelations. The second is a similar history of the Virgin, as it is
supposed to be typified in the Songs of Solomon; and the third consists
of subjects representing some of the most important passages in the Old
and New Testament, with texts either explaining the subject, or
enforcing the example of duty which it may afford. With the above, the
Speculum Humanæ Salvationis is usually, though improperly, classed, as
the whole of the text, in that which is most certainly the first
edition, is printed from movable metal types. In the others the
explanatory matter is engraved on wood, on the same block with the
subject to which it refers.

All the above books have been claimed by Meerman and other Dutch writers
for their countryman, Laurence Coster: and although no date, either
impressed or manuscript, has been discovered in any one copy from which
the period of its execution might be ascertained,[II-28] yet such
appears to have been the clearness of the intuitive light which guided
those authors, that they have assigned to each work the precise year in
which it appeared. According to Seiz, the History of the Old and New
Testament, otherwise called the Biblia Pauperum, appeared in 1432; the
History of the Virgin in 1433; the Apocalypse in 1434; and the Speculum
in 1439. For such assertions, however, he has not the slightest ground.
That the three first might appear at some period between 1430 and 1450,
is not unlikely;[II-29] but that the Speculum--_the text of which in the
first edition was printed from metal types_--should be printed before
1460, is in the highest degree improbable.

    [Footnote II-28: A copy of the Speculum belonging to the city of
    Harlem had at the commencement, “_Ex Officina Laurentii Joannis
    Costeri. Anno 1440_.” But this inscription had been inserted by a
    modern hand--Idée Générale, p. 449.]

    [Footnote II-29: In the catalogue of Dr. Kloss’s Library,
    No. 2024, is a “Historia et Apocalypsis Johannis Evangelistæ,”
    imperfect, printed from wooden blocks. The following are the
    observations of the editor or compiler of the catalogue: “At the
    end of the volume is a short note, written by Pope Martin V., who
    occupied the papal chair from 1417 to 1431. This appears to accord
    with the edition described by Heineken at page 360, excepting in
    the double _a_, No. 3 and 4.” If the note referred to were
    genuine, and actually written in the book, a certain date would be
    at once established. The information, however, comes in a
    questionable shape, as the English _rédacteur’s_ power of
    ascertaining who were the writers of ancient MS. notes appears
    little short of miraculous.]

Upon extremely slight grounds it has been conjectured that the Biblia
Pauperum, the Apocalypse, and the Ars Moriendi,--another
block-book,--were engraved before the year 1430. The Rev. T. H. Horne,
“a gentleman long and well known for his familiar acquaintance with
books printed abroad,” says Dr. Dibdin, “had a copy of each of the three
books above mentioned, bound in one volume, upon the cover of which the
following words were stamped: Hic liber relegatus fuit per Plebanum.
ecclesie”--with the date, according to the best of the Rev. Mr. Horne’s
recollection, 142(8). As he had broken up the volume, and had parted
with the contents, he gave the above information on the strength of his
memory alone. He was, however, confident that “the binding was the
ancient legitimate one, and that the treatises had not been subsequently
introduced into it, and that the date was 142 odd; but positively
anterior to 1430.”[II-30]

    [Footnote II-30: Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol. i. p. 4, cited in
    Ottley’s Inquiry, vol. i. p. 99.]

In such a case as this, however, mere recollection cannot be admitted as
decisive of the fact, more especially when we know the many instances in
which mistakes have been committed in reading the numerals in ancient
dates. At page 88 of his Inquiry, Mr. Ottley, catching at every straw
that may help to support his theory of wood engraving having been
practised by the Cunio and others in the fourteenth century, refers to a
print which a Monsieur Thierry professed to have seen at Lyons,
inscribed “SCHOTING OF NUREMBERG,” with the date 1384; and at p. 256 he
alludes to it again in the following words: “The date 1384 on the
wood-cut preserved at Lyons, said to have been executed at Nuremberg,
appears, I know not why, to have been suspected.” It has been more than
suspected; for, on examination, it has been found to be 1584. Paul Von
Stettin published an account of a Biblia Pauperum, the date of which he
supposed to be 1414; but which, when closely examined, was found to be
1474: and Baron Von Hupsch, of Cologne, published in 1787 an account of
some wood-cuts which he supposed to have been executed in 1420; but
which, in the opinion of Breitkopf, were part of the cuts of a Biblia
Pauperum, in which it was probably intended to give the explanations in
moveable types underneath the cuts, and probably of a later date than

    [Footnote II-31: Singer’s Researches into the History of
    Playing-cards, p. 107.]

It is surprising that the Rev. Mr. Horne, who is no incurious observer
of books, but an author who has written largely on Bibliography, should
not have carefully copied so remarkable a date, or communicated it to a
friend, when it might have been confirmed by a careful examination of
the binding; and still more surprising is it that such binding should
have been destroyed. From the very fact of his not having paid more
particular attention to this most important date, and from his having
permitted the evidence of it to be destroyed, the Rev. Mr. Horne seems
to be an incompetent witness. Who would think of calling a person to
prove from recollection the date of an old and important deed, who, when
he had it in his possession, was so little aware of its value as to
throw it away? The three books in question, when covered by such a
binding, would surely be much greater than when bound in any other
manner. Such a volume must have been unique; and, if the date on the
binding were correct, it must have been admitted as decisive of a fact
interesting to every bibliographer in Europe. It is not even mentioned
in what kind of numerals the date was expressed, whether in Roman or
Arabic. If the numerals had been Arabic, we might very reasonably
suppose that the Rev. Mr. Horne had mistaken a seven for a two, and
that, instead of “142 odd,” the correct date was “147 odd.” In Arabic
numerals, such as were used about the middle of the fifteenth century,
the seven may very easily be mistaken for a two.

The earliest ancient binding known, on which a date is impressed, is,
I believe, that described by Laire.[II-32] It is that of a copy of
“Sancti Hieronymi Epistolæ;” and the words, in the same manner as that
of the binding of which the Rev. Mr. Horne had so accurate a
recollection, were “stamped at the extremity of the binding, towards the
edge of the squares.” It is only necessary to cite the words impressed
on one of the boards, which were as follows:

  “Illigatus est Anno Domini 1469
          Per me Johannem
        Richenbach Capellanum
          In Gyslingen.”[II-33]

    [Footnote II-32: Index Librorum ab inventa Typographia ad annum
    1500, No. 37.]

    [Footnote II-33: Mr. Bohn is in possession of a similarly bound
    volume, namely, “Astexani de Ast, Scrutinium Scripturarum,”
    printed by Mentelin, without date, but about 1468, on the pig-skin
    covers of which is printed in bold black letter, _Per me
    Rich-en-bach illigatus in Gysslingen 1470_.]

The numerals of the date it is to be observed were Arabic. In the
library of Dr. Kloss of Frankfort, sold in London by Sotheby and Son in
1835, were two volumes, “St. Augustini de Civitat. Dei, Libri xxii.
1469,” and “St. Augustini Confessiones” of the same date; both of which
were bound by “Johannes Capellanus in Gyslingen,” and who in the same
manner had impressed his name on the covers with the date 1470. Both
volumes had belonged to “Dominus Georgius Ruch de Gamundia.”[II-34] That
the volume formerly in the Rev. Mr. Horne’s possession was bound by the
curate of Geisslingen I by no means pretend to say, though I am firmly
of opinion that it was bound subsequent to 1470, and that the character
which he supposed to be a two was in reality a different figure. It is
worthy of remark that it appears to have been bound by the “Plebanus” of
some church, a word which is nearly synonymous with “Capellanus.”[II-35]

    [Footnote II-34: “Catalogue of the Library of Dr. Kloss of
    Frankfort,” Nos. 460 and 468. Geisslingen is about fifteen miles
    north-west of Ulm in Suabia, and Gemund about twelve miles
    northward of Geisslingen.]

    [Footnote II-35: Mr. Singer, at page 101 of his Researches into
    the History of Playing-cards, speaks of “_one_ Plebanus of
    Augsburg,” as if Plebanus were a proper name. It has nearly the
    same meaning as our own word “Curate.” “PLEBANUS, Parœcus, Curio,
    Sacerdos, qui _plebi_ præest; Italis, _Piovano_; Gallo-Belgis,
    _Pleban_. Balbus in Catholico: ‘Plebanus, dominus plebis,
    Presbyter, qui plebem regit.’--Plebanum vero maxime vocant in
    ecclesiis cathedralibus seu collegiatis canonicum, cui plebis
    earum jurisdictioni subditæ cura committitur.”--Du Cange,
    Glossarium, in verbo “Plebanus.”]

As it does not come within the plan of the present volume to give a
catalogue of all the subjects contained in the block-books to which it
may be necessary to refer as illustrating the progress of wood
engraving, I shall confine myself to a general notice of the manner in
which the cuts are executed, with occasional observations on the
designs, and such remarks as may be likely to explain any peculiarity of
appearance, or to enable the reader to form a distinct idea of the
subject referred to.

At whatever period the Apocalypse, the History of the Virgin, and the
Biblia Pauperum may have been executed, the former has the appearance of
being the earliest; and in the absence of everything like proof upon the
point, and as the style in which it is engraved is certainly more simple
than that of the other two, it seems entitled to be first noticed in
tracing the progress of the art.

Of the Apocalypse,--or “Historia Sancti Johannis Evangelistæ ejusque
Visiones Apocalypticæ,” as it is mostly termed by bibliographers, for
the book itself has no title,--Heineken mentions no less than six
editions, the earliest of which he considers to be that described by him
at page 367 of his “Idée Générale d’une Collection complète d’Estampes.”
He, however, declares that the marks by which he has assigned to each
edition its comparative antiquity are not infallible. It is indeed very
evident that the marks which he assumed as characteristic of the
relative order of the different editions were merely arbitrary, and
could by no means be admitted as of the slightest consequence in
enabling any person to form a correct opinion on the subject. He notices
two editions as the first and second, and immediately after he mentions
a circumstance which might almost entitle the third to take precedence
of them both; and that which he saw last he thinks the oldest of all.
The designs of the second edition described by him, he says, are by
another master than those of the first, although the artist has adhered
to the same subjects and the same ideas. The third, according to his
observations, differs from the first and second, both in the subjects
and the descriptive text. The fourth edition is from the same blocks as
the third; the only difference between them being, that the fourth is
without the letters in alphabetical order which indicate the succession
of the cuts. The fifth differed from the third or fourth only in the
text and the directing letters, as the designs were the same; the only
variations that could be observed being extremely trifling. After having
described five editions of the book, he decides that a sixth, which he
saw after the others, ought to be considered the earliest of all.[II-36]
In all the copies which he had seen, the impressions had been taken by
means of a rubber, in such a manner that each leaf contained only one
engraving; the other side, which commonly bore the marks of the rubber,
being without a cut. The impressions when collected into a volume faced
each other, so that the first and last pages were blank.

    [Footnote II-36: Idée Générale, pp. 334-370.]

The edition of the Apocalypse to which I shall now refer is that
described by Heineken, at page 364, as the fifth; and the copy is that
mentioned by him, at page 367, as then being in the collection of M. de
Gaignat, and as wanting two cuts, Nos. 36 and 37. It is at present in
the King’s Library at the British Museum.


It is a thin folio in modern red morocco binding, and has, when perfect,
consisted of fifty wood engravings, with their explanatory text also cut
in wood, generally within an oblong border of a single line, within the
_field_ of the engraving, and not added underneath, as in the Speculum
Salvationis, nor in detached compartments, both above and below, as in
the Biblia Pauperum. The paper, which is somewhat of a cream colour, is
stout, with rather a coarse surface, and such as we find the most
ancient books printed on. As each leaf has been pasted down on another
of modern paper, in order to preserve it, the marks of the rubber at the
back of each impression, as described by Heineken, cannot be seen. The
annexed outline is a reduced copy of a paper-mark, which may be
perceived on some of the leaves. It is very like that numbered “vii.” at
p. 224, vol. i. of Mr. Ottley’s Inquiry, and which he says occurs in the
edition called the first Latin of the Speculum Salvationis. It is nearly
the same as that which is to be seen in Earl Spencer’s “Historia
Virginis;” and Santander states that he has noticed a similar mark in
books printed at Cologne by Ulric Zell, and Bart. de Unkel; at Louvain
by John Veldener and Conrad Braen; and in books printed at Utrecht by
Nic. Ketelaer and Gerard de Leempt.

The size of the largest cuts, as defined by the plain lines which form
the border, is about ten and five-eighths inches high, by seven and
six-eighths inches wide; of the smallest, ten and two-eighths inches
high, by seven and three-eighths wide.[II-37] The order in which they
are to be placed in binding is indicated by a letter of the alphabet,
which serves the same purpose as our modern signatures,--engraved in a
conspicuous part of the cut. For instance, the first two, which, as well
as the others, might either face each other or be pasted back to back,
are each marked with the letter +a+; the two next with the letter +b+,
and so on through the alphabet. As the alphabet--which has the i the
same as the j, the v the same as the u, and has not the w--became
exhausted at the forty-sixth cut, the forty-seventh and forty-eighth are
marked with a character which was used to represent the words “et
cetera;” and the forty-ninth and fiftieth with the terminal abbreviation
of the letters “us.” In the copy described by Heineken, he observed that
the directing letters +m+ and +n+ were wanting in the twenty-fourth and
twenty-sixth cuts, and in the copy under consideration they are also
omitted. The m, however, appears to have been engraved, though for some
reason or other not to have been inked in taking an impression; for on a
careful examination of this cut,--without being aware at the time of
Heineken having noticed the omission,--I thought that I could very
plainly discern the indention of the letter above one of the angels in
the upper compartment of the print.

    [Footnote II-37: In the copy of the Biblia Pauperum in the British
                               Inches.          Inches.
            The largest cut is 10-4/8 high, and 7-5/8 wide.
            The smallest  --   10-1/8  --    -- 7-5/8  --

    In the Historia Virginis, also in the British Museum,
            The largest cut is 10-3/8 high, and 7-2/8 wide.
            The smallest  --    9-7/8  --    -- 6-7/8  --]

Of the forty-eight cuts[II-38] contained in the Museum copy, the greater
number are divided by a horizontal line, nearly in the middle, and thus
each consists of two compartments; of the remainder, each is occupied by
a single subject, which fills the whole page. In some, the explanatory
text consists only of two or three lines; and in others it occupies so
large a space, that if it were set up in moderately sized type, it would
be sufficient to fill a duodecimo page. The characters are different
from those in the History of the Virgin and the Biblia Pauperum, and are
smaller than those of the former, and generally larger and more
distinctly cut than those of the latter; and although, as well as in the
two last-named books, the words are much abbreviated, yet they are more
easy to be made out than the text of either of the others. The
impressions on the whole are better taken than those of the Biblia
Pauperum, though in lighter-coloured ink, something like a greyish
sepia, and apparently of a thinner body. It does not appear to have
contained any oil, and is more like distemper or water-colour than
printer’s ink. From the manner in which the lines are indented in the
paper, in several of the cuts, it is evident that they must either have
been subjected to a considerable degree of pressure or have been very
hard rubbed.

    [Footnote II-38: The two which are wanting are those numbered 36
    and 37--that is, the second +s+, and the first +t+--in Heineken’s
    collation. Although there is a memorandum at the commencement of
    the book that those cuts are wanting, yet the person who has put
    in the numbers, in manuscript, at the foot of each, has not
    noticed the omission, but has continued the numbers consecutively,
    marking that 36 which in a perfect copy is 38, and so on to the
    rest. A reference to Heineken from those manuscript numbers
    subsequent to the thirty-fifth cut would lead to error.]

Although some of the figures bear a considerable degree of likeness to
others of the same kind in the Biblia Pauperum, I cannot think that the
designs for both books were made by the same person. The figures in the
different works which most resemble each other are those of saints and
angels, whose form and expression have been represented according to a
conventional standard, to which most of the artists of the period
conformed, in the same manner as in representing the Almighty and
Christ, whether they were painters, glass-stainers, carvers, or
wood-engravers. In many of the figures the drapery is broken into easy
and natural folds by means of single lines; and if this were admitted as
a ground for assigning the cut of the Annunciation to Italy, with much
greater reason might the Apocalypse be ascribed to the same country.

Without venturing to give an opinion whether the cuts were engraved in
Germany, Holland, or in the Low Countries, the drawing of many of the
figures appears to correspond with the idea that I have formed of the
style of Greek art, such as it was in the early part of the fifteenth
century. St. John was the favourite apostle of the Greeks, as St. Peter
was of the church of Rome; and as the Revelations were more especially
addressed to the churches of Greece, they were more generally read in
that country than in Western Europe. Artists mostly copy, in the heads
which they draw, the general expression of the country[II-39] to which
they belong, and where they have received their first impressions; and
in the Apocalypse the character of several of the heads appears to be
decidedly Grecian. The general representation, too, of several visions
would seem to have been suggested by a Greek who was familiar with that
portion of the New Testament which was so generally perused in his
native land, and whose annunciations and figurative prophecies were, in
the early part of the fifteenth century, commonly supposed by his
countrymen to relate to the Turks, who at that time were triumphing over
the cross. With them Mahomet was the Antichrist of the Revelations, and
his followers the people bearing the mark of the beast, who were to
persecute, and for a time to hold in bondage, the members of the church
of Christ. As many Greeks, both artists and scholars, were driven from
their country by the oppression of the Turks several years before the
taking of Constantinople in 1453, I am induced to think that to a Greek
we owe the designs of this edition of the Apocalypse. In the lower
division of the twenty-third cut, _m_, representing the fight of Michael
and his angels with the dragon, the following shields are borne by two
of the heavenly host.

    [Footnote II-39: Witness Rembrandt, who never gets rid of the
    Dutch character, no matter how elevated his subject may be.]



The crescent, as is well known, was one of the badges of Constantinople
long previous to its capture by the Turks. The sort of cross in the
other shield is very like that in the arms of the knights of St.
Constantine, a military order which is said to have been founded at
Constantinople by the Emperor Isaac Angelus Comnenus, in 1190. The above
coincidences, though trifling, tend to support the opinion that the
designs were made by a Greek artist. It is, however, possible, that the
badges on the shields may have been suggested by the mere fancy of the
designer, and that they may equally resemble the heraldic bearings of
some order or of some individuals of Western Europe.

Though some of the designs are very indifferent, yet there are others
which display considerable ability, and several of the single figures
are decidedly superior to any that are contained in the other
block-books. They are drawn with greater vigour and feeling; and though
the designs of the Biblia Pauperum show a greater knowledge of the
mechanism of art, yet the best of them, in point of expression and
emphatic marking of character, are inferior to the best in the

With respect to the engraving, the cuts are executed in the simplest
manner, as there is not the least attempt at shading, by means of cross
lines or hatchings, to be perceived in any one of the designs. The most
difficult part of the engraver’s task, supposing the drawings to have
been made by another person, would be the cutting of the letters, which
in several of the subjects must have occupied a considerable portion of
time, and have required no small degree of care. The following is a
reduced copy of the first cut.


In the upper portion of the subject, St. John is seen addressing four
persons, three men and a woman; and the text at the top informs us of
the success of his ministry: “_Conversi ab idolis, per predicationem
beati Johannis, Drusiana et ceteri._”--“By the preaching of St. John,
Drusiana and others are withdrawn from their idols.” The letter +a+, a
little above the saint’s outstretched hand, indicates that the cut is
the first of the series. In the lower compartment St. John is seen
baptizing Drusiana, who, as she stands naked in the font, is of very
small size compared with the saint. The situation in which Drusiana is
placed might be alleged in support of their peculiar tenets, either by
the Baptists, who advocate immersion as the proper mode of administering
the rite, or by those who consider sprinkling as sufficient; but in each
case with a difficulty which it would not be easy to explain: for if
Drusiana were to be baptized by immersion, the font is too small to
allow her to be dipped overhead; and if the rite were to be administered
by mere sprinkling, why is she standing naked in the font? To the right
of the cut are several figures, two of whom are provided with axes, who
seem wishful to break open the door of the chapel in which St. John and
his proselyte are seen. The inscription above their heads lets us know
that they are--“_Cultores ydolorum explorantes facta ejus_;”--
“Worshippers of idols watching the saint’s proceedings.”

The following cut is a copy of the eighteenth of the Apocalypse, which
is illustrative of the XIth and XIIIth chapters of Revelations. The
upper portion represents the execution of the two witnesses of the Lord,
who are in the tablet named Enoch and Helyas, by the command of the
beast which ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, and which is
Antichrist. He is seen issuing his commands for the execution of the
witnesses; and the face of the executioner who has just used his sword,
and who is looking towards him with an expression of brutal exultation,
might have served Albert Durer for that of the mocker in his cut of
Christ crowned with thorns.


The inscription to the right, is the 7th verse of the XIth chapter, with
the names of Enoch and Helyas inserted as those of the two witnesses:
“_Cum finierunt Enoch et Helyas testimonium suum, bestia quæ ascendit de
abisso faciet contra eos bellum, et vincet eos et occidet illos_.” In
our translation the verse is rendered thus: “And when they shall have
finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless
pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them.”

The tablet to the left contains the following inscription: “_Et jacebunt
corpora eorum in plateis, et non sinent poni in monumentis_.” It is
formed of two passages, in the 8th and 9th verses of the XIth chapter of
Revelations, which are thus rendered in our version of the Bible: “And
their dead bodies shall lie in the street, . . . and they of the people
. . . shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.”

In the lower compartment Antichrist is seen working his miracles,
uprooting the two olive trees, typical of the two witnesses whom he had
caused to be slain.[II-40] Two of his followers are seen kneeling as if
worshipping him, while more to the left are the supporters of the true
faith delivered into the hands of executioners. The design is
illustrative of the XIIIth chapter of Revelations. The following is the
inscription above the figure of Antichrist:--“_Hic facit Antichristus
miracula sua, et credentes in ipsum honorat, et incredentes variis
interficit pœnis_.”--“Here Antichrist is performing his miracles,
honouring those who believe in him, and putting the incredulous to death
by various punishments.” The leaves of the trees which Antichrist has
miraculously uprooted are extremely like those of the tree of life
engraved in one of the cuts of the Biblia Pauperum, and of which a copy
will be found in a subsequent page.

    [Footnote II-40: Revelations, chap. xi. verses 3d and 4th.]

In several of the cuts, the typical expressions which occur in the texts
are explained. Thus, in cut eighth, we are informed that “_Stolæ albæ
animarum gloriam designant_.”--“The white vestments denote the glory of
departed souls.” In the lower compartment of the same cut, the “_cæli
recessio_”--“the opening of the heavens”--is explained to be the
communication of the Bible to the Gentiles. In the lower compartment of
the ninth cut, “much incense” is said to signify the precepts of the
Gospel; the “censers,” the hearts of the Apostles; and the “golden
altar,” the Church.

The next block-book which demands notice is that named “Historia seu
Providentia Virginis Mariæ, ex Cantico Canticorum:” that is, “The
History or Prefiguration of the Virgin Mary, from the Song of Songs.” It
is of small-folio size, and consists of sixteen leaves, printed on one
side only by means of friction; and the ink is of a dark brown,
approaching nearly to black. Each impressed page contains two subjects,
one above the other; the total number of subjects in the book is,
consequently, thirty-two.

Of this book, according to the observations of Heineken, there are two
editions; which, from variations noticed by him in the explanatory text,
are evidently from different blocks; but, as the designs are precisely
the same, it is certain that the one has been copied from the
other.[II-41] That which he considers to be the first edition, has, in
his opinion, been engraved in Germany; the other, he thinks, was a copy
of the original, executed by some engraver in Holland. The principal
ground on which he determines the priority of the editions is, that in
the one the text is much more correctly given than in the other; and he
thence concludes that the most correct would be the second. In this
opinion I concur; not that his rule will universally hold good, but that
in this case the conclusion which he has drawn seems the most probable.
The designs, it is admitted, are precisely the same; and as the cuts of
the one would in all probability be engraved from tracings or transfers
of the other, it is not likely that we should find such a difference in
the text of the two editions if that of the first were correct.
A wood-engraver--on this point I speak from experience--would be much
more likely to commit literal errors in copying manuscript, than to
deviate in cutting a fac-simile from a correct impression. Had the text
of the first edition been correct,--considering that the designs of the
one edition are exact copies of those of the other,--it is probable that
the text of both would have been more nearly alike. But as there are
several errors in the text of the first edition, it is most likely that
many of them would be discovered and corrected by the person at whose
instance the designs were copied for the second. Diametrically opposite
to this conclusion is that of Mr. Ottley, who argues as follows:[II-42]
“Heineken endeavours to draw another argument in favour of the
originality of the edition possessed by Pertusati, Verdussen, and the
Bodleian library, from the various errors, in that edition, in the Latin
inscriptions on the scrolls; which, he says, are corrected in the other
edition. But it is evident that this circumstance makes in favour of an
opposite conclusion. The artist who originally invented the work must
have been well acquainted with Latin, since it is, in fact, no other
than an union of many of the most beautiful verses of the Book of
Canticles, with a series of designs illustrative of the divine mysteries
supposed to be revealed in that sacred poem; and, consequently, we have
reason to consider that edition the original in which the inscriptions
are given with the most correctness; and to ascribe the gross blunders
in the other to the ignorance of some ordinary wood-engraver by whom the
work was copied.” Even granting the assumption that the engraver of the
edition, supposed by Mr. Ottley to be the first, was well acquainted
with Latin, and that he who engraved the presumed second did not
understand a word of that language, yet it by no means follows that the
latter could not make a correct tracing of the engraved text lying
before him. Because a draughtsman is unacquainted with a language, it
would certainly be most erroneous to infer that he would be incapable of
copying the characters correctly. Besides, though it does not benefit
his argument a whit, it is surely assuming too much to assert that the
artist who made the designs also selected the texts, and that he _must_
have been well acquainted with Latin; and that he who executed Mr.
Ottley’s presumed second edition was some ignorant ordinary
wood-engraver. Did the artists who executed the fac-similes in Mr.
Ottley’s work, or in Dr. Dibdin’s “Bibliotheca Spenceriana,” understand
the abbreviated Latin which in many instances they had to engrave; and
did they in consequence of their ignorance of that language copy
incorrectly the original texts and sentences which were before them?

    [Footnote II-41: Idée Générale, p. 376.]

    [Footnote II-42: Inquiry, vol. i. p. 140.]

In a copy which Heineken considers to be of the second edition,
belonging to the city of Harlem, that writer observed the following
inscription, from a wood block, impressed, as I understand him, at the
top of the first cut. “+Dit is die voersinicheit va Marie der mod .
godes . en is gehete in lath+ . _Cāti._” This inscription--which
Heineken says is “en langue Flamande, ou plûtôt en Plât-Alemand”--may be
expressed in English as follows: “This is the prefiguration of Mary the
mother of God, and is in Latin named the Canticles.” Heineken expresses
no doubt of this inscription being genuine, though he makes use of it as
an argument in support of his opinion, that the copy in which it occurs
was one of later edition; “for it is well known,” he observes, “that the
earliest editions of printed books are without titles, and more
especially those of block-books.” As this inscription, however, has been
found in the Harlem copy only, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Ottley in
considering it as a silly fraud devised by some of the compatriots of
Coster for the purpose of establishing a fact which it is, in reality,
much better calculated to overthrow.[II-43]

    [Footnote II-43: Inquiry, p. 140.]

Heineken, who appears to have had more knowledge than taste on the
subject of art, declares the History of the Virgin to be “the most
Gothic of all the block-books; that it is different from them both in
the style of the designs and of the engraving; and that the figures are
very like the ancient sculptures in the churches of Germany.” If by the
term “Gothic” he means rude and tasteless, I differ with him entirely;
for, though there be great sameness in the subjects, yet the figures,
generally, are more gracefully designed than those of any other
block-book that I have seen. Compared with them, those of the Biblia
Pauperum and the Speculum might be termed “Gothic” indeed.


The above group,--from that which Heineken considers the first
edition,--in which the figures are of the size of the originals, is
taken from the seventh subject in Mr. Ottley’s enumeration;[II-44] that
is, from the upper portion of the fourth cut.

    [Footnote II-44: Inquiry, p. 144, vol. i.]

The text is the 14th verse of the 1st chapter of the Song of Solomon:
“_Botrus cipri dilectus meus inter vineas enngadi_;” which in our Bible
is translated: “My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the
vineyards of En-gedi.” In every cut the female figures are almost
precisely the same, and the drapery and the expression scarcely vary.
From the easy and graceful attitudes of his female figures, as well as
from the manner in which they are clothed, the artist may be considered
as the Stothard of his day.



The two preceding subjects are impressed on the second leaf, in the
order in which they are here represented, forming Nos. 3 and 4 in Mr.
Ottley’s enumeration. They are reduced copies from the originals in the
first edition, and afford a correct idea of a complete page.[II-45]

    [Footnote II-45: The copy from which the preceding specimens are
    given was formerly the property of the Rev. C. M. Cracherode, by
    whom it was left, with the rest of his valuable collection of
    books, to the British Museum.]

On the scroll to the left, in the upper subject, the words are intended
for--“_Trahe me, post te curremus in odore unguentorum tuorum_.” They
are to be found in the 4th and 3rd verses of the 1st chapter of the Song
of Solomon. In our Bible the phrases are translated as follows: “Draw
me, we will run after thee, . . . [in] the savour of thy good
ointments.” In the scroll to the right, the inscription is from the 14th
verse of the IInd chapter: “_Sonet vox tua in auribus meis, vox enim tua
dulcis et facies tua decora_:” which is thus rendered in our Bible: “Let
me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is

On the scroll to the left, in the lower compartment, is the following
inscription, from verse 10th, chapter IInd: “_En dilectus meus loquitur
mihi, Surge, propera, amica mea_:” in our Bible translated thus: “My
beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come
away.” The inscription on the scroll to the right is from 1st verse of
chapter IVth: “_Quam pulchra es amica mea, quam pulchra es! Oculi tui
columbarum, absque eo quod intrinsecus latet._” The translation of this
passage in our Bible does not correspond with that of the Vulgate in the
last clause: “Behold thou art fair, my love; behold thou art fair; thou
hast doves’ eyes _within thy locks_.”

The style in which the cuts of the History of the Virgin are engraved
indicates a more advanced state of art than those in the Apocalypse. The
field of each cut is altogether better filled, and the subjects contain
more of what an engraver would term “work;” and shadowing, which is
represented by courses of single lines, is also introduced. The
back-grounds are better put in, and throughout the whole book may be
observed several indications of a perception of natural beauty; such as
the occasional introduction of trees, flowers, and animals.
A vine-stock, with its trellis, is happily and tastefully introduced at
folio 4 and folio 10; and at folio 12 a goat and two sheep, drawn and
engraved with considerable ability, are perceived in the background.
Several other instances of a similar kind might be pointed out as proofs
that the artist, whoever he might be, was no unworthy precursor of
Albert Durer.

From a fancied delicacy in the engraving of the cuts of the History of
the Virgin, Dr. Dibdin was led to conjecture that they were the
“production of some metallic substance, and not struck off from wooden
blocks.”[II-46] This speculation is the result of a total ignorance of
the practical part of wood engraving, and of the capabilities of the
art; and the very process which is suggested involves a greater
difficulty than that which is sought to be removed. But, in fact, so far
from the engravings being executed with a delicacy unattainable on wood,
there is nothing in them--so far as the mere cutting of fancied delicate
lines is concerned--which a mere apprentice of the present day, using
very ordinary tools, would not execute as well, either on pear-tree,
apple-tree, or beech, the kinds of wood on which the earliest engravings
are supposed to have been made. Working on box, there is scarcely a line
in all the series which a skilful wood-engraver could not split. In a
similar manner Mr. John Landseer conjectured from the frequent
occurrence of cross-hatching in the wood engravings of the sixteenth
century, that they, instead of being cut on wood, had in reality been
executed on type-metal; although, as is known to every wood-engraver,
the execution of such hatchings on type-metal would be more difficult
than on wood. When, in refutation of his opinion, he was shown
impressions from such presumed blocks or plates of type-metal, which
from certain marks in the impressions had been evidently worm-eaten,
he--in the genuine style of an “ingenious disputant” who could

  “Confute the exciseman and puzzle the vicar,--”

abandoned type-metal, and fortified his “_stubborn_ opinion behind
_vegetable putties_ or pastes that are capable of being hardened--or any
substance that is capable of being _worm-eaten_.”[II-47] Such “commenta
opinionum”--the mere figments of conjecture--only deserve notice in
consequence of their extravagance.

    [Footnote II-46: Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol. i. p. 36. Mr.
    Ottley cites the passage at p. 139, vol i. of his Inquiry, for the
    purpose of expressing his dissent from the theory.]

    [Footnote II-47: Landseer’s Lectures on the Art of Engraving, pp.
    201-205, 8vo. London, 1807.]

The History of the Virgin, in the same manner as every other ancient
block-book, has been claimed for Coster by those who ascribe to him the
invention both of wood engraving and printing with moveable types; but
if even the churchwarden of St. Bavon’s in Harlem ever had handled a
graver, or made a design, or if he was even the cause of wood-cuts being
engraved by others,--every one of which assertions I very much doubt,--I
should yet feel strongly inclined to believe that the work in question
was the production of an artist residing either in Suabia or Alsace.

Scarcely any person who has had an opportunity of examining the works of
Martin Schön, or Schöngauer,--one of the earliest German copper-plate
engravers,--who is said to have died in 1486, can fail, on looking over
the designs in the History of the Virgin, to notice the resemblance
which many of his female figures bear to those in the above-named work.
The similarity is too striking to have been accidental. I am inclined to
believe that Martin Schön must have studied--and diligently too--the
subjects contained in the History, or that he had received his
professional education in a school which might possibly be founded by
the artist who designed and engraved the wood-cuts in question, or under
a master who had thoroughly adopted their style.

Martin Schön was a native of Colmar in Alsace, where he was born about
1453, but was a descendant of a family, probably of artists, which
originally belonged to Augsburg. Heineken and Von Murr both bear
testimony,[II-48] though indirectly, to the resemblance which his works
bear to the designs in the History of the Virgin. The former states that
the figures in the History are very like the ancient sculptures in the
churches of Germany, and Von Murr asserts that such sculptures were
probably Martin Schön’s models.

    [Footnote II-48: Heineken, Idée Générale, p. 374. Von Murr,
    Journal, 2 Theil, S. 43.]

In two or three of the designs in the History of the Virgin several
shields of arms are introduced, either borne by figures, or suspended
from a wall. As the heraldic emblems on such shields were not likely to
be entirely suggested by the mere fancy of the artist, I think that most
of them will be found to belong to Germany rather than to Holland; and
the charge on one of them,--two fish back to back, which is rather
remarkable, and by no means common, is one of the quarterings of the
former Counts of Wirtemberg, the very district in which I am inclined to
think the work was executed. I moreover fancy that in one of the cuts I
can perceive an allusion to the Council of Basle, which in 1439 elected
Amadeus of Savoy as Pope, under the title of Felix V, in opposition to
Eugene IV. In order to afford those who are better acquainted with the
subject an opportunity of judging for themselves, and of making further
discoveries which may support my opinions if well-founded, or which may
correct them if erroneous, I shall give copies of all the shields of
arms which occur in the book. The following cut of four figures--a pope,
two cardinals, and a bishop--occurs in the upper compartment of the
nineteenth folio. The shield charged with a black eagle also occurs in
the same compartment.


The preceding figures are seen looking over the battlements of a house
in which the Virgin, typical of the Church, is seen in bed. On a scroll
is inscribed the following sentence, from the Song of Solomon, chap.
iii. v. 2: “_Surgam et circumibo civitatem; per vicos et plateas queram
quem diligit anima mea_:” which is thus translated in our Bible: “I will
rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I
will seek him whom my soul loveth.” In the same design, the Virgin, with
her three attendants, are seen in a street, where two men on horseback
appear taking away her mantle. One of the men bears upon his shield the
figure of a black eagle, the same as that which appears underneath the
wood-cut above given. Upon a scroll is this inscription, from Solomon’s
Song, chapter V. verse 7: “_Percusserunt et vulneraverunt me, tulerunt
pallium meum custodes murorum_.” In our Bible the entire verse is thus
translated: “The watchmen that went about the city found me; they smote
me, they wounded me: the keepers of the walls took away my veil from

As the incidents in the life of the Virgin, described in the Canticles,
were assumed by commentators to be typical of the history of the Church,
I am inclined to think that the above cut may contain an allusion to the
disputes between Pope Eugene IV. and the Council assembled at Basle in
1439. The passage in the first inscription, “I will seek him whom my
soul loveth,” might be very appropriately applied to a council which
professed to represent the Church, and which had chosen for itself a new
head. The second inscription would be equally descriptive of the
treatment which, in the opinion of the same council, the Church had
received from Eugene IV, whom they declared to be deposed, because “he
was a disturber of the peace and union of the Church; a schismatic and a
heretic; guilty of simony; perjured and incorrigible.” On the shield
borne by the figure of a pope wearing a triple crown, is a fleur-de-lis;
but whether or no this flower formed part of the armorial distinctions
of Amadeus Duke of Savoy, whom the council chose for their new pope,
I have not been able to ascertain. The lion borne by the second figure,
a cardinal, is too general a cognizance to be assigned to any particular
state or city. The charge on the shield borne by the third figure, also
a cardinal, I cannot make out. The cross-keys on the bishop’s shield are
the arms of the city of Ratisbon.

The following shields are borne by angels, who appear above the
battlements of a wall in the lower compartment of folio 4, forming the
eighth subject in Mr. Ottley’s enumeration.


On these I have nothing to remark further than that the double-headed
eagle is the arms of the German empire. The other three I leave to be
deciphered by others. The second, with an indented chief, and something
like a rose in the field, will be found, I am inclined to think, to be
the arms of some town or city in Wirtemberg or Alsace. I give the three
inscriptions here, not that they are likely to throw any light on the
subject, but because the third has not hitherto been deciphered. They
are all from the IVth chapter of the Song of Solomon. The first is from
verse 12: “_Ortus conclusus est soror, mea sposa; ortus conclusus, fons
signatus_:” in our translation of the Bible: “A garden enclosed is my
sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” The second is
from verse 15: “_Fons ortorum, puteus aquarum vivencium quæ fluunt
impetu de Lybano_:” in our Bible: “A fountain of gardens, a well of
living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” The third is from verse 16:
“_Surge Aquilo; veni Auster, perfla ortum et fluant aromata illius_:” in
our Bible: “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my
garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.”


In the upper division of folio 15, which is the twenty-ninth subject in
Mr. Ottley’s enumeration, the above shields occur. They are suspended on
the walls of a tower, which is represented by an inscription as “the
armoury whereon hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty

    [Footnote II-49: Song of Solomon, chap. iv. verse 4.]

On the first four I shall make no remark beyond calling the attention of
those skilled in German heraldry to the remarkable charge in the first
shield, which appears something like a cray-fish. The sixth, “two trouts
hauriant and addorsed,” is one of the quarterings of the house of
Wirtemberg as lords of Mompelgard. The seventh is charged with three
crowns, the arms of the city of Cologne. The charge of the eighth I take
to be three cinquefoils, which are one of the quarterings of the family
of Aremberg. The cross-keys in the ninth are the arms of the city of

The four following shields occur in the lower division of folio 15. They
are borne by men in armour standing by the side of a bed. On a scroll is
the following inscription, from the 7th and 8th verses of the third
chapter of Solomon’s Song. “_En lectulum Salomonis sexaginta fortes
ambiunt, omnes tenentes gladios_:” in our Bible: “Behold his bed, which
is Solomon’s; three score valiant men are about it . . . . . they all
hold swords.”

The first three of the shields on the following page I shall leave to be
assigned by others. The fourth, which is charged with a rose, was the
arms of Hagenau, a town in Alsace.


As so little is known respecting the country where, and the precise time
when, the principal block-books appeared,--of which the History of the
Virgin is one,--I think every particular, however trifling, which may be
likely to afford even a gleam of light, deserving of notice. It is for
this reason that I have given the different shields contained in this
and the preceding pages; not in the belief that I have made any
important discovery, or established any considerable facts; but with the
desire of directing to this subject the attention of others, whose
further inquiries and comparisons may perhaps establish such a perfect
identity between the arms of a particular district, and those contained
in the volume, as may determine the probable locality of the place where
it was executed. The coincidences which I have noticed were not sought
for. Happening to be turning over Sebastian Munster’s Cosmography when a
copy of the History of the Virgin was before me, I observed that the two
fish in the arms of the Counts of Wirtemberg,[II-50] and those in the
15th folio of the History, were the same. The other instances of
correspondence were also discovered without search, from having
occasionally, in tracing the progress of wood engraving, to refer to
Merian’s Topographia.

    [Footnote II-50: Those arms are to be seen in Sebastiana Munsteri
    Cosmographia, cap. De Regione Wirtenbergensi, p. 592. Folio,
    Basiliæ, apud Henrichum Petri, 1554.]

Considering the thickness of the paper on which the block-books are
printed,--if I may apply this term to them,--and the thin-bodied ink
which has been used. I am at a loss to conceive how the early
wood-engravers have contrived to take off their impressions so
correctly; for in all the block-books which I have seen, where friction
has evidently been the means employed to obtain the impression, I have
only noticed two subjects in which the lines appeared double in
consequence of the shifting of the paper. From the want of body in the
ink, which appears in the Apocalypse to have been little more than
water-colour, it is not likely the paper could be used in a damp state,
otherwise the ink would run or spread; and, even if this difficulty did
not exist, the paper in a damp state could not have borne the excessive
rubbing which it appears to have received in order to obtain the
impression.[II-51] Even with such printer’s ink as is used in the
present day,--which being tenacious, renders the paper in taking an
impression by means of friction much less liable to slip or shift,--it
would be difficult to obtain clear impressions on thick paper from
blocks the size of those which form each page of the Apocalypse, or the
History of the Virgin.

    [Footnote II-51: The backs of many of the old wood-cuts which have
    been taken by means of friction, still appear bright in
    consequence of the rubbing which the paper has sustained in order
    to obtain the impression. They would not have this appearance if
    the paper had been used in a damp state.]

Mr. Ottley, however, states that no less than two pages of the History
of the Virgin have been engraved on the same block. His observations on
this subject are as follows: “Upon first viewing this work, I was of
opinion that each of the designs contained in it was engraved upon a
separate block of wood: but, upon a more careful examination, I have
discovered that the contents of each two pages--that is, four
subjects--were engraved on the same block. The number of wooden blocks,
therefore, from which the whole was printed, was only eight. This is
proved in the first two pages of the copy before me;[II-52] where, near
the bottom of the two upper subjects, the block appears to have been
broken in two, in a horizontal direction,--after it was engraved,--and
joined together again; although not with such exactness but that the
traces of the operation clearly show themselves. The traces of a similar
accident are still more apparent in the last block, containing the Nos.
29, 30, 31, 32. The whole work was, therefore, printed on eight sheets
of paper from the same number of engraved blocks, the first four
subjects being printed from the same block upon the same sheet,--and so
on with the rest; and, indeed, in Lord Spencer’s copy, each sheet, being
mounted upon a guard, distinctly shows itself entire.”[II-53]

    [Footnote II-52: This must have been a copy of that which Heineken
    calls the second edition; no such appearances of a fracture or
    joining are to be seen in the first.]

    [Footnote II-53: Inquiry, p. 142.]

The appearance of a corresponding fracture in two adjacent pages would
certainly render it likely that both were engraved on the same block;
though I should like to have an opportunity of satisfying myself by
inspection whether such appearances are really occasioned by a fracture
or not; for it is rather singular that such appearances should be
observable on the _first_ and the _last_ blocks only. I always
reluctantly speculate, except on something like sufficient grounds; but
as I have not seen a copy of the edition to which Mr. Ottley refers,
I beg to ask if the traces of supposed fracture in the last two pages do
not correspond with those in the first two? and if so, would it not be
equally reasonable to infer that eight subjects instead of four were
engraved on the same block? A block containing only two pages would be
about seventeen inches by ten, allowing for inner margins; and to obtain
clear impressions from it by means of friction, on dry thick paper, and
with mere water-colour ink, would be a task of such difficulty that I
cannot conceive how it could be performed. No traces of points by which
the paper might be kept steady on the block are perceptible; and I
unhesitatingly assert that no wood-engraver of the present day could by
means of friction take clear impressions from such a block on equally
thick paper, and using mere distemper instead of printer’s ink. As the
impressions in the History of the Virgin have unquestionably been taken
by means of friction, it is evident to me that if the blocks were of the
size that Mr. Ottley supposes, the old wood-engravers, who did not use a
press, must have resorted to some contrivance to keep the paper steady,
with which we are now unacquainted.

Heineken describes an edition of the Apocalypse consisting of
forty-eight leaves, with cuts on one side only, which, when bound, form
a volume of three “_gatherings_,” or collections, each containing
sixteen leaves. Each of these gatherings is formed by eight folio sheets
folded in the middle, and placed one within the other, so that the cuts
are worked off in the following manner: On the outer sheet of the
gathering, forming the first and the sixteenth leaf, the first and the
sixteenth cuts are impressed, so that when the sheet is folded they face
each other, and the first and the last pages are left blank. In a
similar manner the 2nd and 15th; the 3d and 14th; the 4th and 13th; the
5th and 12th; the 6th and 11th; the 7th and 10th, and the 8th and 9th,
are, each pair respectively, impressed on the same side of the same
sheet. These sheets when folded for binding are then placed in such a
manner that the first is opposite the second; the third opposite the
fourth, and so on throughout the whole sixteen. Being arranged in this
manner, two cuts and two blank pages occur alternately. The reason for
this mode of arrangement was, that the blank pages might be pasted
together, and the cuts thus appear as if one were impressed on the back
of another. A familiar illustration of this mode of folding, adopted by
the early wood-engravers before they were accustomed to impress their
cuts on both sides of a leaf, is afforded by forming a sheet of paper
into a little book of sixteen leaves, and numbering the second and third
pages 1 and 2, leaving two pages blank; then numbering the fifth and
sixth 3 and 4, and so to No. 16, which will stand opposite to No. 15,
and have its back, forming the outer page of the gathering, unimpressed.

Of all the block-books, that which is now commonly called “BIBLIA
PAUPERUM,”--the Bible of the Poor,--is most frequently referred to as a
specimen of that kind of printing from wood-blocks which preceded
typography, or printing by means of moveable characters or types. This
title, however, has given rise to an error which certain learned
bibliographers have without the least examination adopted, and have
afterwards given to the public considerably enlarged, at least, if not
corrected.[II-54] It has been gravely stated that this book, whose text
is in abbreviated Latin, was printed for the use of the _poor_ in an age
when even the _rich_ could scarcely read their own language. Manuscripts
of the Bible were certainly at that period both scarce and costly, and
not many individuals even of high rank were possessed of a copy; but to
conclude that the first editions of the so-called “Biblia Pauperum” were
engraved and printed for the use of the poor, appears to be about as
legitimate an inference as to conclude that, in the present day, the
reprints of the Roxburghe club were published for the benefit of the
poor who could not afford to purchase the original editions. That a
merchant or a wealthy trader might occasionally become the purchaser of
“Biblia Pauperum,” I am willing to admit,--though I am of opinion that
the book was never expressly intended for the laity;--but that it should
be printed for the use of the poor, I cannot bring myself to believe. If
the poor of Germany in the fifteenth century had the means of purchasing
such books, and were capable of reading them, I can only say that they
must have had more money to spare than their descendants, and have been
more learned than most of the rich people throughout Europe in the
present day. If the accounts which we have of the state of knowledge
about 1450 be correct, the monk or friar who could read and expound such
a work must have been esteemed as a person of considerable literary

    [Footnote II-54: “It is a manual or kind of Catechism of the
    Bible,” says the Rev. T. H. Horne, “for the use of young persons
    and of the common people, whence it derives its name _Biblia
    Pauperum_,--_the Bible of the Poor_,--who were thus enabled to
    acquire, at a comparatively low price, an imperfect knowledge of
    some of the events recorded in the Scripture.”--Introduction to
    the Critical Study of the Scriptures, vol. ii. p. 224-5. The young
    and the poor must have been comparatively learned at that period
    to be able to read cramped Latin, when many a priest could
    scarcely spell his breviary.]

The name “Biblia Pauperum” was unknown to Schelhorn and Schœpflin, and
was not adopted by Meerman. Schelhorn, who was the first that published
a fac-simile of one of the pages engraved on wood, gives it no
distinctive name; but merely describes it as “a book which contained in
text and figures certain histories and prophecies of the Old Testament,
which, in the author’s judgment, were figurative of Christ, and of the
works performed by him for the salvation of mankind.”[II-55] Schœpflin
calls it, “Vaticinia Veteris Testamenti de Christo;”[II-56]--“Prophecies
of the Old Testament concerning Christ;” but neither this title, nor the
description of Schelhorn, is sufficiently comprehensive; for the book
contains not only prophecies and typical figures from the Old Testament,
but also passages and subjects selected from the New. The title which
Meerman gives to it is more accurately descriptive of the contents:
“Figuræ typicæ Veteris atque antitypicæ Novi Testamenti, seu Historia
Jesu Christi in figuris;” that is, “Typical figures of the Old Testament
and antitypical of the New, or the History of Jesus Christ pictorially

    [Footnote II-55: J. G. Schelhorn, Amœnitates Literariæ, tom. iv.
    p. 297. 8vo. Francofurt. & Lips. 1730. Lichtenberger, Initia
    Typographica, p. 4, says erroneously, that Schelhorn’s fac-simile
    was engraved on copper. It is on wood, as Schelhorn himself states
    at p. 296.]

    [Footnote II-56: J. D. Schœpflin, Vindiciæ Typographicæ, p. 7,
    4to. Argentorati, 1760.]

    [Footnote II-57: Ger. Meerman, Origines Typographicæ, P. 1,
    p. 241. 4to. Hagæ Comit. 1765.]

Heineken appears to have been the first who gave to this book the name
“Biblia Pauperum,” as it was in his opinion the most appropriate; “the
figures being executed for the purpose of giving a knowledge of the
Bible to those who could not afford to purchase a manuscript copy of the
Scriptures.”[II-58] This reason for the name is not, however, a good
one: for, according to his own statement, the only copy which he ever
saw with the title or inscription “Biblia Pauperum,” was a manuscript on
vellum of the fourteenth century, in which the figures were drawn and
coloured by hand.[II-59] Meerman, however, though without adopting the
title, had previously noticed the same manuscript, which in his opinion
was as old as the twelfth or thirteenth century. As the word “Pauperum”
formed part of the title of the book long before presumed cheap copies
were printed from wood-blocks for the use of the poor, it could not be
peculiarly appropriate as the title of an illumined manuscript on
vellum, which the poor could as little afford to purchase as they could
a manuscript copy of the Bible. In whatever manner the term “poor”
became connected with the book, it is clear that the name “Biblia
Pauperum” was not given to it in consequence of its being printed at a
cheap rate for circulation among poor people. It is not indeed likely
that its ancient title ever was “Biblia Pauperum;” while, on the
contrary, there seems every reason to believe that Heineken had copied
an abridged title and thus given currency to an error.

    [Footnote II-58: Idée Générale, p. 292, note.]

    [Footnote II-59: Camus, speaking of one of those manuscripts
    compared with the block-book, observes: “Ce dernier abrégé
    méritoit bien le nom de BIBLIA PAUPERUM, par comparison aux
    tableaux complets de la Bible que je viens d’indiquer. Des
    ouvrages tels que les tableaux complets ne pouvoient être que
    BIBLIA DIVITUM.”--Notice d’un Livre imprimé à Bamberg en 1462,
    p. 12, note. 4to. Paris, 1800.]

Heineken says that he observed the inscription, “Incipit Biblia
Pauperum,” in a manuscript in the library at Wolfenbuttel, written on
vellum in a Gothic character, which appeared to be of the fourteenth
century. The figures, which were badly designed, were coloured in
distemper, and the explanatory text was in Latin rhyme. It is surprising
that neither Heineken nor any other bibliographer should have suspected
that a word was wanting in the above supposed title, more especially as
the word wanting might have been so readily suggested by another work so
much resembling the pretended “Biblia Pauperum” that the one has
frequently been confounded with the other.[II-60] In the proemium of
this other work, which is no other than the “Speculum Salvationis,” the
writer expressly states that he has compiled it “propter pauperes
predicatores,”--for _poor_ preachers.

  +Predictu’ p’hemiu’ hujus libri de conte’tis compilavi,
  Et p’pter paup’es p’dicatores hoc apponere curavi;
  Qui si forte nequieru’t totum librum sibi co’p’are,
  Possu’t ex ipso p’hemio, si sciu’t p’dicare.+

  This preface of contents, stating what this book’s about,
  For the sake of all _poor preachers_ I have fairly written out;
  If the purchase of the book entire should be above their reach,
  This preface yet may serve them, if they know but how to preach.

    [Footnote II-60: “Entre ces abrégés [de la Bible] on remarque le
    ouvrages ont beaucoup d’affinité entre eux pour le volume, le
    choix des histoires, les moralités, la composition des tableaux.
    Ils existent en manuscrits dans plusieurs bibliothèques.”--Camus,
    Notice d’un Livre, &c. p. 12.]

That the other book might be called “Biblia Pauperum _Predicatorum_,” in
consequence of its general use by mendicant preachers, I can readily
believe; and no doubt the omission of the word “predicatorum” in the
inscription copied by Heineken has given rise to the popular error, that
the pretended “Biblia Pauperum” was a kind of cheap pictorial Bible,
especially intended for the use of the poor. It is, in fact, a series of
“skeleton sermons” ornamented with wood-cuts to warm the preacher’s
imagination, and stored with texts to assist his memory. In speaking of
this book in future, I shall always refer to it as the “Biblia Pauperum
Predicatorum,”--“the Poor Preachers’ Bible;” for the continuance of its
former title only tends, in my opinion, to disseminate an error.

Nyerup, who in 1784 published an “Account of such books as were read in
schools in Denmark prior to the Reformation,”[II-61] objected to the
title “Biblia Pauperum,” as he had seen portions of a manuscript copy in
which the drawings were richly coloured. The title which he preferred
was BIBLIA TYPICO-HARMONICA. In this objection, however, Camus does not
concur: “It is not from the embellishments of a single copy,” he
observes, “that we ought to judge of the current price of a book; and,
besides, we must not forget to take into consideration the other motives
which might suggest the title, ‘Bible of the Poor,’ for we have proofs
that other abridgments of greater extent were called ‘Poor men’s books.’
Such is the ‘Biblia Pauperum’ of St. Bonaventure, consisting of extracts
for the use of _preachers_, and the ‘Dictionarius Pauperum.’ Of the last
the title is explained in the book itself: ‘Incipit summula omnibus
_verbi divini seminatoribus pernecessaria_.’” It is surprising that
Camus did not perceive that the very titles which he cites militate
against the opinion of the “Biblia” being intended for the use of poor
_men_. St. Bonaventure’s work, and the Dictionary, which he refers to as
instances of “Poor men’s books,” both bear on the very face of them a
refutation of his opinion, for in the works themselves it is distinctly
stated that they were compiled, not “ad usum pauperum _hominum_;” but
“ad usum pauperum _predicatorum_, et _verbi divini seminatorum_:” not
for the use of “poor _men_,” but for “poor _preachers_ and _teachers of
the divine word_.” Camus has unwittingly supplied a club to batter his
own argument to pieces.

    [Footnote II-61: “Librorum qui ante Reformationem in scholis Daniæ
    legebantur, Notitia. Hafniæ, 1784;” referred to by Camus, Notice
    d’un Livre, &c. p. 10.]

Of the “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum,” there are, according to Heineken,
five different editions with the text in Latin. Four of them contain
each forty leaves, printed on one side only from wood-blocks by means of
friction, and which differ from each other in so trifling a degree, that
it is not unlikely that three of them are from the same set of blocks.
The other edition,--the fifth described by Heineken--contains fifty
leaves, printed in a similar manner, but apparently with the figures
designed by a different artist. Besides the above, there are two
different editions, also from wood-blocks, with the text in German: one
with the date 1470; and the other, 1471 or 1475, for the last numeral
appears as like a 1 as a 5. There are also two editions, one Latin, and
the other German, with the text printed from moveable types by Albert
Pfister, at Bamberg, about 1462.

Without pretending to decide on the priority of the first five
editions,--as I have not been able to perceive any sufficient marks from
which the order in which they were published might be ascertained,--I
shall here give a brief account of a copy of that edition which Heineken
ranks as the third. It is in the King’s Library at the British Museum,
and was formerly in the collection of Monsieur Gaignat, at whose sale it
was bought for George III.

It is a small folio of forty leaves, impressed on one side only, in
order that the blank pages might be pasted together, so that two of the
printed sides would thus form only one leaf. The order of the first
twenty pages is indicated by the letters of the alphabet, from +a+ to
+v+, and of the second twenty by the same letters, having as a
distinguishing mark a point both before and after them, thus: +. a .+ In
that which Heineken considers the first edition, the letters +n+, +o+,
+r+, +s+, of the second alphabet, making pages 33, 34, 37, and 38, want
those two distinguishing points, which, according to him, are to be
found in each of the other three Latin editions of forty pages each. Mr.
Ottley has, however, observed that Earl Spencer’s copy wants the
points,--on each side of the letters +n+, +o+, +r+, +s+, of the second
alphabet,--thus agreeing with that which Heineken calls the first
edition, while in all other respects it answers the description which
that writer gives of the presumed second. Mr. Ottley says, that Heineken
errs in asserting that the want of those points on each side of the said
letters is a distinction exclusively belonging to the first edition,
since the edition called by him the second is likewise without
them.[II-62] In fact, the variations noticed by Heineken are not only
insufficient to enable a person to judge of the priority of the
editions, but they are such as might with the greatest ease be
introduced into a block after a certain number of copies had been taken
off. Those which he considers as distinguishing marks might easily be
broken away by the burnisher or rubber, and replaced by the insertion of
other pieces, differing in a slight degree. From the trifling variations
noticed by Heineken[II-63] in the first three editions, it is not
unlikely that they were all taken from the same blocks. Each of the
triangular ornaments in which he has observed a difference, might easily
be re-inserted in the event of its being injured in taking an
impression. The tiara of Moses, in page 35, letter +. p .+ would be
peculiarly liable to accident in taking an impression by friction, and I
am disposed to think that a part of it has been broken off, and that in
repairing it a trifling alteration has been made in the ornament on its
top. Heineken, noticing the alteration, has considered it as a criterion
of two different editions, while in all probability it only marks a
trifling variety in copies taken from the same blocks.

    [Footnote II-62: Inquiry, vol. i. p. 129.]

    [Footnote II-63: Idée Générale, p. 307, 308.]

On each page are four portraits,--two at the top, and two at the
bottom,--intended for the prophets, and other holy men, whose writings
are cited in the text. The middle part of the page between each pair of
portraits consists of three compartments, each of which is occupied with
a subject from the Old or the New Testament. In the 14th page, however,
letter +o+, two of the compartments--that in the centre, and the
adjoining one to the right--are both occupied by the same subject,
Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. The greatest portion of the explanatory
text is at the top on each side of the uppermost portraits; and on each
side of those below there is a Leonine, or rhyming Latin, verse.
A similar verse underneath those portraits forms the concluding line of
each page. Texts of Scripture, and moral or explanatory sentences,
having reference to the subjects in the three compartments, also appear
on scrolls. The following cut, which is a reduced copy of the 14th page,
letter +k+, will afford a better idea of the arrangement of the
subjects, and of the explanatory texts, than any lengthened description.

The whole of this subject--both text and figures--appears intended to
inculcate the necessity of restraining appetite. The inscription to the
right, at the top, contains a reference to the 3rd chapter of Genesis,
wherein there is to be found an account of the temptation and fall of
Adam and Eve, who were induced by the Serpent to taste the forbidden
fruit. This temptation of our first parents through the medium of the
palate, was, as may be gathered from the same inscription, figurative of
the temptation of Christ after his fasting forty days in the wilderness,
when the Devil came to him and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command
that these stones be made bread.”


In the inscription to the left, reference is made to the 25th chapter of
Genesis, as containing an account of Esau, who, in consequence of his
unrestrained appetite, sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage.

In the compartments in the middle of the page, are three illustrations
of the preceding text. In the centre is seen the pattern to
imitate,--Christ resisting the temptation of the Devil; and on each side
the examples to deter,--Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit; and
hungry Esau receiving the mess of pottage from Jacob.

Underneath the two half-length figures at the top, is inscribed “David
34,” and “Ysaie xxix.”[II-64] The numerals are probably intended to
indicate the chapters in the Psalms, and in the Prophecies of Isaiah,
where the inscriptions on the adjacent scrolls are to be found. On
similar scrolls, towards the bottom of the page, are references to the
7th chapter of the 2nd book of Kings, and to the 16th chapter of Job.
The two half-length figures are most likely intended for the writers of
those sacred books. The likenesses of the prophets and holy persons,
thus introduced at the top and bottom of each page, are, as Schelhorn
has observed,[II-65] purely imaginary; for the same character is seldom
seen twice with the same face. As most of the supposed figurative
descriptions of Christ and his ministry are to be found in the Psalms,
and in the Prophecies of Isaiah, the portraits of David and the
last-named prophet are those which most frequently occur; and the
designer seems to have been determined that neither the king nor the
prophet should ever appear twice with the same likeness.

    [Footnote II-64: The passages referred to are probably the 8th,
    9th, and 10th verses of the xxxivth Psalm; and the 8th verse of
    the xxixth chapter of Isaiah.]

    [Footnote II-65: “Has autem icones ex sola sculptoris imaginatione
    et arbitrio fluxisse vel inde liquet, quod idem scriptor sacer in
    diversis foliis diversa plerumque et alia facie delineatus
    sistatur, sicuti, v. g. Esaias ac David, sæpius obvii, Protei
    instar, varias induerunt in hoc opere formas.”--Amœnitates
    Literariæ, tom. iv. p. 297.]

The rhyming verses are as follows. That to the right, underneath the
subject of Adam and Eve:

  Serpens vicit, Adam vetitam sibi sugerat escam.

The other, on the opposite side, underneath Jacob and Esau:

  Lentis ob ardorem proprium male perdit honorem.

And the third, at the bottom of the page, underneath the two portraits:

  Christum temptavit Sathanas ut eum superaret.

The following cuts are fac-similes, the size of the originals, of each
of the compartments of the page referred to, and of which a reduced copy
has been already given.

The first contains the representation of David and Isaiah, and the
characters which follow the name of the former I consider to be intended
for 34. They are the only instances in the volume of the use of Arabic,
or rather Spanish numerals. The letter +k+, at the foot, is the
“signature,” as a printer would term it, indicating the order of the
page. On each side of it are portions of scrolls containing
inscriptions, of which some of the letters are seen.

The next cut represents Satan tempting Christ by offering him stones to
be converted into bread.

In the distance are seen the high mountain, to the top of which Christ
was taken up by the Devil, and the temple from whose pinnacle Christ was
tempted to cast himself down. The figure of Christ in this compartment
is not devoid of sober dignity; nor is Satan deficient in diabolical
ugliness; but, though clawed and horned proper, he wants the usual
appendage of a tail. The deficiency is, however, in some degree
compensated by giving to his hip the likeness of a fiendish face. In two
or three other old wood engravings I have noticed a repulsive face
indicated in a similar manner on the hip of the Devil. A person well
acquainted with the superstitions of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries may perhaps be able to give a reason for this. It may be
intended to show that Satan, who is ever going about seeking whom he may
devour, can see both before and behind.



The cut on the following page (90), which forms the compartment to the
right, represents Adam and Eve, each with an apple: and the state in
which Eve appears to be, is in accordance with an opinion maintained by
several of the schoolmen of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The
tree of knowledge is without fruit, and the serpent, with a human face,
is seen twined round its stem. The form of the tree and the shape of the
leaves are almost precisely the same as those of the olive-trees in the
Apocalypse, uprooted by Antichrist. The character of the designs,
however, in the two books is almost as different as the manner of the
engraving. In the Apocalypse there is no attempt at shading, while in
the book under consideration it is introduced in every page, though
merely by courses of single lines, as may be perceived in the drapery of
Christ in the preceding cut, and in the trunk of the tree and in the
serpent in the cut subjoined. In this cut the figure of Adam cannot be
considered as a specimen of manly beauty; his face is that of a man who
is past his prime, and his attitude is very like that of one of the
splay-footed boors of Teniers. In point of personal beauty Eve appears
to be a partner worthy of her husband; and though from her action she
seems conscious that she is naked, yet her expression and figure are
extremely unlike the graceful timidity and beautiful proportions of the
Medicean Venus. The face of the serpent displays neither malignity nor
fiendish cunning; but, on the contrary, is marked with an expression not
unlike that of a Bavarian broom-girl. This manner of representing the
temptation of our first parents appears to have been conventional among
the early German Formschneiders; for I have seen several old wood-cuts
of this subject, in which the figures were almost precisely the same.
Notwithstanding the bad drawing and the coarse engraving of the
following cut, many of the same subject, executed in Germany between
1470 and 1510, are yet worse.


In the opposite cut, which forms the compartment to the left, Esau, who
is distinguished by his bow and quiver, is seen receiving a bowl of
pottage from his brother Jacob. At the far side of the apartment is seen
a “kail-pot,” suspended from a “crook,” with something like a ham and a
gammon of bacon hanging against the wall. This subject is treated in a
style which is thoroughly Dutch. Isaac’s family appear to have been
lodged in a tolerably comfortable house, with a stock of provisions near
the chimney nook; and his two sons are very like some of the figures in
the pictures of Teniers, more especially about the legs.


The following cut, a copy of that which is the lowest in the page,
represents the two prophets or inspired penmen, to whom reference is
made on the two scrolls whose ends may be perceived towards the lower
corners of each arch. The words underneath the figures are a portion of
the last rhyming verse quoted at page 87. It is from a difference in the
triangular ornament, above the pillar separating the two figures, though
not in this identical page, that Heineken chiefly decides on three of
the editions of this book; though nothing could be more easy than to
introduce another ornament of a similar kind, in the event of the
original either being damaged in printing or intentionally effaced. In
some of the earliest wood-blocks which remain undestroyed by the rough
handling of time there are evident traces of several letters having been
broken away, and of the injury being afterwards remedied by the
introduction of a new piece of wood, on which the letters wanting were


The ink with which the cuts in the “Poor Preachers’ Bible” have been
printed, is evidently a kind of distemper of the colour of bistre,
lighter than in the History of the Virgin, and darker than in the
Apocalypse. In many of the cuts certain portions of the lines appear
surcharged with ink,--sometimes giving to the whole page rather a
blotched appearance,--while other portions seem scarcely to have
received any.[II-66] This appearance is undoubtedly in consequence of
the light-bodied ink having, from its want of tenacity, accumulated on
the block where the line was thickest, or where two lines met, leaving
the thinner portions adjacent with scarce any colouring at all. The
block must, in my opinion, have been charged with such ink by means of
something like a brush, and not by means of a ball. In some parts of the
cuts--more especially where there is the greatest portion of text--small
white spaces may be perceived, as if a graver had been run through the
lines. On first noticing this appearance, I was inclined to think that
it was owing to the spreading of the hairs of the brush in inking,
whereby certain parts might have been left untouched. The same kind of
break in the lines may be observed, however, in some of the impressions
of the old wood-cuts published by Becker and Derschau,[II-67] and which
are worked off by means of a press, and with common printer’s ink. In
these it is certainly owing to minute furrows in the grain of the wood;
and I am now of opinion that the same cause has occasioned a similar
appearance in the cuts of the “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum.” Mr.
Ottley, speaking of the impressions in Earl Spencer’s copy, makes the
following remarks: “In many instances they have a sort of horizontally
striped and confused appearance, which leads me to suppose that they
were taken from engravings executed on some kind of wood of a coarse
grain.”[II-68] This correspondence between Earl Spencer’s copy and that
in the King’s Library at the British Museum tends to confirm my opinion
that there are not so many editions of the book as Heineken,--from
certain accidental variations,--has been induced to suppose.

    [Footnote II-66: Schelhorn has noticed a similar appearance in the
    old block-book entitled “Ars Memorandi:” “Videas hic nonnunquam
    literas atramento confluenti deformatas, ventremque illarum, alias
    album et vacuum, atramentaria macula repletum.” Amœnitat. Liter.
    tom. i. p. 7.]

    [Footnote II-67: This collection of wood engravings from old
    blocks was published in three parts, large folio, at Gotha in
    1808, 1810, and 1816, under the following title: “Holzschnitte
    alter Deutscher Meister in den Original-Platten gesammelt von Hans
    Albrecht Von Derschau: Als ein Beytrag zur Kunstgeschichte
    herausgegeben, und mit einer Abhandlung über die Holzschneidekunst
    und deren Schicksale begleitet von Rudolph Zacharias Becker.” The
    collector has frequently mistaken rudeness of design, and
    coarseness of execution, for proofs of antiquity.]

    [Footnote II-68: Inquiry, vol. i. p. 130.]

The manner in which the cuts are engraved, and the attempts at something
like effect in the shading and composition, induce me to think that this
book is not so old as either the Apocalypse or the History of the
Virgin. That it appeared before 1428, as has been inferred from the date
which the Rev. Mr. Horne fancied that he had seen on the ancient
binding, I cannot induce myself to believe. It is more likely to have
been executed at some time between 1440 and 1460; and I am inclined to
think that it is the production of a Dutch or Flemish, rather than a
German artist.

A work, from which the engraved “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum” is little
more than an abstract, appears to have been known in France and Germany
long before block-printing was introduced. Of such a work there were two
manuscript copies in the National Library at Paris; the one complete,
and the other--which, with a few exceptions, had been copied from the
first--imperfect. The work consisted of a brief summary of the Bible,
arranged in the following manner. One or two phrases in Latin and in
French formed, as it were, the text; and each text was followed by a
moral reflection, also in Latin and in French. Each article, which thus
consisted of two parts, was illustrated by two drawings, one of which
related to the historical fact, and the other to the moral deduced from
it. The perfect copy consisted of four hundred and twenty-two pages, on
each of which there were eight drawings, so that the number contained in
the whole volume was upwards of five thousand. In some of the single
drawings, which were about two and one-third inches wide, by three and
one-third inches high, Camus counted not less than thirty heads.[II-69]

    [Footnote II-69: Notice d’un Livre, &c. p. 11.]

In a copy of the “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum” from wood-blocks,
Heineken observed written: “S. ANSGARIUS est autor hujus libri,”--St.
Ansgarius is the author of this book. St. Ansgarius, who was a native of
France, and a monk of the celebrated Abbey of Corbey, was sent into
Lower Saxony, and other places in the north, for the purpose of
reclaiming the people from paganism. He was appointed the first bishop
of Hamburg in 831, and in 844 Bishop of Bremen, where he died in
864.[II-70] From a passage cited by Heineken from Ornhielm’s
Ecclesiastical History of Sweden and Gothland, it appears that Ansgarius
was reputed to have compiled a similar book;[II-71] and Heineken
observes that it might be from this passage that the “Biblia Pauperum
Predicatorum” was ascribed to the Bishop of Hamburg.

    [Footnote II-70: Heineken, Idée Générale, p. 319.]

    [Footnote II-71: Ornhielm’s book was printed in 4to. at Stockholm,
    1689. The passage referred to is as follows: “Quos _per numeros et
    signa_ conscripsisse cum [Ansgarium] libros Rembertus memorat
    indigitatos _pigmentorum_ vocabulo, eos continuisse, palam est,
    quasdam aut e divinarum literarum, aut pie doctorum patrum
    scriptis, pericopas et sententias.”]

In the cloisters of the cathedral at Bremen, Heineken saw two
bas-reliefs sculptured on stone, of which the figures, of a moderate
size, were precisely the same as those in two of the pages--the first
and eighth--of the German “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum.” The
inscriptions, which were in Latin, were the same as in block-book. He
thinks it very probable that the other arches of the cloisters were
formerly ornamented in the same manner with the remainder of the
subjects, but that the sculptures had been destroyed in the disturbances
which had occurred in Bremen. Though he by no means pretends that the
cuts were engraved in the time of Ansgarius, he thinks it not impossible
that the sculptures might be executed at that period according to the
bishop’s directions. This last passage is one of the most silly that
occurs in Heineken’s book.[II-72] It is just about as likely that the
cuts in the “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum” were engraved in the time of
Ansgarius, as that the bas-reliefs in the cloisters of the cathedral of
Bremen should have been sculptured under his direction.

    [Footnote II-72: “Ces conjectures sont foibles; elles ont été
    attaquées par Erasme Nyerup dans un écrit publié à Copenhague en
    1784. . . . . Nyerup donne à penser que Heinecke a reconnu
    lui-même, dans la suite, la foiblesse de ses conjectures.”--Camus,
    Notice d’un Livre, &c. p. 9.]

The book usually called the “Speculum Humanæ Salvationis,”[II-73]--the
Mirror of Human Salvation,--which is ascribed by Hadrian Junius to
Lawrence Coster, has been more frequently the subject of discussion
among bibliographers and writers who have treated of the origin of
printing, than any other work. A great proportion, however, of what has
been written on the subject consists of groundless speculation; and the
facts elicited, compared with the conjectures propounded, are as “two
grains of wheat to a bushel of chaff.” It would be a waste of time to
recite at length the various opinions that have been entertained with
respect to the date of this book, the manner in which the text was
printed, and the printer’s name. The statements and the theories put
forth by Junius and Meerman in Coster’s favour, so far as the execution
of the Speculum is concerned, are decidedly contradicted by the book
itself. Without, therefore, recapitulating arguments which are
contradicted by established facts, I shall endeavour to give a correct
account of the work, leaving those who choose to compare it, and
reconcile it if they can, with the following assertions made by Coster’s
advocates: 1. that the Speculum was first printed by him in Dutch with
wooden types; 2. that while engraving a Latin edition on blocks of wood
he discovered the art of printing with moveable letters; 3. that the
Latin edition, in which the text is partly from moveable types and
partly from wood-blocks, was printed by Coster’s heirs and successors,
their moveable types having been stolen by John Gutemberg before the
whole of the text was set up.

    [Footnote II-73: It is sometimes named “Speculum Figuratum;” and
    Junius in his account of Coster’s invention calls it “Speculum
    Nostræ Salutis.”]

The Speculum which has been the subject of so much discussion is of a
small folio size, and without date or printer’s name. There are four
editions of it known to bibliographers, all containing the same cuts;
two of those editions are in Latin, and two in Dutch. In the Latin
editions the work consists of sixty-three leaves, five of which are
occupied by an introduction or prologue, and on the other fifty-eight
are printed the cuts and explanatory text. The Dutch editions, though
containing the same number of cuts as the Latin, consist of only
sixty-two leaves each, as the preface occupies only four. In all those
editions the leaves are printed on one side only. Besides the four
editions above noticed, which have been ascribed to Coster and have
excited so much controversy, there are two or three others in which the
cuts are more coarsely engraved, and probably executed, at a later
period, in Germany. There is also a quarto edition of the Speculum,
printed in 1483, at Culemburg, by John Veldener, and ornamented with the
identical cuts of the folio editions ascribed to Coster and his heirs.

The four controverted editions of the Speculum may be considered as
holding a middle place between block-books,--which are wholly executed,
both text and cuts, by the wood-engraver,--and books printed with
moveable types: for in three of the editions the cuts are printed by
means of friction with a rubber or burnisher, in the manner of the
History of the Virgin, and other block-books, while the text, set in
moveable type, has been worked off by means of a press; and in a fourth
edition, in which the cuts are taken in the same manner as in the
former, twenty pages of the text are printed from wood-blocks by means
of friction, while the remainder are printed in the same manner as the
whole of the text in the three other editions; that is, from moveable
metal types, and by means of a press.

There are fifty-eight cuts in the Speculum, each of which is divided
into two compartments by a slender column in the middle. In all the
editions the cuts are placed as head-pieces at the top of each page,
having underneath them, in two columns, the explanatory text. Under each
compartment the title of the subject, in Latin, is engraved on the

The following reduced copy of the first cut will give an idea of their
form, as every subject has pillars at the side, and is surmounted by an
arch in the same style.


The style of engraving in those cuts is similar to those of the Poor
Preachers’ Bible. The former are, however, on the whole executed with
greater delicacy, and contain more work. The shadows and folds of the
drapery in the first forty-eight cuts are indicated by short parallel
lines, which are mostly horizontal. In the forty-ninth and subsequent
cuts, as has been noticed by Mr. Ottley, a change in the mode of
indicating the shades and the folds in the draperies is perceptible; for
the short parallel lines, instead of being horizontal as in the former,
are mostly slanting. Heineken observes, that to the forty-eighth cut
inclusive, the chapters in the printed work are conformable with the old
Latin manuscripts; and as a perceptible change in the execution
commences with the forty-ninth, it is not unlikely that the cuts were
engraved by two different persons. The two following cuts are
fac-similes of the compartments of the first, of which a reduced copy
has been previously given.


In the above cut, its title, “Casus Luciferi,”--the Fall of Lucifer,--is
engraved at the bottom; and the subject represented is Satan and the
rebellious angels driven out of heaven, as typical of man’s disobedience
and fall. The following are the first two lines of the column of text
underneath the cut in the Latin editions:

  +Inchoatur speculum humanae salvacionis
  In quo patet casus hominis et modus repactionis.+

Which may be translated into English thus:

  In the Mirror of Salvation here is represented plain
  The fall of man, and by what means he made his peace again.

The following is the right-hand compartment of the same cut. The title
of this subject, as in all the others, is engraved at the bottom; the
contracted words when written in full are, “Deus creavit hominem ad
ymaginem et similitudinem suam,”--God created man after his own image
and likeness.


The first two lines of the text in the column underneath this cut are,

  +Mulier autem in paradiso est formata
  De costis viri dormienti est parata.+

That is, in English rhyme of similar measure,

  The woman was in Paradise for man an help meet made,
  From Adam’s rib created as he asleep was laid.

The cuts in all the editions are printed in light brown or sepia colour
which has been mixed with water, and readily yields to moisture. The
impressions have evidently been taken by means of friction, as the back
of the paper immediately behind is smooth and shining from the action of
the rubber or burnisher, while on the lower part of the page at the back
of the text, which has been printed with moveable types, there is no
such appearance. In the second Latin edition, in which the explanatory
text to twenty of the cuts[II-74] has been printed from engraved
wood-blocks by means of friction, the reverse of those twenty pages
presents the same smooth appearance as the reverse of the cuts. In those
twenty pages of text from engraved wood-blocks the ink is
lighter-coloured than in the remainder of the book which is printed from
moveable types, though much darker than that of the cuts. It is,
therefore, evident that the two impressions,--the one from the block
containing the cut, and the other from the block containing the
text,--have been taken separately. In the pages printed from moveable
types, the ink, which has evidently been compounded with oil, is
full-bodied, and of a dark brown colour, approaching nearly to black. In
the other three editions, one Latin and two Dutch, in which the text is
entirely from moveable types, the ink is also full-bodied and nearly jet
black, forming a strong contrast with the faint colour of the cuts.

    [Footnote II-74: The cuts which have the text printed from
    wood-blocks are Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16,
    17, 21, 22, 26, 27, 46, and 55.--Heineken, Idée Générale, p. 444.]

The plan of the Speculum is almost the same as that of the Poor
Preachers’ Bible, and is equally as well entitled as the latter to be
called “A History typical and anti-typical of the Old and New
Testament.” Several of the subjects in the two books are treated nearly
in the same manner, though in no single instance, so far as my
observation goes, is the design precisely the same in both. In several
of the cuts of the Speculum, in the same manner as in the Poor
Preachers’ Bible, one compartment contains the supposed type or
prefiguration, and the other its fulfilment; for instance: at No. 17 the
appearance of the Lord to Moses in the burning bush is typical of the
Annunciation; at No. 23 the brazen bath in the temple of Solomon is
typical of baptism; at No. 31 the manna provided for the children of
Israel in the Desert is typical of the Lord’s Supper; at No. 45 the
Crucifixion is represented in one compartment, and in the other is
Tubal-Cain, the inventor of iron-work, and consequently of the nails
with which Christ was fixed to the cross; and at No. 53 the descent of
Christ to Hades, and the liberation of the patriarchs and fathers, is
typified by the escape of the children of Israel from Egypt.

Though most of the subjects are from the Bible or the Apocrypha, yet
there are two or three which the designer has borrowed from profane
history: such as Semiramis contemplating the hanging gardens of Babylon;
the Sibyl and Augustus; and Codrus king of Athens incurring death in
order to secure victory to his people.

The Speculum Salvationis, as printed in the editions previously noticed,
is only a portion of a larger work with the same title, and ornamented
with similar designs, which had been known long before in manuscript.
Heineken says, at page 478 of his Idée Générale, that the oldest copy he
ever saw was in the Imperial Library at Vienna; and, at page 468, he
observes that it appeared to belong to the twelfth century.

The manuscript work, when complete, consisted of forty-five chapters in
rhyming Latin, to which was prefixed an introduction containing a list
of them. Each of the first forty-two chapters contained four subjects,
the first of which was the principal, and the other three illustrative
of it. To each of these chapters were two drawings, every one of which,
as in the printed copies of the work, consisted of two compartments. The
last three chapters contained each eight subjects, and each subject was
ornamented with a design.[II-75] The whole number of separate
illustrations in the work was thus one hundred and ninety-two. The
printed folio editions contain only fifty-eight cuts, or one hundred and
sixteen separate illustrations.

    [Footnote II-75: Heineken, Idée Générale, p. 474.]

Though the Speculum from the time of the publication of Junius’s
work[II-76] had been confidently claimed for Coster, yet no writer,
either for or against him, appears to have particularly directed his
attention to the manner in which the work was executed before Fournier,
who in 1758, in a dissertation on the Origin and Progress of the Art of
Wood-engraving,[II-77] first published some particulars respecting the
work in question, which induced Meerman and Heineken to speculate on the
priority of the different editions. Mr. Ottley, however, has proved, in
a manner which carries with it the certainty of mathematical
demonstration, that the conjectures of both the latter writers
respecting the priority of the editions of the Speculum are absolutely
erroneous. To elicit the truth does not, with respect to this work, seem
to have been the object of those two writers. Both had espoused theories
on its origin without much inquiry with respect to facts, and each
presumed that edition to be the first which seemed most likely to
support his own speculations.

    [Footnote II-76: The “Batavia” or Junius, in which the name of
    Lawrence Coster first appears as a printer, was published in

    [Footnote II-77: Dissertation sur l’Origine et les Progrès de
    l’Art de Graver en Bois. Par M. Fournier le Jeune, 8vo. Paris,

Heineken, who assumed that the work was of German origin, insisted that
the _first_ edition was that in which the text is printed partly from
moveable types and partly from letters engraved on wood-blocks, and that
the Dutch editions were executed subsequently in the Low Countries. The
Latin edition with the text entirely printed from moveable types he is
pleased to denominate the second, and to assert, contrary to the
evidence which the work itself affords, that the type resembles that of
Faust and Scheffer, and that the cuts in this _second_ Latin edition, as
he erroneously calls it, are coarser and not so sharp as those in the
Latin edition which he supposes to be the first.

Fournier’s discoveries with respect to the execution of the Speculum
seem to have produced a complete change as to its origin in the opinions
of Meerman; who, in 1757, the year before Fournier’s dissertation was
printed, had expressed his belief, in a letter to his friend Wagenaar,
that what was alleged in favour of Coster being the inventor of printing
was mere gratuitous assertion; that the text of the Speculum was
probably printed after the cuts, and subsequent to 1470; that there was
not a single document, nor an iota of evidence, to show that Coster ever
used moveable types; and lastly, that the Latin was prior to the Dutch
edition of the Speculum, as was apparent from the Latin names engraved
at the foot of the cuts, which certainly would have been in Dutch had
the cuts been originally destined for a Dutch edition.[II-78] In the
teeth of his own previous opinions, having apparently gained a new light
from Fournier’s discoveries, Meerman, in his Origines Typographicæ,
printed in 1765, endeavours to prove that the Dutch edition was the
first, and that it was printed with moveable wooden types by Coster. The
Latin edition in which the text is printed partly from moveable types
and partly from wood-blocks he supposes to have been printed by Coster’s
heirs after his decease, thus endeavouring to give credibility to the
story of Coster having died of grief on account of his types being
stolen, and to encourage the supposition that his heirs in this edition
supplied the loss by having engraved on blocks of wood those pages which
were not already printed.

    [Footnote II-78: A French translation of Meerman’s letter, which
    was originally written in Dutch, is given by Santander in his
    Dictionnaire Bibliographique, tom. i. pp. 14-18, 8vo. Bruxelles,

Fournier’s discoveries relative to the manner in which the Speculum was
executed were: 1st, that the cuts and the text had been printed at
separate times, and that the former had been printed by means of
friction; 2d, that a portion of the text in one of the Latin editions
had been printed from engraved wood-blocks.[II-79] Fournier, who was a
type-founder and wood-engraver, imagined that the moveable types with
which the Speculum was printed were of wood. He also asserted that Faust
and Scheffer’s Psalter and an early edition of the Bible were printed
with moveable wooden types. Such assertions are best answered by a
simple negative, leaving the person who puts them forth to make out a
probable case.

    [Footnote II-79: Dissertation, pp. 29-32. The many mistakes which
    Fournier commits in his Dissertation, excite a suspicion that he
    was either superficially acquainted with his subject, or extremely
    careless. He published two or three other small works on the
    subject of engraving and printing,--after the manner of
    “Supplements to an Appendix,”--the principal of which is entitled
    “De l’Origine et des Productions de l’Imprimerie primitive en
    taille de bois; avec une refutation des préjugés plus ou moins
    accredités sur cet art; pour servir de suite à la Dissertation sur
    l’Origine de l’Art de graver en bois. Paris, 1759.”]

The fact having been established that in one of the editions of the
Speculum a part of the text was printed from wood-blocks, while the
whole of the text in the other three was printed from moveable types,
Heineken, without diligently comparing the editions with each other in
order to obtain further evidence, decides in favour of that edition
being the first in which part of the text is printed from wood-blocks.
His reasons for supposing this to be the first edition, though specious
in appearance, are at variance with the facts which have since been
incontrovertibly established by Mr. Ottley, whose scrutinizing
examination of the different editions has clearly shown the futility of
all former speculations respecting their priority. The argument of
Heineken is to this effect: “It is improbable that a printer who had
printed an edition wholly with moveable types should afterwards have
recourse to an engraver to cut for him on blocks of wood a portion of
the text for a second edition; and it is equally improbable that a
wood-engraver who had discovered the art of printing with moveable
types, and had used them to print the entire text of the first edition,
should, to a certain extent, abandon his invention in a second by
printing a portion of the text from engraved blocks of wood.” The
following is the order in which he arranges the different editions:

  1. The Latin edition in which part of the text is printed from

  2. The Latin edition in which the text is entirely printed from
    moveable types.

  3. The Dutch edition with the text printed wholly from moveable
    types, supposed by Meerman to be the _first edition_ of all.[II-80]

  4. The Dutch edition with the text printed wholly from moveable
    types, and which differs only from the preceding one in having
    the two pages of text under cuts No. 45 and 56 printed in a type
    different from the rest of the book.

    [Footnote II-80: Heineken seems inclined to consider this as the
    second Dutch edition; and he only mentions it as the first Dutch
    edition because it is called so by Meerman.--Idée Gén. pp. 453,

The preceding arrangement--including Meerman’s opinion respecting the
priority of the Dutch edition--rests entirely on conjecture, and is
almost diametrically contradicted in every instance by the evidence
afforded by the books themselves; for through the comparisons and
investigations of Mr. Ottley it is proved, to an absolute certainty,
that the Latin edition supposed by Heineken to be the second is the
_earliest of all_; that the edition No. 4, called the second Dutch, is
the next in order to the actual first Latin; and that the two editions,
No. 1 and No. 3, respectively proclaimed by Heineken and Meerman as the
earliest, have been printed subsequently to the other two.[II-81] Which
of the pretended _first_ editions was in reality the _last_, has not
been satisfactorily determined; though there seems reason to believe
that it was the Latin one which has part of the text printed from

    [Footnote II-81: Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of
    Engraving, pp. 205-217. Though differing from Mr. Ottley in the
    conclusions which he draws from the facts elicited by him
    respecting the priority of the editions of the Speculum, I bear a
    willing testimony to the value of his discoveries on this subject,
    which may rank among the most interesting that have resulted from
    bibliographical research.]

It is well known to every person acquainted with the practice of
wood-engraving, that portions of single lines in such cuts as those of
the Speculum are often broken out of the block in the process of
printing. If two books, therefore, containing the same wood-cuts, but
evidently printed at different times, though without a date, should be
submitted to the examination of a person acquainted with the above fact
and bearing it in mind, he would doubtless declare that the copy in
which the cuts were most perfect was first printed, and that the other
in which parts of the cuts appeared broken away was of a later date. If,
on comparing other copies of the same editions he should find the same
variations, the impression on his mind as to the priority of the
editions would amount to absolute certainty. The identity of the cuts in
all the four editions of the Speculum being unquestionable, and as
certain minute fractures in the lines of some of them, as if small
portions of the block had been broken out in printing, had been
previously noticed by Fournier and Heineken, Mr. Ottley conceived the
idea of comparing the respective cuts in the different editions, with a
view of ascertaining the order in which they were printed. He first
compared two copies of the edition called the _first Latin_ with a copy
of that called the _second Dutch_, and finding, that, in several of the
cuts of the former, parts of lines were wanting which in the latter were
perfect, he concluded that the miscalled _second Dutch_ edition was in
fact of an earlier date than the pretended _first Latin_ edition of
Heineken. In further comparing the above editions with the supposed
_second Latin_ edition of Heineken and the supposed _first Dutch_
edition of Meerman, he found that the cuts in the miscalled second Latin
edition were the most perfect of all; and that the cuts in Heineken’s
first Latin and Meerman’s first Dutch editions contained more broken
lines than the edition named by those authors the _second Dutch_. The
conclusion which he arrived at from those facts was irresistible,
namely, that the earliest edition of all was that called by Heineken the
second Latin; and that the edition called the second Dutch was the next
in order. As the cuts in the copies examined of the pretended _first_
Latin and Dutch editions contained similar fractures, it could not be
determined with certainty which was actually the _last_.

As it is undoubted that the cuts of all the editions have been printed
separately from the text, it has been objected that Mr. Ottley’s
examination has only ascertained the order in which the cuts have been
printed, but by no means decided the priority of the editions of the
entire book. All the cuts, it has been objected, might have been taken
by the engraver before the text was printed in a single edition, and it
might thus happen that the book first printed with text might contain
the last, and consequently the most imperfect cuts. This exception,
which is founded on a very improbable presumption, will be best answered
by the following facts established on a comparison of the two Latin, and
which, I believe, have not been previously noticed:--On closely
comparing those pages which are printed with moveable types in the true
second edition with the corresponding pages in that edition which is
properly the first, it was evident from the different spelling of many
of the words, and the different length of the lines, that they had been
printed at different times: but on comparing, however, those pages which
are printed in the second edition from engraved wood-blocks with the
corresponding pages, from moveable type, in the first edition, I found
the spelling and the length of the lines to be the same. The page
printed from the wood-block was, in short, a fac-simile of the
corresponding page printed from moveable types. So completely did they
correspond, that I have no doubt that an impression of the page printed
from moveable types had been “transferred,”[II-82] as engravers say, to
the block. In the last cut[II-83] of the first edition I noticed a
scroll which was quite black, as if meant to contain an inscription
which the artist had neglected to engrave; and in the second edition I
perceived that the black was cut away, thus having the part intended for
the inscription white. Another proof, in addition to those adduced by
Mr. Ottley of that Latin edition being truly the first in which the
whole of the text is printed from moveable types.

    [Footnote II-82: Wood-engravers of the present day are accustomed
    to transfer an old impression from a cut or a page of letter-press
    to a block in the following manner. They first moisten the back of
    the paper on which the cut or letter-press is printed with a
    mixture of concentrated potash and essence of lavender in equal
    quantities, which causes the ink to separate readily from the
    paper; next, when the paper is nearly dry, the cut or page is
    placed above a prepared block, and by moderate pressure the ink
    comes off from the paper, and leaves an impression upon the wood.]

    [Footnote II-83: The subject is Daniel explaining to Belshazzar
    the writing on the wall.]

Though there can no longer be a doubt in the mind of any impartial
person of that Latin edition, in which part of the text is printed from
engraved wood-blocks, and the rest from moveable types, being later than
the other; yet the establishment of this fact suggests a question, as to
the cause of part of the text of this second Latin edition being printed
from wood-blocks, which cannot perhaps be very satisfactorily answered.
All writers previous to Mr. Ottley, who had noticed that the text was
printed partly from moveable types and partly from wood-blocks, decided,
without hesitation, that this edition was the first; and each,
accordingly as he espoused the cause of Gutemberg or Coster, proceeded
to theorise on this assumed fact. As their arguments were founded in
error, it cannot be a matter of surprise that their conclusions should
be inconsistent with truth. The fact of this edition being subsequent to
that in which the text is printed wholly from moveable types has been
questioned on two grounds: 1st. The improbability that the person who
had printed the text of a former edition entirely from moveable types
should in a later edition have recourse to the more tedious operation of
engraving part of the text on wood-blocks. 2d. Supposing that the owner
of the cuts had determined in a later edition to engrave the text on
blocks of wood, it is difficult to conceive what could be his reason for
abandoning his plan, after twenty pages of the text were engraved, and
printing the remainder with moveable types.

Before attempting to answer those objections, I think it necessary to
observe that the existence of a positive fact can never be affected by
any arguments which are grounded on the difficulty of accounting for it.
Objections, however specious, can never alter the immutable character of
truth, though they may affect opinions, and excite doubts in the minds
of persons who have not an opportunity of examining and judging for

With respect to the first objection, it is to be remembered that in all
the editions, the text, whether from wood-blocks or moveable types, has
been printed separately from the cuts; consequently the cuts of the
first edition might be printed by a wood-engraver, and the text set up
and printed by another person who possessed moveable types. The engraver
of the cuts might not be possessed of any moveable types when the text
of the first edition was printed; and, as it is a well-known fact that
wood-engravers continued to execute entire pages of text for upwards of
thirty years after the establishment of printing with moveable types, it
is not unlikely that he might attempt to engrave the text of a second
edition and print the book solely for his own advantage. This
supposition is to a certain extent corroborated by the fact of the
twenty pages of engraved text in the second Latin edition being
fac-similes of the twenty corresponding pages of text from moveable
types in the first.

To the second objection every day’s experience suggests a ready answer;
for scarcely anything is more common than for a person to attempt a work
which he finds it difficult to complete, and, after making some progress
in it, to require the aid of a kindred art, and abandon his original

As the first edition of the Speculum was printed subsequent to the
discovery of the art of printing with moveable types, and as it was
probably printed in the Low Countries, where the typographic art was
first introduced about 1472, I can discover no reason for believing that
the work was executed before that period. Santander, who was so well
acquainted with the progress of typography in Belgium and Holland, is of
opinion that the Speculum is not of an earlier date than 1480. In 1483
John Veldener printed at Culemburg a quarto edition of the Speculum, in
which the cuts are the same as in the earlier folios. In order to adapt
the cuts to this smaller edition Veldener had sawn each block in two,
through the centre pillar which forms a separation between the two
compartments in each of the original engravings. Veldener’s quarto
edition, which has the text printed on both sides of the paper from
moveable types, contains twelve more cuts than the older editions, but
designed and executed in the same style.[II-84] If Lawrence Coster had
been the inventor of printing with moveable types, and if any one folio
edition of the Speculum had been executed by him, we cannot suppose that
Veldener, who was himself a wood-engraver, as well as a printer, would
have been ignorant of those facts. He, however, printed two editions of
the Fasciculus Temporum,--one at Louvain in 1476, and the other at
Utrecht in 1480,--a work which contains a short notice of the art of
printing being discovered at Mentz, but not a syllable concerning its
discovery at Harlem by Lawrence Coster. The researches of Coster’s
advocates have clearly established one important fact, though an
unfortunate one for their argument; namely, that the Custos or Warden of
St. Bavon’s was not known as a printer to one of his contemporaries. The
citizens of Harlem, however, have still something to console themselves
with: though Coster may not be the inventor of printing, there can be
little doubt of Junius, or his editor, being the discoverer of Coster,--

  “Est quoddam prodire tenus, si non datur ultra.”

    [Footnote II-84: Heineken gives an account of those twelve
    additional cuts at page 463 of his Idée Générale. It appears that
    Veldener also published in the same year another edition of the
    Speculum, also in quarto, containing the same cuts as the older
    folios, but without the twelve above mentioned.]

There is in the Print Room of the British Museum a small volume of
wood-cuts, which has not hitherto been described by any bibliographer,
nor by any writer who has treated on the origin and progress of wood
engraving. It appears to have been unknown to Heineken, Breitkopf, Von
Murr, and Meerman; and it is not mentioned, that I am aware of, either
by Dr. Dibdin or Mr. Douce, although it certainly was submitted to the
inspection of the latter. It formerly belonged to the late Sir George
Beaumont, by whom it was bequeathed to the Museum; but where he obtained
it I have not been able to learn. It consists of an alphabet of large
capital letters, formed of figures arranged in various attitudes; and
from the general character of the designs, the style of the engraving,
and the kind of paper on which the impressions have been taken, it
evidently belongs to the same period as the Poor Preachers’ Bible. There
is only one cut on each leaf, the back being left blank as in most of
the block-books, and the impressions have been taken by means of
friction. The paper at the back of each cut has a shining appearance
when held towards the light, in consequence of the rubbing which it has
received; and in some it appears as if it had been blacked with
charcoal, in the same manner that some parts of the cartoons were
blacked which have been pricked through by the tapestry worker. The ink
is merely a distemper or water-colour, which will partly wash out by the
application of hot water, and its colour is a kind of sepia. Each leaf,
which is about six inches high, by three and six-eighths wide, consists
of a separate piece of paper, and is pasted, at the inner margin, on to
a slip either of paper or parchment, through which the stitching of the
cover passes. Whether the paper has been cut in this manner before or
after that the impressions were taken, I am unable to determine.[II-85]

    [Footnote II-85: The following is a reduced copy of the
    paper-mark, which appears to be a kind of anchor with a small
    cross springing from a ball or knob at the junction of the arms
    with the shank. It bears a considerable degree of resemblance to
    the mark given at page 62, from an edition of the Apocalypse. An
    anchor is to be found as a paper-mark in editions of the
    Apocalypse, and of the Poor Preachers’ Bible. According to
    Santander, a similar paper-mark is to be found in books printed at
    Cologne, Louvain, and Utrecht, from about 1470 to 1480.

The greater part of the letter A is torn out, and in that which remains
there are pin-marks, as if it had been traced by being pricked through.
The letters S, T, and V are also wanting. The following is a brief
description of the letters which remain. The letter B is composed of
five figures, one with a pipe and tabor, another who supports him,
a dwarf, an old man kneeling, and an old woman with a staff.
C, a youthful figure rending open the jaws of a lion, with two grotesque
heads like those of satyrs. D, a man on horseback, and a monk astride on
a fiendish-looking monster. E, two grotesque heads, a figure holding the
horn of one of them, and another figure stretching out a piece of cloth.
F, a tall figure blowing a trumpet, and a youth beating a tabor, with an
animal like a dog at their feet.[II-86] G, David with Goliath’s head,
and a figure stooping, who appears to kiss a flagellum. H, a figure
opening the jaws of a dragon. I, a tall man embracing a woman.
K, a female with a wreath, a youth kneeling, an old man on his knees,
and a young man with his heels uppermost. [Engraved as a specimen at
page 109.] L, a man with a long sword, as if about to pierce a figure
reclining. [Engraved as a specimen at page 110.] M, two figures, each
mounted on a kind of monster; between them, an old man. N, a man with a
sword, another mounted on the tail of a fish. O, formed of four
grotesque heads. P, two figures with clubs. Q, formed of three grotesque
heads, similar to those in O. R, a tall, upright figure, another with
something like a club in his hand; a third, with his heels up, blowing a
horn. X, composed of four figures, one of which has two bells, and
another has one; on the shoulder of the upper figure to the right a
squirrel may be perceived. Y, a figure with something like a hairy skin
on his shoulder; another thrusting a sword through the head of an
animal. Z, three figures; an old man about to draw a dagger, a youth
lying down, and another who appears as if flying. [Engraved as a
specimen at page 111.] The last cut is the ornamental flower, of which a
copy is given at page 113.

    [Footnote II-86: The initial F, at the commencement of this
    chapter, is a reduced copy of the letter here described.]

In the same case with those interesting, and probably unique specimens
of early wood engraving, there is a letter relating to them, dated 27th
May, 1819, from Mr. Samuel Lysons to Sir George Beaumont, from which the
following is an extract: “I return herewith your curious volume of
ancient cuts. I showed it yesterday to Mr. Douce, who agrees with me
that it is a great curiosity. He thinks that the blocks were executed at
Harlem, and are some of the earliest productions of that place. He has
in his possession most of the letters executed in copper, but very
inferior to the original cuts. Before you return from the Continent I
shall probably be able to ascertain something further respecting them.”
What might be Mr. Douce’s reasons for supposing that those cuts were
executed at Harlem I cannot tell; though I am inclined to think that he
had no better foundation for his opinion than his faith in Junius,
Meerman, and other advocates of Lawrence Coster, who unhesitatingly
ascribe every early block-book to the spurious “Officina Laurentiana.”

In the manuscript catalogue in the Print Room of the British Museum the
volume is thus described by Mr. Ottley: “Alphabet of initial letters
composed of grotesque figures, wood engravings of the middle of the
fifteenth century, apparently the work of a Dutch or Flemish artist; the
impressions taken off by friction in the manner of the early
block-books. . . . I perceive the word ‘_London_’ in small characters
written upon the blade of a sword in one of the cuts, [the letter L,]
and I suspect they were engraved in England.”


As to whether these cuts were engraved in England or no I shall not
venture to give an opinion. I am, however, satisfied that they were
neither designed nor engraved by the artists who designed and engraved
the cuts in the Apocalypse, the History of the Virgin, and the Poor
Preachers’ Bible. With respect to drawing, expression, and engraving,
the cuts of the Alphabet are decidedly superior to those of every
block-book, and generally to all wood engravings executed previous to
1500, with the exception of such as are by Albert Durer, and those
contained in the Hypnerotomachia, an Italian rhapsody, with wood-cuts
supposed to have been designed by Raffaele or Andrea Mantegna, and
printed by Aldus at Venice, 1499. Although the cuts of the Alphabet may
not have been engraved in England, it is, however, certain that the
volume had been at rather an early period in the possession of an
Englishman. The cover consists of a double fold of thick parchment, on
the inside of which, between the folds, there is written in large old
English characters what I take to be the name “Edwardus Lowes.” On the
blank side of the last leaf there is a sketch of a letter commencing
“Right reverent and wershipfull masters and frynds; In the moste
loweliste maner that I canne or may, I here recomende me, duely glade to
her of yor good prosperitye and welth.” The writing, as I have been
informed, is of the period of Henry VIII; and on the slips of paper and
parchment to which the inner margins of the leaves are pasted are
portions of English manuscripts, which are probably of the same date.
There can, however, be little doubt that the leaves have been mounted,
and the volume covered, about a hundred years subsequent to the
engraving of the cuts.


I agree with Mr. Ottley in thinking that those cuts were engraved about
the middle of the fifteenth century, but I can perceive nothing in them
to induce me to suppose they were the work of a Dutch artist; and I am
as little inclined to ascribe them to a German. The style of the drawing
is not unlike what we see in illuminated French manuscripts of the
middle of the fifteenth century; and as the only two engraved words
which occur in the volume are French, I am rather inclined to suppose
that the artist who made the drawings was a native of France. The
costume of the female to whom the words are addressed appears to be
French; and the action of the lover kneeling seems almost characteristic
of that nation. No Dutchman certainly ever addressed his mistress with
such an air. He holds what appears to be a ring as gracefully as a
modern Frenchman holds a snuff-box, and upon the scroll before him are
engraved a heart, and the words which he may be supposed to utter, “_Mon
Ame_.” At page 109, is a fac-simile of the cut referred to, the letter
K, of the size of the original, and printed in the same kind of colour.


Upon the sword-blade in the original cut of the following letter, L,
there is written in small characters, as Mr. Ottley has observed, the
word “_London_;” and in the white space on the right, or upper side, of
the figure lying down, there appears written in the same hand the name
“_Bethemsted_.” In this name the letter B is not unlike a W; and I have
heard it conjectured that the name might be that of John Wethamstede,
abbot of St. Alban’s, who was a great lover of books, and who died in
1440. This conjecture, however, will not hold good, for the letter is
certainly intended for a B; and in the cut of the letter B there is
written “_R. Beths._,” which is in all probability intended for an
abbreviation of the name, “_Bethemsted_,” which occurs in another part
of the book. The ink with which these names are written is nearly of the
same colour as that of the cuts. The characters appear to be of an
earlier date than those on the reverse of the last leaf.


The cut at page 111, is that of the letter Z, which stands the wrong way
in consequence of its not having been drawn reversed upon the block. The
subject might at first sight be supposed to represent the angel staying
Abraham when about to sacrifice Isaac; but on examining the cut more
closely it will be perceived that the figure which might be mistaken for
an angel is without wings, and appears to be in the act of supplicating
the old man, who with his left hand holds him by the hair.

The opposite cut, which is the last in the book, is an ornamental flower
designed with great freedom and spirit, and surpassing everything of the
kind executed on wood in the fifteenth century. I speak not of the style
of engraving, which, though effective, is coarse; but of the taste
displayed in the drawing. The colour of the cuts on pages 109, 110, 111,
from the late Sir George Beaumont’s book, will give the reader, who has
not had an opportunity of examining the originals, some idea of the
colour in which the cuts of the Apocalypse, the History of the Virgin,
the Poor Preachers’ Bible, and the Speculum, are printed; which in all
of them is a kind of sepia, in some inclining more to a yellow, and in
others more to a brown.

In the volume under consideration we may clearly perceive that the art
of wood engraving had made considerable progress at the time the cuts
were executed. Although there are no attempts at cross-hatching, which
was introduced about 1486, yet the shadows are generally well indicated,
either by thickening the line, or by courses of short parallel lines,
marking the folds of the drapery, or giving the appearance of rotundity
to the figures. The expression of the heads displays considerable
talent, and the wood-engraver who at the present time could design and
execute such a series of figures, would be entitled to no small degree
of commendation. Comparing those cuts with such as are to be seen in
books typographically executed between 1461[II-87] and 1490, it is
surprising that the art of wood engraving should have so materially
declined when employed by printers for the illustration of their books.
The best of the cuts printed with letter-press in the period referred to
are decidedly inferior to the best of the early block-books.

    [Footnote II-87: The first book with moveable types and wood-cuts
    both printed by means of the press is the Fables printed at
    Bamberg, by Albert Pfister, “Am Sant Valentinus tag,” 1461.]

As it would occupy too much space, and would be beyond the scope of the
present treatise to enter into a detail of the contents of all the
block-books noticed by Heineken, I shall give a brief description of
that named “Ars Memorandi,” and conclude the chapter with a list of such
others as are chiefly referred to by bibliographers.

The “ARS MEMORANDI” is considered by Schelhorn[II-88] and by Dr. Dibdin
as one of the earliest block-books, and in their opinion I concur.
Heineken, however,--who states that the style is almost the same as in
the figures of the Apocalypse,--thinks that it is of later date than the
Poor Preachers’ Bible and the History of the Virgin. It is of a quarto
size, and consists of fifteen cuts, with the same number of separate
pages of text also cut on wood, and printed on one side of each leaf
only by means of friction.[II-89] At the foot of each page of text is a
letter of the alphabet, commencing with +a+, indicating the order in
which they are to follow each other. In every cut an animal is
represented,--an eagle, an angel, an ox, or a lion,--emblematic of the
Evangelist whose Gospel is to be impressed on the memory. Each of the
animals is represented standing upright, and marked with various signs
expressive of the contents of the different chapters. To the Gospel of
St. John, with which the book commences, three cuts with as many pages
of text are allotted. St. Matthew has five cuts, and five pages of text.
St. Mark three cuts and three pages of text; and St. Luke four cuts and
four pages of text.[II-90]

    [Footnote II-88: “Nostrum vero libellum, cujus gratia hæc præfati
    sumus, intrepide, si non primum artis inventæ fœtum, certe inter
    primos fuisse asseveramus.”--Amœnitates Literariæ, tom. i. p. 4.]

    [Footnote II-89: Heineken had seen two editions of this book, and
    he gives fac-similes of their titles, which are evidently from
    different blocks. The title at full length is as follows: “_Ars
    memorandi notabilis per figuras Ewangelistarum hic ex post
    descriptam quam diligens lector diligenter legat et practiset per
    signa localia ut in practica experitur_.”--“En horridum et
    incomtum dicendi genus, Priscianumque misere vapulantem!” exclaims

    [Footnote II-90: Heineken, Idée Générale, p. 394.]

“It is worthy of observation,” says J. C. Von Aretin, in his Essay on
the earliest Results of the Invention of Printing, “that this book,
which the most intelligent bibliographers consider to be one of the
earliest of its kind, should be devoted to the improvement of the
memory, which, though divested of much of its former importance by the
invention of writing, was to be rendered of still less consequence by
the introduction of printing.”[II-91]

    [Footnote II-91: Über die frühesten universal historischen Folgen
    der Erfindung der Buchdruckerkunst, von J. Christ. Freyherrn Von
    Aretin, S. 18. 4to. Munich, 1808.]

The first cut is intended to express figuratively the first six chapters
of St. John’s Gospel. The upright eagle is the emblem of the saint, and
the numerals are the references to the chapters. The contents of the
first chapter are represented by the dove perched on the eagle’s head,
and the two faces,--one of an old, the other of a young man,--probably
intended for those of Moses and Christ.[II-92] The lute on the breast of
the eagle, with something like three bells[II-93] suspended from it,
indicate the contents of the second chapter, and are supposed by
Schelhorn to refer to the marriage of Cana. The numeral 3, in
Schelhorn’s opinion, relates to “nonnihil apertum et prosectum circa
ventrem,” which he thinks may be intended as a reference to the words of
Nicodemus: “Nunquid homo senex potest in ventrem matris suæ iterum
introire et renasci?” Between the feet of the eagle is a water-bucket
surmounted by a sort of coronet or crown, intended to represent the
principal events narrated in the 4th chapter, which are Christ’s talking
with the woman of Samaria at the well, and his healing the son of a
nobleman at Capernaum. The 5th chapter is indicated by a fish above the
eagle’s right wing, which is intended to bring to mind the pool of
Bethesda. The principal event related in the 6th chapter, Christ feeding
the multitude, is indicated by the two fishes and five small loaves
above the eagle’s left wing. The cross within a circle, above the
fishes, is emblematic of the consecrated wafer in the Lord’s supper, as
celebrated by the church of Rome.[II-94]

    [Footnote II-92: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and
    truth came by Jesus Christ.”--St. John’s Gospel, chap. i. v. 17.]

    [Footnote II-93: “Forte tamen ea, quæ tintinnabulis haud videntur
    dissimilia, nummulariorum loculos et pecuniæ receptacula
    referunt.”--Schelhorn, Amœnit. Liter. tom. i. p. 10.]


The above reduced copy of the cut will afford some idea of the manner in
which the memory is to be assisted in recollecting the first six
chapters of St. John. Those who wish to know more respecting this
curious book are referred to Schelhorn’s Amœnitates Literariæ, tom. i.
pp. 1-17; Heineken, Idée Générale, pp. 394, 395; and to Dr. Dibdin’s
Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol. i. p. 4, where a copy is given of the
first cut relating to the Gospel of St. Matthew.

    [Footnote II-94: The following are the contents of the first page,
    descriptive of the cut: “Evangelium Johannis habet viginti unum
    capittula. Primum. In principio erat verbum de eternitate verbi et
    de trinitate. Secundum capittulum. Nupcie facte sunt in Chana
    Galilee et qualiter Christus subvertit mensas nummulariorum.
    Tertium capittulum. Erat antem homo ex Phariseis Nycodemus nomine.
    Quartum capittulum. Qualiter Ihesus peciit a muliere Samaritana
    bibere circum puteum Jacob et de regulo. Quintum capittulum. De
    probatica piscina ubi dixit Ihesus infirmo Tolle grabatum tuum &
    vade. Sextum capittulum. De refectione ex quinque panibus & duobus
    piscibus Et de ewkaristia.”--Schelhorn, Amœnit. Lit. tom.
    i. p. 9.]

Block-books containing both text and figures were executed long after
the introduction of typography, or printing by means of moveable types;
but the cuts in such works are decidedly inferior to those executed at
an earlier period. The book entitled “Die Kunst Cyromantia,”[II-95]
which consists chiefly of text, is printed from wood-blocks on both
sides of each leaf by means of a press. At the conclusion of the title
is the date 1448; but this is generally considered to refer to the
period when the book was written, and not the time when it was engraved.
On the last page is the name: “+jorg schapff zu augspurg+.” If this
George Schapff was a wood-engraver of Augsburg, the style of the cuts in
the book sufficiently declares that he must have been one of the very
lowest class. More wretched cuts were never chiselled out by a printer’s
apprentice as a head-piece to a half-penny ballad.

    [Footnote II-95: This work on Palmistry was composed in German by
    a Doctor Hartlieb, as is expressed at the beginning: “Das
    nachgeschriben buch von der hand hätt zu teutsch gemacht Doctor
    Hartlieb.” Specimens of the first and the last pages, and of one
    of the cuts, are given in Heineken’s Idée Générale, plates 27 and

Of the block-book entitled “Ars Moriendi,” Heineken enumerates no less
than seven editions, of which one is printed on both sides of the
leaves, and by means of a press. Besides these he mentions another
edition, impressed on one side of the paper only, in which appear the
following name and date: “+Hans eporer, 1473, hat diss puch pruffmo

    [Footnote II-96: I am of opinion that this is the same person who
    executed the cuts for a German edition of the Poor Preachers’
    Bible in 1475. His name does not appear; but on a shield of arms
    there is a spur, which may be intended as a rebus of the name; in
    the same manner as Albert Durer’s surname appears in his coat of
    arms, a pair of doors,--_Durer_, or, as his father’s name was
    sometimes spelled, _Thurer_.]

Of the book named in German “+Der Entkrist+”--Antichrist--printed from
wood-blocks, Heineken mentions two editions. In that which he considers
the first, containing thirty-nine cuts, each leaf is printed on one side
only by means of friction; in the other, which contains thirty-eight
cuts, is the “brief-maler’s” or wood-engraver’s name: “+Der jung hanss
priffmaler hat das puch zu nurenberg, 1472+.”

At Nuremberg, in the collection of a physician of the name of Treu,
Heineken noticed a small volume in quarto, consisting of thirty-two
wood-cuts of Bible subjects, underneath each of which were fifteen
verses in German, engraved on the same block. Each leaf was printed on
one side only, and the impressions, which were in pale ink, had been
taken by means of friction.

The early wood-engravers, besides books of cuts, executed others
consisting of text only, of which several portions are preserved in
public libraries in Germany,[II-97] France, and Holland; and although it
is certain that block-books continued to be engraved and printed several
years after the invention of typography, there can be little doubt that
editions of the grammatical primer called the “Donatus,” from the name
of its supposed compiler, were printed from wood-blocks previous to the
earliest essays of Gutemberg to print with moveable types. It is indeed
asserted that Gutemberg himself engraved, or caused to be engraved on
wood, a “Donatus” before his grand invention was perfected.

    [Footnote II-97: Aretin says that in the Royal Library at Munich
    there are about forty books and about a hundred single leaves
    printed from engraved wood-blocks.--Über die Folgen, &c. S. 6.]

In the Royal Library at Paris are preserved the two old blocks of a
“Donatus” which are mentioned by Heineken at page 257 of his Idée
Générale. They are both of a quarto form; but as the one contains twenty
lines and the other only sixteen, and as there is a perceptible
difference in the size of the letters, it is probable that they were
engraved for different editions.[II-98] Those blocks were purchased in
Germany by a Monsieur Faucault, and after passing through the hands of
three other book-collectors they came into the possession of the Duke de
la Vallière, at whose sale they were sold for two hundred and thirty
livres. In De Bure’s catalogue of the La Vallière library, impressions
are given from the original blocks. The letters in both those blocks,
though differing in size, are of the same proportions and form; and
Heineken and Fischer consider that they bear a great resemblance to the
characters of Faust and Scheffer’s Psalter, printed with moveable types
in 1457, although the latter are considerably larger.

    [Footnote II-98: Meerman had an old block of a Donatus, which was
    obtained from the collection of a M. Hubert of Basle, and which
    appeared to belong to the same edition as that containing sixteen
    lines in the Royal Library at Paris.--Heineken, Idée Générale,
    p. 258.]

The art of wood engraving, having advanced from a single figure with
merely a name cut underneath it, to the impression of entire pages of
text, was now to undergo a change. Moveable letters formed of metal, and
wedged together within an iron frame, were to supersede the engraved
page; and impressions, instead of being taken by the slow and tedious
process of friction, were now to be obtained by the speedy and powerful
action of the press. If the art of wood engraving suffered a temporary
decline for a few years after the general introduction of typography, it
was only to revive again under the protecting influence of the PRESS; by
means of which its productions were to be multiplied a hundred fold,
and, instead of being confined to a few towns, were to be disseminated
throughout every part of Europe.



  The Discovery of Desroches. -- The Stamping of Lodewyc Van Vaelbeke.
  -- Early “Prenters” of Antwerp and Bruges Not Typographers. --
  Cologne Chronicle. -- Donatuses Printed in Holland. -- Gutemberg’s
  Birth and Family -- Progress of his Invention -- His Law-Suit with
  the Drytzehns at Strasburg -- His Return to Mentz, and Partnership
  with Faust -- Partnership Dissolved. -- Possibility of Printing with
  Wooden Types Examined. -- Supposed Early Productions of Gutemberg
  and Faust’s Press. -- Proofs of Gutemberg Having a Press of his Own.
  -- The Vocabulary Printed at Elfeld. -- Gutemberg’s Death and
  Epitaphs. -- Invention of Printing Claimed for Lawrence Coster. --
  The Account Given by Junius -- Contradicted, Altered, and Amended at
  Will by Meerman, Koning, and Others. -- Works Pretended to be
  Printed with Coster’s Types. -- The Horarium Discovered by

Before proceeding to trace the progress of wood engraving in connexion
with typography, it appears necessary to give some account of the
invention of the latter art. In the following brief narrative of
Gutemberg’s life, I shall adhere to positive facts; and until evidence
equally good shall be produced in support of another’s claim to the
invention, I shall consider him as the father of typography. I shall
also give Hadrian Junius’s account of the invention of wood engraving,
block-printing, and typography by Lawrence Coster, with a few remarks on
its credibility. Some of the conjectures and assertions of Meerman,
Koning, and other advocates of Coster, will be briefly noticed, and
their inconsistency pointed out. To attempt to refute at length the
gratuitous assumptions of Coster’s advocates, and to enter into a detail
of all their groundless arguments, would be like proving a medal to be a
forgery by a long dissertation, when the modern fabricator has plainly
put his name in the legend. The best proof of the fallacy of Coster’s
claims to the honour of having discovered the art of printing with
moveable types is to be found in the arguments of those by whom they
have been supported.

Meerman, with all his research, has not been able to produce a single
fact to prove that Lawrence Coster, or Lawrence Janszoon as he calls
him, ever printed a single book; and it is by no means certain that his
hero is the identical Lawrence Coster mentioned by Junius. In order to
suit his own theory he has questioned the accuracy of the statements of
Junius, and has thus weakened the very foundation of Coster’s claims.
The title of the custos of St. Bavon’s to the honour of being the
inventor of typography must rest upon the authenticity of the account
given by Junius; and how far this corresponds with established facts in
the history of wood engraving and typography I leave others to decide
for themselves.

Among the many fancied discoveries of the real inventor of the art of
printing, that of Monsieur Desroches, a member of the Imperial Academy
of Sciences and Belles Lettres at Brussels, seems to require an especial
notice. In a paper printed in the transactions of that society,[III-1]
he endeavoured to prove, that the art of printing books was practised in
Flanders about the beginning of the fourteenth century; and one of the
principal grounds of his opinion was contained in an old chronicle of
Brabant, written, as is supposed, by one Nicholas le Clerk, [Clericus,]
secretary to the city of Antwerp. The chronicler, after having described
several remarkable events which happened during the government of John
II. Duke of Brabant, who died in 1312, adds the following lines:

  In dieser tyt sterf menschelyc
  Die goede vedelare Lodewyc;
  Die de beste was die voor dien
  In de werelt ye was ghesien
  Van makene ende metter hant;
  Van Vaelbeke in Brabant
  Alsoe was hy ghenant.
  Hy was d’erste die vant
  Van Stampien die manieren
  Diemen noch hoert antieren.

    [Footnote III-1: Nouvelles Recherches sur l’origine de
    l’Imprimerie, dans lesquelles on fait voir que la première idée
    est due aux Brabançons. Par M. Desroches. Lu à la séance du 8
    Janvier, 1777.--Mémoires de l’Academie Impériale des Sciences et
    Belles Lettres, tom. i. pp. 523-547. Edit 1780.]

This curious record, which Monsieur Desroches considered as so plain a
proof of “die goede vedelare Lodewyc” being the inventor of printing,
may be translated in English as follows:

  This year the way of all flesh went
  Ludwig, the fidler most excellent;
  For handy-work a man of name;
  From Vaelbeke in Brabant he came.
  He was the first who did find out
  The art of beating time, no doubt,
  (Displaying thus his meikle skill,)
  And fidlers all practise it still.[III-2]

    [Footnote III-2: The following is the French translation of
    Monsieur Desroches: “En ces temps mourut de la mort commune à tous
    les hommes, Louis _cet excellent faiseur d’instrumens de musique_,
    le meilleur artist qu’on eut vû jusques-là dans l’univers, en fait
    d’ouvrages mechaniques. Il étoit de Vaelbeke en Brabant, et il en
    porta le nom. Il fut le premier qui inventa la manière d’imprimer,
    qui est presentement en usage.” The reason of Monsieur Desroches
    for his periphrasis of the simple word “vedelare”--fidler--is as
    follows: “J’ai rendu _Vedelare_ par ‘faiseur d’instrumens de
    musique.’ Le mot radical _est vedel_, violin: par consequent,
    _Vedelare_ doit signifier celui qui en joue, ou qui en fait. Je me
    suis determiné pour le dernier à cause des vers suivans, où il
    n’est point question de jouer mais de faire. Si l’on préfère le
    premier, je ne m’y opposerai pas; rien empêche que ce habile homme
    n’ait été musicien.”--Mem. de l’Acad. de Brux. tom. i. p. 536.]

The laughable mistake of Monsieur Desroches in supposing that fidler
Ludwig’s invention, of beating time by stamping with the foot, related
to the discovery of printing by means of the press, was pointed out in
1779 by Monsieur Ghesquiere in a letter printed in the Esprit des
Journaux.[III-3] In this letter Monsieur Ghesquiere shows that the
Flemish word “Stampien,” used by the chronicler in his account of the
invention of the “good fidler Ludwig,” had not a meaning similar to that
of the word “stampus” explained by Ducange, but that it properly
signified “met de voet kleppen,”--to stamp or beat with the feet.

    [Footnote III-3: Lettre de M. J. G[hesquiere] à M. l’Abbé
    Turberville Needham, directeur de l’Academie Impériale et Royale
    de Bruxelles.--Printed in l’Esprit des Journaux for June 1779, pp.

In support of his opinion of the antiquity of printing, Monsieur
Desroches refers to a manuscript in his possession, consisting of lives
of the saints and a chronicle written in the fourteenth century. At the
end of this manuscript was a catalogue of the books belonging to the
monastery of Wiblingen, the writing of which was much abbreviated, and
which appeared to him to be of the following century. Among other
entries in the catalogue was this: “(It.) dōicali īpv̄o līb^o ſtmp̄^to
ī bappiro nō s͞crpō.” On supplying the letters wanting Monsieur
Desroches says that we shall have the following words: “Item.
Dominicalia in parvo libro stampato in bappiro [papyro,] non scripto;”
that is, “Item. Dominicals [a form of prayer or portion of church
service] in a small book printed [or stamped] on paper, not written.” In
the abbreviated word ſtm̄p̄^to, he says that the letter m could not very
well be distinguished; but the doubt which might thus arise he considers
to be completely resolved by the words “_non scripto_,” and by the
following memorandum which occurs, in the same hand-writing, at the foot
of the page: “Anno Dñi 1340 viguit q̄ fēt stāpā Dñatos,”-- “In 1340 he
flourished who caused Donatuses to be printed.” If the catalogue were
really of the period supposed by Monsieur Desroches, the preceding
extracts would certainly prove that the art of printing or stamping
books, though not from moveable types, was practised in the fourteenth
century; but, as the date has not been ascertained, its contents cannot
be admitted as evidence on the point in dispute. Monsieur Ghesquiere is
inclined to think that the catalogue was not written before 1470; and,
as the compiler was evidently an ignorant person, he thinks that in the
note, “Anno Domini 1340 viguit qui fecit stampare Donatos,” he might
have written 1340 instead of 1440.

Although it has been asserted that the wood-cut of St. Christopher with
the date 1423, and the wood-cut of the Annunciation--probably of the
same period--were printed by means of a press, yet I consider it
exceedingly doubtful if the press were employed to take impressions from
wood-blocks before Gutemberg used it in his earliest recorded attempts
to print with moveable types. I believe that in every one of the early
block-books, where opportunity has been afforded of examining the back
of each cut, unquestionable evidence has been discovered of their having
been _printed_, if I may here use the term, by means of friction.
Although there is no mention of a _press_ which might be used to take
impressions before the process between Gutemberg and the heirs of one of
his partners, in 1439, yet “Prenters” were certainly known in Antwerp
before his invention of printing with moveable types was brought to
perfection. Desroches in his Essay on the Invention of Printing gives an
extract from an order of the magistracy of Antwerp, in the year 1442, in
favour of the fellowship or guild of St. Luke, called also the Company
of Painters, which consisted of Painters, Statuaries, Stone-cutters,
Glass-makers, Illuminators, and “_Prenters_”. This fellowship was
doubtless similar to that of Venice, in whose favour a decree was made
by the magistracy of that city in 1441, and of which some account has
been given, at page 43, in the preceding chapter. There is evidence of a
similar fellowship existing at Bruges in 1454; and John Mentelin, who
afterwards established himself at Strasburg as a typographer or printer
proper, was admitted a member of the Painters’ Company of that city as a
“Chrysographus” or illuminator in 1447.[III-4]

    [Footnote III-4: Lichtenberger, Initia Typographica, § De
    Prenteris ante inventam Typographiam, p. 140.--Lambinet,
    Recherches sur l’Origine de l’Imprimerie, p. 115.]

Whether the “Prenters” of Antwerp in 1442 were acquainted with the use
of the press, or not, is uncertain; but there can be little doubt of
their not being _Printers_, as the word is now generally understood;
that is, persons who printed books with moveable types. They were most
likely block-printers, and such as engraved and printed cards and images
of saints; and it would seem that typographers were not admitted members
of the society; for of all the early typographers of Antwerp the name of
one only, Mathias Van der Goes, appears in the books of the fellowship
of St. Luke; and he perhaps may have been admitted as a wood-engraver,
on account of the cuts in an herbal printed with his types, without
date, but probably between 1485 and 1490.

Ghesquiere, who successfully refuted the opinion of Desroches that
typography was known at Antwerp in 1442, was himself induced to suppose
that it was practised at Bruges in 1445, and that printed books were
then neither very scarce nor very dear in that city.[III-5] In an old
manuscript journal or memorandum book of Jean-le-Robèrt, abbot of St.
Aubert in the diocese of Cambray, he observed an entry stating that the
said abbot had purchased at Bruges, in January 1446, a “_Doctrinale
gette en mole_” for the use of his nephew. The words “gette en mole” he
conceives to mean, “printed in type;” and he thinks that the Doctrinale
mentioned was the work which was subsequently printed at Geneva, in
1478, under the title of Le Doctrinal de Sapience, and at Westminster by
Caxton, in 1489, under the title of The Doctrinal of Sapyence. The Abbé
Mercier de St. Leger, who wrote a reply to the observations of
Ghesquiere, with greater probability supposes that the book was printed
from engraved wood-blocks, and that it was the “Doctrinale Alexandri
Galli,” a short grammatical treatise in monkish rhyme, which at that
period was almost as popular as the “Donatus,” and of which odd leaves,
printed on both sides, are still to be seen in libraries which are rich
in early specimens of printing.

    [Footnote III-5: Reflexions sur deux pièces relatives à l’Hist. de
    l’Imprimerie. Nivelles, 1780.--Lambinet, Recherches, p. 394.]

Although there is every reason to believe that the early Printers of
Antwerp and Bruges were not acquainted with the use of moveable types,
yet the mention of such persons at so early a period, and the notice of
the makers “of cards and printed figures” at Venice in 1441,
sufficiently declare that, though wood engraving might be first
established as a profession in Suabia, it was known, and practised to a
considerable extent, in other countries previous to 1450.

The Cologne Chronicle, which was printed in 1499, has been most unfairly
quoted by the advocates of Coster in support of their assertions; and
the passage which appeared most to favour their argument they have
ascribed to Ulric Zell, the first person who established a press at
Cologne. A shrewd German,[III-6] however, has most clearly shown, from
the same chronicle, that the actual testimony of Ulric Zell is directly
in opposition to the claims advanced by the advocates of Coster. The
passage on which they rely is to the following effect: “Item: although
the art [of printing] as it is now commonly practised, was discovered at
Mentz, yet the first conception of it was discovered in Holland from the
Donatuses, which before that time were printed there.” This we are given
to understand by Meerman and Koning is the statement of Ulric Zell.
A little further on, however, the Chronicler, who in the above passage
appears to have been speaking in his own person from popular report,
thus proceeds: “But the first inventor of printing was a citizen of
Mentz, though born at Strasburg,[III-7] named John Gutemberg: Item: from
Mentz the above-named art first came to Cologne, afterwards to
Strasburg, and then to Venice. This account of the commencement and
progress of the said art was communicated to me by word of mouth by that
worthy person Master Ulric Zell of Hanau, at the present time [1499]
a printer in Cologne, through whom the said art was brought to Cologne.”
At this point the advocates of Coster stop, as the very next sentence
deprives them of any advantage which they might hope to gain from the
“impartial testimony of the Cologne Chronicle,” the compiler of which
proceeds as follows: “Item: there are certain _fanciful people_ who say
that books were printed before; but _this is not true_; for in no
country are books to be found printed before that time.”[III-8]

    [Footnote III-6: Friedrich Lehne, Einige Bemerkungen über das
    Unternehmen der gelehrten Gesellschaft zu Harlem, ihrer Stadt die
    Ehre der Erfindung der Buchdruckerkunst zu ertrotzen, S. 24-26.
    Zweite Ausgabe, Mainz. 1825.]

    [Footnote III-7: This is a mistake into which the compiler of the
    chronicle printed at Rome, 1474, by Philippus de Lignamine, has
    also fallen. Gutemberg was not a native of Strasburg, but of

    [Footnote III-8: Mallinkrot appears to have been the first who
    gave a translation of the entire passage in the Cologne Chronicle
    which relates to the invention of printing. His version of the
    last sentence is as follows: “Reperiuntur Scioli aliquot qui
    dicant, dudum ante hæc tempora typorum ope libros excusos esse,
    qui tamen et se et alios decipiunt; nullibi enim terrarum libri eo
    tempore impressi reperiuntur.”--De Ortu et Progressu Artis
    Typographicæ, p. 38. Colon. Agrippinæ, 1640.]

That “Donatuses” and other small elementary books for the use of schools
were printed from wood-blocks previous to the invention of typography
there can be little doubt; and it is by no means unlikely that they
might be first printed in Holland or in Flanders. At any rate an opinion
seems to have been prevalent at an early period that the idea of
printing with moveable types was first derived from a “Donatus,”[III-9]
printed from wood-blocks. In the petition of Conrad Sweinheim and Arnold
Pannartz, two Germans, who first established a press at Rome, addressed
to Pope Sixtus IV. in 1472, stating the expense which they had incurred
in printing books, and praying for assistance, they mention amongst
other works printed by them, “DONATI pro puerulis, unde IMPRIMENDI
INITIUM sumpsimus;” that is: “Donatuses for boys, whence we have taken
the beginning of printing.” If this passage is to be understood as
referring to the origin of typography, and not to the first proofs of
their own press, it is the earliest and the best evidence on the point
which has been adduced; for it is very likely that both these printers
had acquired a knowledge of their art at Mentz in the very office where
it was first brought to perfection.

    [Footnote III-9: Angelus Rocca mentions having seen a “Donatus” on
    parchment, at the commencement of which was written in the hand of
    Mariangelus Accursius, who flourished about 1530: “Impressus est
    autem hic _Donatus_ et _Confessionalia_ primùm omnium anno MCCCCL.
    Admonitus certè fuit ex _Donato_ Hollandiæ, prius impresso in
    tabula incisa.”--Bibliotheca Vaticana commentario illustrata,
    1591, cited by Prosper Marchand in his Hist. de l’Imprimerie, 2nde
    Partie, p. 35. It is likely that Accursius derived his information
    about a Donatus being printed in Holland from the Cologne

About the year 1400, Henne, or John Gænsfleisch de Sulgeloch, called
also John Gutemberg zum Jungen, appears to have been born at Mentz. He
had two brothers; Conrad who died in 1424, and Friele who was living in
1459. He had also two sisters, Bertha and Hebele, who were both nuns of
St. Claire at Mentz. Gutemberg had an uncle by his father’s side, named
Friele, who had three sons, named John, Friele, and Pederman, who were
all living in 1459.

Gutemberg was descended of an honourable family, and he himself is said
to have been by birth a knight.[III-10] It would appear that the family
had been possessed of considerable property. They had one house in Mentz
called zum Gænsfleisch, and another called zum Gudenberg, or Gutenberg,
which Wimpheling translates, “Domum boni montis.” The local name of
Sulgeloch, or Sorgenloch, was derived from the name of a village where
the family of Gænsfleisch had resided previous to their removing to
Mentz. It seems probable that the house zum Jungen at Mentz came into
the Gutembergs’ possession by inheritance. It was in this house,
according to the account of Trithemius, that the printing business was
carried on during his partnership with Faust.[III-11]

    [Footnote III-10: Schwartz observes that in the instrument drawn
    up by the notary Ulric Helmasperger, Gutemberg is styled
    “_Juncker_,” an honourable addition which was at that period
    expressive of nobility.--Primaria quædam Documenta de Origine
    Typographiæ, p. 20, 4to. Altorfii, 1740.]

    [Footnote III-11: “Morabatur autem prædictus Joannes Gutenberg
    Moguntiæ in domo _zum Jungen_, quæ domus usque in præsentem diem
    [1513] illius novæ Artis nomine noscitur insignita.”--Trithemii
    Chronicum Spanhemiense, ad annum 1450.]

When Gutemberg called himself der Junge, or junior, it was doubtless to
distinguish himself from Gænsfleisch _der Elter_, or senior, a name
which frequently occurs in the documents printed by Koehler. Meerman has
fixed upon the latter name for the purpose of giving to Gutemberg a
brother of the same christian name, and of making him the thief who
stole Coster’s types. He also avails himself of an error committed by
Wimpheling and others, who had supposed John Gutemberg and John
Gænsfleisch to be two different persons. In two deeds of sale, however,
of the date 1441 and 1442, entered in the Salic book of the church of
St. Thomas at Strasburg, he is thus expressly named: “_Joannes dictus
Gensfleisch alias nuncupatus Gutenberg de Moguncia, Argentinæ
commorans_;” that is, “John Gænsfleisch, otherwise named Gutemberg, of
Mentz, residing at Strasburg.”[III-12] Anthony à Wood, in his History of
the University of Oxford, calls him Tossanus; and Chevillier, in his
Origine de l’Imprimerie de Paris, Toussaints. Seiz[III-13] is within an
ace of making him a knight of the Golden Fleece. That he was a man of
property is proved by various documents; and those writers who have
described him as a person of mean origin, or as so poor as to be obliged
to labour as a common workman, are certainly wrong.

    [Footnote III-12: In the release which he grants to the town-clerk
    of Mentz, in 1434, he describes himself as, “Johann Gensefleisch
    der Junge, genant Gutemberg.”]

    [Footnote III-13: In “Het derde Jubeljaer der uitgevondene
    Boekdrukkonst door Laurens Jansz Koster,” p. 71. Harlem,
    1740.--Oberlin, Essai d’Annales.]

From a letter written by Gutemberg in 1424 to his sister Bertha it
appears that he was then residing at Strasburg; and it is also certain
that in 1430 he was not living at Mentz; for in an act of accommodation
between the nobility and burghers of that city, passed in that year with
the authority of the archbishop Conrad III., Gutemberg is mentioned
among the nobles “_die ytzund nit inlendig sint_”--“who are not at
present in the country.” In 1434 there is positive evidence of his
residing at Strasburg; for in that year he caused the town-clerk of
Mentz to be arrested for a sum of three hundred florins due to him from
the latter city, and he agreed to his release at the instance of the
magistrates of Strasburg within whose jurisdiction the arrest took
place.[III-14] In 1436 he entered into partnership with Andrew Drytzehn
and others; and there is every reason to believe that at this period he
was engaged in making experiments on the practicability of printing with
moveable types, and that the chief object of his engaging with those
persons was to obtain funds to enable him to perfect his invention.

    [Footnote III-14: The release is given in Schœpflin’s Vindiciæ
    Typographicæ, Documentum I.]

From 1436 to 1444 the name of Gutemberg appears among the
“_Constaflers_” or civic nobility of Strasburg. In 1437 he was summoned
before the ecclesiastical judge of that city at the suit of Anne of
Iron-Door,[III-15] for breach of promise of marriage. It would seem that
he afterwards fulfilled his promise, for in a tax-book of the city of
Strasburg, Anne Gutemberg is mentioned, after Gutemberg had returned to
Mentz, as paying the toll levied on wine.

    [Footnote III-15: “_Ennelin zu der Iserin Thure._” She was then
    living at Strasburg, and was of an honourable family, originally
    of Alsace.--Schœpflin. Vind. Typ. p. 17.]

Andrew Drytzehn, one of Gutemberg’s partners, having died in 1438, his
brothers George and Nicholas instituted a process against Gutemberg to
compel him either to refund the money advanced by their brother, or to
admit them to take his place in the partnership. From the depositions of
the witnesses in this cause, which, together with the decision of the
judges, are given at length by Schœpflin, there can be little doubt that
one of the inventions which Gutemberg agreed to communicate to his
partners was an improvement in the art of printing, such as it was at
that period.

The following particulars concerning the partnership of Gutemberg with
Andrew Drytzehn and others are derived from the recital of the case
contained in the decision of the judges. Some years before his death,
Andrew Drytzehn expressed a desire to learn one of Gutemberg’s arts, for
he appears to have been fond of trying new experiments, and the latter
acceding to his request taught him a method of polishing stones, by
which he gained considerable profit. Some time afterwards, Gutemberg, in
company with a person named John Riff, began to exercise a certain art
whose productions were in demand at the fair of Aix-la-Chapelle. Andrew
Drytzehn, hearing of this, begged that the new art might be explained to
him, promising at the same time to give whatever premium should be
required. Anthony Heilman also made a similar request for his brother
Andrew Heilman.[III-16] To both these applications Gutemberg assented,
agreeing to teach them the art; it being stipulated that the two new
partners were to receive a fourth part of the profits between them; that
Riff was to have another fourth; and that the remaining half should be
received by the inventor. It was also agreed that Gutemberg should
receive from each of the new partners the sum of eighty florins of gold
payable by a certain day, as a premium for communicating to them his
art. The great fair of Aix-la-Chapelle being deferred to another year,
Gutemberg’s two new partners requested that he would communicate to them
without reserve all his wonderful and rare inventions; to which he
assented on condition that to the former sum of one hundred and sixty
florins they should jointly advance two hundred and fifty more, of which
one hundred were to be paid immediately, and the then remaining
seventy-five florins due by each were to be paid at three instalments.
Of the hundred florins stipulated to be paid in ready money, Andrew
Heilman paid fifty, according to his engagement, while Andrew Drytzehn
only paid forty, leaving ten due. The term of the partnership for
carrying on the “wonderful art” was fixed at five years; and it was also
agreed that if any of the partners should die within that period, his
interest in the utensils and stock should become vested in the surviving
partners, who at the completion of the term were to pay to the heirs of
the deceased the sum of one hundred florins. Andrew Drytzehn having died
within the period, and when there remained a sum of eighty-five florins
unpaid by him, Gutemberg met the claim of his brothers by referring to
the articles of partnership, and insisted that from the sum of one
hundred florins which the surviving partners were bound to pay, the
eighty-five remaining unpaid by the deceased should be deducted. The
balance of fifteen florins thus remaining due from the partnership he
expressed his willingness to pay, although according to the terms of the
agreement it was not payable until the five years were expired, and
would thus not be strictly due for some years to come. The claim of
George Drytzehn to be admitted a partner, as the heir of his brother, he
opposed, on the ground of his being unacquainted with the obligations of
the partnership; and he also denied that Andrew Drytzehn had ever become
security for the payment of any sum for lead or other things purchased
on account of the business, except to Fridelin von Seckingen, and that
this sum (which was owing for lead) Gutemberg himself paid. The judges
having heard the allegations of both parties, and having examined the
agreement between Gutemberg and Andrew Drytzehn, decided that the
eighty-five florins which remained unpaid by the latter should be
deducted from the hundred which were to be repaid in the event of any
one of the partners dying; and that Gutemberg should pay the balance of
fifteen florins to George and Nicholas Drytzehn, and that when this sum
should be paid they should have no further claim on the

    [Footnote III-16: When Andrew Heilman was proposed as a partner,
    Gutemberg observed that his friends would perhaps treat the
    business into which he was about to embark as mere jugglery
    [göckel werck], and object to his having anything to do with
    it.--Schœpflin, Vind. Typ. Document. p. 10.]

    [Footnote III-17: This decision is dated “On the Eve of St. Lucia
    and St. Otilia, [12th December,] 1439.”]

From the depositions of some of the witnesses in this process, there can
scarcely be a doubt that the “wonderful art” which Gutemberg was
attempting to perfect was typography or printing with moveable types.
Fournier[III-18] thinks that Gutemberg’s attempts at printing, as may be
gathered from the evidence in this cause, were confined to printing from
wood-blocks; but such expressions of the witnesses as appear to relate
to printing do not favour this opinion. As Gutemberg lived near the
monastery of St. Arbogast, which was without the walls of the city, it
appears that the attempts to perfect his invention were carried on in
the house of his partner Andrew Drytzehn. Upon the death of the latter,
Gutemberg appears to have been particularly anxious that “four _pieces_”
which were in a “press” should be “distributed,”--making use of the very
word which is yet used in Germany to express the distribution or
separation of a form of types---so that no person should know what they

    [Footnote III-18: Traité de l’origine et des productions de
    l’Imprimerie primitive en taille de bois, Paris, 1758; et
    Remarques sur un Ouvrage, &c. pour servir de suite au Traité,
    Paris, 1762.]

Hans Schultheis, a dealer in wood, and Ann his wife, depose to the
following effect: After the death of Andrew Drytzehn, Gutemberg’s
servant, Lawrence Beildeck, came to their house, and thus addressed
their relation Nicholas Drytzehn: “Your deceased brother Andrew had four
“pieces” placed under a press, and John Gutemberg requests that you will
take them out and lay them separately [or apart from each other] upon
the press so that no one may see what it is.”[III-19]

    [Footnote III-19: “Andres Dritzehn uwer bruder selige hat iiij
    stücke undenan inn einer _pressen_ ligen, da hat uch Hanns
    Gutemberg gebetten das ir die darusz nement ünd uff die presse
    legent von einander so kan man nit gesehen was das
    ist.”--Schœpflin, Vind. Typ. Document. p. 6.]

Conrad Saspach states that one day Andrew Heilman, a partner of
Gutemberg’s, came to him in the Merchants’ Walk and said to him,
“Conrad, as Andrew Drytzehn is dead, and _as you made the press_ and
know all about it, go and take the _pieces_[III-20] out of the press and
separate [zerlege] them so that no person may know what they are.” This
witness intended to do as he was requested, but on making inquiry the
day after St. Stephen’s Day[III-21] he found that the work was removed.

    [Footnote III-20: “Nym die stücke usz der _pressen_ und _zerlege_
    sü von einander so weis nyemand was es ist:” literally: “Take the
    pieces out of the press and distribute [or separate] them, so that
    no man may know what it is.”--Schœpflin, Vind. Typ. Document.
    p. 6. “The word _zerlegen_,” says Lichtenberger, Initia Typograph.
    p. 11, “is used at the present day by printers to denote the
    distribution of the types which the compositor has set up.” The
    original word “stücke”--pieces--is always translated
    “paginæ”--pages--by Schelhorn. Dr. Dibdin calls them “_forms_ kept
    together by _two screws_ or press-_spindles_.”--Life of Caxton, in
    his edition of Ames’s and Herbert’s Typ. Antiq. p. lxxxvii. note.]

    [Footnote III-21: St. Stephen’s Day is on 26th December. Andrew
    Drytzehn, being very ill, confessed himself to Peter Eckhart on
    Christmas-day, 1438, and it would seem that he died on the 27th.]

Lawrence Beildeck, Gutemberg’s servant, deposes that after Andrew
Drytzehn’s death he was sent by his master to Nicholas Drytzehn to tell
him not to show the press which he had in his house to any person.
Beildeck also adds that he was desired by Gutemberg to go to the
presses, and to open [or undo] the press which was fastened with two
screws, so that the “pieces” [which were in it] should fall asunder. The
said “pieces” he was then to place in or upon the press, so that no
person might see or understand them.

Anthony Heilman, the brother of one of Gutemberg’s partners, states that
he knew of Gutemberg having sent his servant shortly before Christmas
both to Andrew Heilman and Andrew Drytzehn to bring away all the “forms”
[formen] that they might be separated in his presence, as he found
several things in them of which he disapproved.[III-22] The same witness
also states that he was well aware of many people being wishful to see
the press, and that Gutemberg had desired that they should send some
person to prevent its being seen.

    [Footnote III-22: “Dirre gezuge hat ouch geseit das er wol wisse
    das Gutenberg unlange vor Wihnahten sinen kneht sante zu den beden
    Andresen, alle _formen_ zu holen, und würdent zur lossen das er
    ess sehe, un jn joch ettliche formen ruwete.”--Schœpflin, Vind.
    Typ. Document. p. 12. The separate letters, which are now called
    “types,” were frequently called “formæ” by the early printers and
    writers of the fifteenth century. They are thus named by Joh. and
    Vindelin de Spire in 1469; by Franciscus Philelphus in 1470; by
    Ludovicus Carbo in 1471; and by Phil. de Lignamine in
    1474.--Lichtenberger, Init. Typ. p. 11.]

Hans Dünne, a goldsmith, deposed that about three years before, he had
done work for Gutemberg on account of printing alone to the amount of a
hundred florins.[III-23]

    [Footnote III-23: “Hanns Dünne der goltsmyt hat gesait, das er vor
    dryen jaren oder daby Gutemberg by den hundert guldin verdienet
    habe, alleine das zu dem _trucken_ gehöret”--Schœpflin, Vind. Typ.
    Document. p. 13.]

As Gutemberg evidently had kept his art as secret as possible, it is not
surprising that the notice of it by the preceding witnesses should not
be more explicit. Though it may be a matter of doubt whether his
invention was merely an improvement on block-printing, or an attempt to
print with moveable types, yet, bearing in mind that express mention is
made of a _press_ and of _printing_, and taking into consideration his
subsequent partnership with Faust, it is morally certain that
Gutemberg’s attention had been occupied with some new discovery relative
to printing at least three years previous to December 1439.

If Gutemberg’s attempts when in partnership with Andrew Drytzehn and
others did not extend beyond block-printing, and if the four “pieces”
which were in the press are assumed to have been four engraved blocks,
it is evident that the mere unscrewing them from the “_chase_” or frame
in which they might be enclosed, would not in the least prevent persons
from knowing what they were; and it is difficult to conceive how the
undoing of the two screws would cause “the pieces” to fall asunder. If,
however, we suppose the four “pieces” to have been so many pages of
moveable types screwed together in a frame, it is easy to conceive the
effect of undoing the two screws which held it together. On this
hypothesis, Gutemberg’s instructions to his servant, and Anthony
Heilman’s request to Conrad Saspach, the maker of the press, that he
would take out the “pieces” and distribute them, are at once
intelligible. If Gutemberg’s attempts were confined to block-printing,
he could certainly have no claim to the discovery of a new art, unless
indeed we are to suppose that his invention consisted in the
introduction of the press for the purpose of taking impressions; but it
is apparent that his anxiety was not so much to prevent people seeing
the press as to keep them ignorant of the purpose for which it was
employed, and to conceal what was in it.

The evidence of Hans Dünne the goldsmith, though very brief, is in
favour of the opinion that Gutemberg’s essays in printing were made with
moveable types of metal; and it also is corroborated by the fact of
_lead_ being one of the articles purchased on account of the
partnership. It is certain that goldsmiths were accustomed to engrave
letters and figures upon silver and other metals long before the art of
copper-plate printing was introduced; and Fournier not attending to the
distinction between simple engraving on metal and engraving on a plate
for the purpose of taking impressions on paper, has made a futile
objection to the argument of Bär,[III-24] who very naturally supposes
that the hundred florins which Hans Dünne received from Gutemberg for
work done on account of printing alone, might be on account of his
having cut the types, the formation of which by means of punches and
matrices was a subsequent improvement of Peter Scheffer. It is indeed
difficult to conceive in what manner a goldsmith could earn a hundred
florins for work done on account of printing, except in his capacity as
an engraver; and as I can see no reason to suppose that Hans Dünne was
an engraver on wood, I am inclined to think that he was employed by
Gutemberg to cut the letters on separate pieces of metal.

    [Footnote III-24: The words of Bär, who was almoner of the Swedish
    chapel at Paris in 1761, are these: “Tout le monde sait que dans
    ce temps les orfèvres exerçoient aussi l’art de la gravûre; et
    nous concluons de-là que Guttemberg a commencé par des caractères
    de bois, que de-là il a passé aux caractères de plomb.” On this
    passage Fournier makes the following observations: “Tout le monde
    sait au contraire que dans ce temps il n’y avoit pas un seul
    graveur dans le genre dont vous parlez, et cela par une raison
    bien simple: c’est que cet art de la gravûre n’a été inventé que
    vingt-trois ans après ce que vous citez, c’est-à-dire en 1460, par
    _Masso Piniguera_.”--Remarques, &c. p. 20. Bär mentioned no
    particular kind of engraving; and the name of the Italian
    goldsmith who is supposed to have been the first who discovered
    the art of taking impressions from a plate on paper, was
    Finiguerra, not Piniguera, as Fournier, with his usual inaccuracy,
    spells it.]

There is no evidence to show that Gutemberg succeeded in printing any
books at Strasburg with moveable types: and the most likely conclusion
seems to be that he did not. As the process between him and the
Drytzehns must have given a certain degree of publicity to his
invention, it might be expected that some notice would have been taken
of its first-fruits had he succeeded in making it available in
Strasburg. On the contrary, all the early writers in the least entitled
to credit, who have spoken of the invention of printing with moveable
types, agree in ascribing the honour to Mentz, after Gutemberg had
returned to that city and entered into partnership with Faust. Two
writers, however, whose learning and research are entitled to the
highest respect, are of a different opinion. “It has been doubted,” says
Professor Oberlin, “that Gutemberg ever printed books at Strasburg. It
is, nevertheless, probable that he did; for he had a press there in
1439, and continued to reside in that city for five years afterwards. He
might print several of those small tracts without date, in which the
inequality of the letters and rudeness of the workmanship indicate the
infancy of the art. Schœpflin thinks that he can identify some of them;
and the passages cited by him clearly show that printing had been
carried on there.”[III-25] It is, however, to be remarked that the
passages cited by Schœpflin, and referred to by Oberlin, by no means
show that the art of printing had been practised at Strasburg by
Gutemberg; nor do they clearly prove that it had been continuously
carried on there by his partners or others to the time of Mentelin, who
probably established himself there as a printer in 1466.

    [Footnote III-25: Essai d’Annales de la Vie de Jean Gutenberg, par
    Jer. J. Oberlin. 8vo. Strasbourg, An ix. [1802.]]

It has been stated that Gutemberg’s first essays in typography were made
with wooden types; and Daniel Specklin, an architect of Strasburg, who
died in 1589, professed to have seen some of them. According to his
account there was a hole pierced in each letter, and they were arranged
in lines by a string being passed through them. The lines thus formed
like a string of beads were afterwards collected into pages, and
submitted to the press. Particles and syllables of frequent occurrence
were not formed of separate letters, but were cut on single pieces of
wood. We are left to conjecture the size of those letters; but if they
were sufficiently large to allow of a hole being bored through them, and
to afterwards sustain the action of the press, they could not well be
less than the missal types with which Faust and Scheffer’s Psalter is
printed. It is however likely that Specklin had been mistaken; and that
he had supposed some old initial letters, large enough to admit of a
hole being bored through them without injury, to have been such as were
generally used in the infancy of the art.

In 1441 and 1442, Gutemberg, who appears to have been always in want of
money, executed deeds of sale to the dean and chapter of the collegiate
church of St. Thomas at Strasburg, whereby he assigned to them certain
rents and profits in Mentz which he inherited from his uncle John
Leheymer, who had been a judge in that city. In 1443 and 1444
Gutemberg’s name still appears in the rate or tax book of Strasburg; but
after the latter year it is no longer to be found. About 1445, it is
probable that he returned to Mentz, his native city, having apparently
been unsuccessful in his speculations at Strasburg. From this period to
1450 it is likely that he continued to employ himself in attempts to
perfect his invention of typography. In 1450 he entered into partnership
with John Faust, a goldsmith and native of Mentz, and it is from this
year that Trithemius dates the invention. In his Annales Hirsaugienses,
under the year 1450, he gives the following account of the first
establishment and early progress of the art. “About this time [1450], in
the city of Mentz upon the Rhine, in Germany, and not in Italy as some
have falsely stated, this wonderful and hitherto unheard of art of
printing was conceived and invented by John Gutemberg, a citizen of
Mentz. He had expended nearly all his substance on the invention; and
being greatly pressed for want of means, was about to abandon it in
despair, when, through the advice and with the money furnished by John
Faust, also a citizen of Mentz, he completed his undertaking. At first
they printed the vocabulary called the _Catholicon_, from letters cut on
blocks of wood. These letters however could not be used to print
anything else, as they were not separately moveable, but were cut on the
blocks as above stated. To this invention succeeded others more subtle,
and they afterwards invented a method of casting the shapes, named by
them _matrices_, of all the letters of the Roman alphabet, from which
they again cast letters of copper or tin, sufficient to bear any
pressure to which they might be subjected, and which they had formerly
cut by hand. As I have heard, nearly thirty years ago, from Peter
Scheffer, of Gernsheim, citizen of Mentz, who was son-in-law of the
first inventor, great difficulties attended the first establishment of
this art; for when they had commenced printing a Bible they found that
upwards of four thousand florins had been expended before they had
finished the third _quaternion_ [or quire of four sheets]. Peter
Scheffer, an ingenious and prudent man, at first the servant, and
afterwards, as has been already said, the son-in-law of John Faust, the
first inventor, discovered the more ready mode of casting the types, and
perfected the art as it is at present exercised. These three for some
time kept their method of printing a secret, till at length it was
divulged by some workmen whose assistance they could not do without. It
first passed to Strasburg, and gradually to other nations.”[III-26]

    [Footnote III-26: Trithemii Annales Hirsaugienses, tom. ii. ad
    annum 1450. The original passage is printed in Prosper Marchand’s
    Histoire de l’Imprimerie, 2nde Partie, p. 7.]

As Trithemius finished the work which contains the preceding account in
1514, Marchand concludes that he must have received his information from
Scheffer about 1484, which would be within thirty-five years of
Gutemberg’s entering into a partnership with Faust. Although Trithemius
had his information from so excellent an authority, yet the account
which he has thus left is far from satisfactory. Schœpflin, amongst
other objections to its accuracy, remarks that Trithemius is wrong in
stating that the invention of moveable types was subsequent to
Gutemberg’s connexion with Faust, seeing that the former had previously
employed them at Strasburg; and he also observes that in the learned
abbot’s account there is no distinct mention made of moveable letters
cut by hand, but that we are led to infer that the improvement of
casting types from matrices immediately followed the printing of the
Catholicon from wood-blocks. The words of Trithemius on this point are
as follows: “Post hæc, inventis successerunt subtiliora, inveneruntque
modum fundendi formas omnium Latini alphabeti litterarum, quas ipsi
_matrices_ nominabant, ex quibus rursum æneos sive stanneos characteres
fundebant ad omnem pressuram sufficientes quos prius manibus
sculpebant.” From this passage it might be objected in opposition to the
opinion of Schœpflin:[III-27] 1. That the “subtiliora,”--more subtle
contrivances, mentioned _before_ the invention of casting moveable
letters, may relate to the cutting of such letters by hand. 2. That the
word “quos” is to be referred to the antecedent “æneos sive stanneos
characteres,”--letters of copper or tin,--and not to the “characteres in
tabulis ligneis scripti,”--letters engraved on wood-blocks,--which are
mentioned in a preceding sentence. The inconsistency of Trithemius in
ascribing the origin of the art to Gutemberg, and twice immediately
afterwards calling Scheffer the son-in-law of “the first inventor,”
Faust, is noticed by Schœpflin, and has been pointed out by several
other writers.

    [Footnote III-27: Vindiciæ Typographicæ, pp. 77, 78.]

In 1455 the partnership between Gutemberg and Faust was dissolved at the
instance of the latter, who preferred a suit against his partner for the
recovery, with interest, of certain sums of money which he had advanced.
There is no mention of the time when the partnership commenced in the
sentence or award of the judge; but Schwartz infers, from the sum
claimed on account of interest, that it must have been in August 1449.
It is probable that his conclusion is very near the truth; for most of
the early writers who have mentioned the invention of printing at Mentz
by Gutemberg and Faust, agree in assigning the year 1450 as that in
which they began to practise the new art. It is conjectured by Santander
that Faust, who seems to have been a selfish character,[III-28] sought
an opportunity of quarrelling with Gutemberg as soon as Scheffer had
communicated to him his great improvement of forming the letters by
means of punches and matrices.

    [Footnote III-28: In the first work which issued from Faust and
    Scheffer’s press, with a date and the printer’s names,--the
    Psalter of 1457,--and in several others, Scheffer appears on an
    equal footing with Faust. In the colophon of an edition of Cicero
    de Officiis, 1465, Faust has inserted the following degrading
    words: “Presens opus Joh. Fust Moguntinus civis . . . . arte
    quadam perpulcra Petri manu _pueri mei_ feliciter effeci.” His
    partner, to whose ingenuity he is chiefly indebted for his fame,
    is here represented in the character of a menial. Peter Scheffer,
    of Gernsheim, clerk, who perfected the art of printing, is now
    degraded to “Peter, my _boy_” by whose hand--not by his
    ingenuity--John Faust exercises a certain beautiful art.]

The document containing the decision of the judges was drawn up by Ulric
Helmasperger, a notary, on 6th November, 1455, in the presence of Peter
Gernsheim [Scheffer], James Faust, the brother of John, Henry Keffer,
and others.[III-29] From the statement of Faust, as recited in this
instrument, it appears that he had first advanced to Gutemberg eight
hundred florins at the annual interest of six per cent., and afterwards
eight hundred florins more. Gutemberg having neglected to pay the
interest, there was owing by him a sum of two hundred and fifty florins
on account of the first eight hundred; and a further sum of one hundred
and forty on account of the second. In consequence of Gutemberg’s
neglecting to pay the interest, Faust states that he had incurred a
further expense of thirty-six florins from having to borrow money both
of Christians and Jews. For the capital advanced by him, and arrears of
interest, he claimed on the whole two thousand and twenty

    [Footnote III-29: Henry Keffer was employed in Gutemberg and
    Faust’s printing-office. He afterwards went to Nuremberg, where
    his name appears as a printer, in 1473, in conjunction with John
    Sensenschmid.--Primaria quædam Documenta de origine Typographiæ,
    edente C. G. Schwartzio. 8vo. Altorfii, 1740.]

    [Footnote III-30: “Er [Johan Fust] denselben solt fürter under
    Christen und Iudden hab müssen ussnemen, und davor sess und
    dreyssig Gulden ungevärlich zu guter Rechnung zu Gesuch geben, das
    sich also zusamen mit dem Hauptgeld ungevärlich trifft an
    zvvytusend und zvvanzig Gulden.” Schwartz in an observation upon
    this passage conceives the sum of 2,020 florins to be thus made
    up: capital advanced, in two sums of 800 each, 1,600 florins:
    interest 390; on account of compound interest, incurred by Faust,
    36; making in all 2,026. He thinks that 2,020 florins only were
    claimed as a round sum; and that the second sum of 800 florins was
    advanced in October 1452.--Primaria quædam Documenta, pp. 9-14.]

In answer to these allegations Gutemberg replied: that the first eight
hundred florins which he received of Faust were advanced in order to
purchase utensils for printing, which were assigned to Faust as a
security for his money. It was agreed between them that Faust should
contribute three hundred florins annually for workmen’s wages and
house-rent, and for the purchase of parchment, paper, ink, and other
things.[III-31] It was also stipulated that in the event of any
disagreement arising between them, the printing materials assigned to
Faust as a security should become the property of Gutemberg on his
repaying the sum of eight hundred florins. This sum, however, which was
advanced for the completion of the work, Gutemberg did not think himself
bound to expend on book-work alone; and although it was expressed in
their agreement that he should pay six florins in the hundred for an
annual interest, yet Faust assured him that he would not accept of it,
as the eight hundred florins were not paid down at once, as by their
agreement they ought to have been. For the second sum of eight hundred
florins he was ready to render Faust an account. For interest or usury
he considered that he was not liable.[III-32]

    [Footnote III-31: “. . . . und das JOHANNES [FUST] ym ierlichen
    300 Gulden vor Kosten geben, und auch Gesinde Lone, Huss Zinss,
    Vermet, Papier, Tinte, &c. verlegen solte.” Primaria qæedam Doc.
    p. 10.]

    [Footnote III-32: “. . . . von den ubrigen 800 Gulden vvegen
    begert er ym ein rechnung zu thun, so gestett er auch ym keins
    Soldes noch Wuchers, und hofft ym im rechten darum nit pflichtigk
    sin.” Primaria quædam Doc. p. 11.]

The judges, having heard the statements of both parties, decided that
Gutemberg should repay Faust so much of the capital as had not been
expended in the business; and that on Faust’s producing witnesses, or
swearing that he had borrowed upon interest the sums advanced, Gutemberg
should pay him interest also, according to their agreement. Faust having
made oath that he had borrowed 1550 florins, which he paid over to
Gutemberg, to be employed by him for their common benefit, and that he
had paid yearly interest, and was still liable on account of the same,
the notary, Ulric Helmasperger, signed his attestation of the award on
6th November, 1455.[III-33] It would appear that Gutemberg not being
able to repay the money was obliged to relinquish the printing materials
to Faust.

    [Footnote III-33: Mercier, who is frequently referred to as an
    authority on subjects connected with Bibliography, has, in his
    supplement to Prosper Marchand’s Histoire de l’Imprimerie,
    confounded this document with that containing an account of the
    process between the Drytzehns and Gutemberg at Strasburg in 1439;
    and Heineken, at p. 255 of his Idée Générale, has committed the
    same mistake.]

Salmuth, who alludes to the above document in his annotations upon
Pancirollus, has most singularly perverted its meaning, by representing
Gutemberg as the person who advanced the money, and Faust as the
ingenious inventor who was sued by his rich partner. “From this it
evidently appears,” says he, after making Gutemberg and Faust exchange
characters, “that Gutemberg was not the first who invented and practised
typography; but that some years after its invention he was admitted a
partner by John Faust, to whom he advanced money.” If for “Gutemberg” we
read “Faust,” and _vice versâ_, the account is correct.

Whether Faust, who might be an engraver as well as a goldsmith, assisted
Gutemberg or not by engraving the types, does not appear. It is stated
that Gutemberg’s earliest productions at Mentz were an alphabet cut on
wood, and a Donatus executed in the same manner. Trithemius mentions a
“_Catholicon_” engraved on blocks of wood as one of the first books
printed by Gutemberg and Faust, and this Heineken thinks was the same as
the Donatus.[III-34] Whatever may have been the book which Trithemius
describes as a “Catholicon,” it certainly was not the “_Catholicon
Joannis Januensis_,” a large folio which appeared in 1460 without the
name or residence of the printer, but which is supposed to have been
printed by Gutemberg after the dissolution of his partnership with

    [Footnote III-34: “Je crois, que ces tables [deux planches de bois
    autrefois chez le Duc de la Valliere] sont du livre que le
    Chroniqueur de Cologne appelle un _Donat_ et que _Trithem_ nomme
    un _Catholicon_, (livre universel,) ce qu’on a confondu ensuite
    avec le grand ouvrage intitulé _Catholicon Januensis_.”--Idée
    Générale, p. 258.]

It has been stated that previous to the introduction of metal types
Gutemberg and Faust used moveable types of wood; and Schœpflin speaks
confidently of such being used at Strasburg by Mentelin long after
Scheffer had introduced the improved method of forming metal types by
means of punches and matrices. On this subject, however, Schœpflin’s
opinion is of very little weight, for on whatever relates to the
practice of typography or wood engraving he was very slightly informed.
He fancies that all the books printed at Strasburg previous to the
appearance of _Vincentii Bellovacensis Speculum Historiale_ in 1473,
were printed with moveable types of wood. It is, however, doubtful if
ever a single book was printed in this manner.

Willett in his Essay on Printing, published in the eleventh volume of
the Archæologia, not only says that no entire book was ever printed with
wooden types, but adds, “I venture to pronounce it impossible.” He has
pronounced rashly. Although it certainly would be a work of considerable
labour to cut a set of moveable letters of the size of what is called
Donatus type, and sufficient to print such a book, yet it is by no means
impossible. That such books as “_Eyn Manung der Cristenheit widder die
durken_,” of which a fac-simile is given by Aretin, and the first and
second Donatuses, of which specimens are given by Fischer, might be
printed from wooden types I am perfectly satisfied, though I am
decidedly of opinion that they were not. Marchand has doubted the
possibility of printing with wooden types, which he observes would be
apt to warp when wet for the purpose of cleaning; but it is to be
observed that they would not require to be cleaned before they were

Fournier, who was a letter-founder, and who occasionally practised wood
engraving, speaks positively of the Psalter first printed by Faust and
Scheffer in 1457, and again in 1459, being printed with wooden types;
and he expresses his conviction of the practicability of cutting and
printing with such types, provided that they were not of a smaller size
than Great Primer Roman. Meerman shows the possibility of using such
types; and Camus caused two lines of the Bible, supposed to have been
printed by Gutemberg, to be cut in separate letters on wood, and which
sustained the action of the press.[III-35] Lambinet says, it is certain
that Gutemberg cut moveable letters of wood, but he gives no authority
for the assertion; and I am of opinion that no unexceptionable testimony
on this point can be produced. The statements of Serarius and Paulus
Pater,[III-36] who profess to have seen such ancient wooden types at
Mentz, are entitled to as little credit as Daniel Specklin, who asserted
that he had seen such at Strasburg. They may have seen large initial
letters of wood with holes bored through, but scarcely any lower-case
letters which were ever used in printing any book.

    [Footnote III-35: Oberlin, Essai d’Annales de la Vie de

    [Footnote III-36: “. . . . ligneos typos, ex buxi frutice,
    perforatos in medio, ut zona colligari una jungique commode
    possint, ex Fausti officina reliquos, Moguntiæ aliquando me
    conspexisse memini.”--Paulus Pater, in Dissertatione de Typis
    Literarum, &c. p, 10. 4to. Lipsiæ, 1710. Heineken, at p. 254 of
    his Idée Gén., declares himself to be convinced that Gutemberg had
    cut separate letters on wood, but he thinks that no person would
    be able to cut a quantity sufficient to print whole sheets, and,
    still less, large volumes as many pretend.]

That experiments might be made by Gutemberg with wooden types I can
believe, though I have not been able to find any sufficient authority
for the fact. Of the possibility of cutting moveable types of a certain
size in wood, and of printing a book with them, I am convinced from
experiment; and could convince others, were it worth the expense, by
printing a fac-simile, from wooden types, of any page of any book which
is of an earlier date than 1462. But, though convinced of the
possibility of printing small works in letters of a certain size, with
wooden types, I have never seen any early specimens of typography which
contained positive and indisputable indications of having been printed
in that manner. It was, until of late, confidently asserted by persons
who pretended to have a competent knowledge of the subject, that the
text of the celebrated Adventures of Theurdank, printed in 1517, had
been engraved on wood-blocks, and their statement was generally
believed. There cannot, however, now be a doubt in the mind of any
person who examines the book, and who has the slightest knowledge of
wood engraving and printing, of the text being printed with metal types.

During the partnership of Gutemberg and Faust it is likely that they
printed some works, though there is scarcely one which can be assigned
to them with any degree of certainty. One of the supposed earliest
productions of typography is a letter of indulgence conceded on the 12th
of August, 1451, by Pope Nicholas V, to Paulin Zappe, counsellor and
ambassador of John, King of Cyprus. It was to be in force for three
years from the 1st of May, 1452, and it granted indulgence to all
persons who within that period should contribute towards the defence of
Cyprus against the Turks. Four copies of this indulgence are known,
printed on vellum in the manner of a patent or brief. The characters are
of a larger size than those of the “Durandi Rationale,” 1459, or of the
Latin Bible printed by Faust and Scheffer in 1462. The following date
appears at the conclusion of one of the copies: “Datum _Erffurdie_ sub
anno Domini m cccc liiij, die vero _quinta decima_ mensis _novembris_.”
The words which are here printed in Italic, are in the original written
with a pen. A copy of the same indulgence discovered by Professor
Gebhardi is more complete. It has at the end, a “_Forma plenissimæ
absolutionis et remissionis in vita et in mortis articulo_,”--a form of
plenary absolution and remission in life and at the point of death. At
the conclusion is the following date, the words in Italics being
inserted with a pen: “Datum in _Luneborch_ anno Domini m cccc l
_quinto_, die vero _vicesima sexta_ mensis _Januarii_.” Heineken, who
saw this copy in the possession of Breitkopf, has observed that in the
original date, m cccc liiij, the last four characters had been effaced
and the word _quinto_ written with a pen; but yet in such a manner that
the numerals iiij might still be perceived. In two copies of this
indulgence in the possession of Earl Spencer, described by Dr. Dibdin in
the Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol. i. p. 44, the final units (iiij) have
not had the word “quinto” overwritten, but have been formed with a pen
into the numeral V. In the catalogue of Dr. Kloss’s library, No. 1287,
it is stated that a fragment of a “Donatus” there described, consisting
of two leaves of parchment, is printed with the same type as the
Mazarine Bible; and it is added, on the authority of George Appleyard,
Esq., Earl Spencer’s librarian, that the “Littera Indulgentiæ” of Pope
Nicholas V, in his lordship’s possession, contains two lines printed
with the same type. Breitkopf had some doubts respecting this
instrument; but a writer in the Jena Literary Gazette is certainly wrong
in supposing that it had been ante-dated ten years. It was only to be in
force for three years; and Pope Nicholas V, by whom it was granted, died
on the 24th March, 1455.[III-37] Two words, UNIVERSIS and PAULINUS,
which are printed in capitals in the first two lines, are said to be of
the same type as those of a Bible of which Schelhorn has given a
specimen in his “Dissertation on an early Edition of the Bible,” Ulm,

    [Footnote III-37: Oberlin, Essai d’Annales de la Vie de

The next earliest specimen of typography with a date is the tract
entitled “_Eyn Manung der Cristenkeit widder die durken_,”--An Appeal to
Christendom against the Turks,--which has been alluded to at page 136.
A lithographic fac-simile of the whole of this tract, which consists of
nine printed pages of a quarto size, is given by Aretin at the end of
his “Essay on the earliest historical results of the invention of
Printing,” published at Munich in 1808. This “Appeal” is in German
rhyme, and it consists of exhortations, arranged under every month in
the manner of a calendar, addressed to the pope, the emperor, to kings,
princes, bishops, and free states, encouraging them to take up arms and
resist the Turks. The exhortation for January is addressed to Pope
Nicholas V, who died, as has been observed, in March 1455. Towards the
conclusion of the prologue is the date “_Als man zelet noch din’ geburt
offenbar m.cccc.lv. iar sieben wochen und iiii do by von nativitatis bis
esto michi_.” At the conclusion of the exhortation for December are the
following words: “Eyn gut selig nuwe Jar:” A happy new year! From these
circumstances Aretin is of opinion that the tract was printed towards
the end of 1454. M. Bernhart, however, one of the superintendents of the
Royal Library at Munich, of which Aretin was the principal director, has
questioned the accuracy of this date; and from certain allusions in the
exhortation for December, has endeavoured to show that the correct date
ought to be 1472.[III-38]

    [Footnote III-38: Dr. Dibdin, Bibliog. Tour, vol iii. p. 135,
    second edition.]

Fischer in looking over some old papers discovered a calendar of a folio
size, and printed on one side only, for 1457. The letters, according to
his description, resemble those of a Donatus, of which he has given
a specimen in the third part of his Typographic Rarities, and he
supposes that both the Donatus and the Calendar were printed by
Gutemberg.[III-39] It is, however, certain that the Donatus which
he ascribed to Gutemberg was printed by Peter Scheffer, and in all
probability after Faust’s death; and from the similarity of the type it
is likely that the Calendar was printed at the same office. Fischer,
having observed that the large ornamental capitals of this Donatus were
the same as those in the Psalter printed by Faust and Scheffer in 1457,
was led most erroneously to conclude that the large ornamental letters
of the Psalter, which were most likely of wood, had been cut by
Gutemberg. The discovery of a Donatus with Peter Scheffer’s imprint has
completely destroyed his conjectures, and invalidated the arguments
advanced by him in favour of the Mazarine Bible being printed by
Gutemberg alone.

    [Footnote III-39: Gotthelf Fischer, Notice du premier livre
    imprimé avec date. 4to. Mayence, An xi. Typographisch. Seltenheit.
    6te. Lieferung, S. 25. 8vo. Nürnberg, 1804. When Fischer published
    his account of the Calendar, Aretin had not discovered the tract
    entitled “_Eyn Manung der Cristenheit widder die durken_.”]

As Trithemius and the compiler of the Cologne Chronicle have mentioned a
Bible as one of the first books printed by Gutemberg and Faust, it has
been a fertile subject of discussion among bibliographers to ascertain
the identical edition to which the honour was to be awarded. It seems,
however, to be now generally admitted that the edition called the
Mazarine[III-40] is the best entitled to that distinction. In 1789
Maugerard produced a copy of this edition to the Academy of Metz,
containing memoranda which seem clearly to prove that it was printed at
least as early as August 1456. As the partnership between Gutemberg and
Faust was only dissolved in November 1455, it is almost impossible that
such could have been printed by either of them separately in the space
of eight months; and as there seems no reason to believe that any other
typographical establishment existed at that period, it is most likely
that this was the identical edition alluded to by Trithemius as having
cost 4,000 florins before the partners, Gutemberg and Faust, had
finished the third quaternion, or quire of four sheets.

    [Footnote III-40: It is called the Mazarine Bible in consequence
    of the first known copy being discovered in the library formed by
    Cardinal Mazarine. Dr. Dibdin, in his Bibliographical Tour, vol.
    ii. p. 191, mentions having seen not fewer than ten or twelve
    copies of this edition, which he says must not be designated as
    “of the very first degree of rarity.” An edition of the Bible,
    supposed to have been printed at Bamberg by Albert Pfister about
    1461, is much more scarce.]

The copy produced by Maugerard is printed on paper, and is now in the
Royal Library at Paris. It is bound in two volumes; and every complete
page consists of two columns, each containing forty-two lines. At the
conclusion of the first volume the person by whom it was
rubricated[III-41] and bound has written the following memorandum: “_Et
sic est finis prime partis biblie. Scr. Veteris testamenti. Illuminata
seu rubricata et illuminata p’ henricum Albeh alius Cremer anno dn’i
m.cccc.lvi festo Bartholomei apli--Deo gratias--alleluja._” At the end
of the second volume the same person has written the date in words at
length: “_Iste liber illuminatus, ligatus & completus est p’ henricum
Cremer vicariū ecclesie collegatur Sancti Stephani maguntini sub anno
D’ni millesimo quadringentesimo quinquagesimo sexto festo assumptionis
gloriose virginis Marie. Deo gracias alleluja._”[III-42] Fischer[III-43]
says that this last memorandum assigns “einen spätern tag”--a later
day--to the end of the rubricator’s work. In this he is mistaken; for
the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, when the _second_ volume was
finished, is on the 15th of August: while the feast of St. Bartholomew,
the day on which he finished the _first_, falls on August 24th.
Lambinet,[III-44] who doubts the genuineness of those inscriptions,
makes the circumstance of the second volume being finished nine days
before the first, a ground of objection. This seeming inconsistency
however can by no means be admitted as a proof of the inscriptions being
spurious. It is indeed more likely that the rubricator might actually
finish the second volume before the first, than that a modern forger,
intent to deceive, should not have been aware of the objection.

    [Footnote III-41: In most of the early printed books the capitals
    were left to be inserted in red ink by the pen or pencil of the

    [Footnote III-42: There are fac-simile tracings of those
    memorandums, on separate slips of paper, in the copy of the
    Mazarine Bible in the King’s Library at the British Museum; and
    fac-simile engravings of them are given in the M’Carthy

    [Footnote III-43: Typograph. Seltenheit. S. 20, 3te. Lieferung.]

    [Footnote III-44: Recherches sur l’Origine de l’Imprimerie,
    p. 135.]

The genuineness of the inscriptions is, however, confirmed by other
evidence which no mere conjecture can invalidate. On the last leaf of
this Bible there is a memorandum written by Berthold de Steyna, vicar of
the parochial church of “Ville-Ostein,”[III-45] to the sacrist of which
the Bible belonged. The sum of this memorandum is that on St. George’s
day [23d April] 1457 there was chaunted, for the first time by the said
Berthold, the mass of the holy sacrament. In the Carthusian monastery
without the walls of Mentz, Schwartz[III-46] says that he saw a copy of
this edition, the last leaves of which were torn out; but that in an old
catalogue he perceived an entry stating that this Bible was presented to
the monastery by Gutemberg and Faust. If the memorandum in the catalogue
could be relied on as genuine, it would appear that this Bible had been
completed before the dissolution of Gutemberg and Faust’s partnership in
November 1455.

    [Footnote III-45: Oberlin says that “Ville-Ostein” lies near
    Erfurth, and is in the diocese of Mentz.]

    [Footnote III-46: Index librorum sub incunabula typograph.
    impressorum. 1739; cited by Fischer, Typograph. Seltenheit. S. 21,
    3te. Lieferung.]

Although not a single work has been discovered with Gutemberg’s imprint,
yet there cannot be a doubt of his having established a press of his
own, and printed books at Mentz after the partnership between him and
Faust had been dissolved. In the chronicle printed by Philip de
Lignamine at Rome in 1474, it is expressly stated, under the year 1458,
that there were then two printers at Mentz skilful in printing on
parchment with metal types. The name of one was _Cutemberg_, and the
other Faust; and it was known that each of them could print three
hundred sheets in a day.[III-47] On St. Margaret’s day, 20th July, 1459,
Gutemberg, in conjunction with his brother Friele and his cousins John,
Friele, and Pederman, executed a deed in favour of the convent of St.
Clara at Mentz, in which his sister Hebele was a nun. In this document,
which is preserved among the archives of the university of Mentz, there
occurs a passage, “which makes it as clear,” says Fischer, who gives the
deed entire, “as the finest May-day noon, that Gutemberg had not only
printed books at that time, but that he intended to print more.” The
passage alluded to is to the following effect: “And with respect to the
books which I, the above-named John, have given the library of the said
convent, they shall remain for ever in the said library; and I, the
above-named John, will furthermore give to the library of the said
convent all such books required for pious uses and the service of
God,--whether for reading or singing, or for use according to the rules
of the order,--as I, the above-named John, have printed or shall
hereafter print.”[III-48]

    [Footnote III-47: Philippi de Lignamine Chronica Summorum
    Pontificum Imperatorumque, anno 1474, Romæ impressa. A second
    edition of this chronicle was printed at Rome in 1476 by
    “Schurener de Bopardia.” In both editions Gutemberg is called
    “Jacobus,”--James, and is said to be a native of Strasburg. Under
    the same year John Mentelin is mentioned as a printer at

    [Footnote III-48: Fischer, Typograph. Seltenheit. S. 44, 1ste.
    Lieferung. In this instrument Gutemberg describes himself as
    “Henne Genssfleisch von Sulgeloch, genennt Gudinberg.”]

That Gutemberg had a press of his own is further confirmed by a bond or
deed of obligation executed by Dr. Conrad Homery on the Friday after St.
Matthias’ day, 1468, wherein he acknowledges having received “certain
forms, letters, utensils, materials, and other things belonging to
printing,” left by John Gutemberg deceased; and he binds himself to the
archbishop Adolphus not to use them beyond the territory of Mentz, and
in the event of his selling them to give a preference to a person
belonging to that city.

The words translated “certain forms, letters, utensils, materials, and
other things belonging to printing,” in the preceding paragraph, are in
the original enumerated as: “_etliche formen_, _buchstaben_,
_instrument_, _gezuge und anders zu truckwerck gehoerende_.” As there is
a distinction made between “formen” and “buchstaben,”--literally,
“forms” and “letters,”--Schwartz is inclined to think that by “formen”
engraved wood-blocks might be meant, and he adduces in favour of his
opinion the word “formen-schneider,” the old German name for a
wood-engraver. One or more pages of type when wedged into a rectangular
iron frame called a “chase,” and ready for the press, is termed a “form”
both by English and German printers; but Schwartz thinks that such were
not the “forms” mentioned in the document. As there appears to be a
distinction also between “_instrument_” and “_gezuge_,”--translated
utensils and materials,--he supposes that the latter word may be used to
signify the metal of which the types were formed. He observes that
German printers call their old worn-out types “_der Zeug_”--literally,
“stuff,” and that the mixed metal of which types are composed is also
known as “der Zeug, oder Metall.”[III-49] It is to be remembered that
the earliest printers were also their own letter-founders.

    [Footnote III-49: Primaria quædam Document. pp. 26-34.]

The work called the Catholicon, compiled by Johannes de Balbis,
Januensis, a Dominican, which appeared in 1460 without the printer’s
name, has been ascribed to Gutemberg’s press by some of the most eminent
German bibliographers. It is a Latin dictionary and introduction to
grammar, and consists of three hundred and seventy-three leaves of large
folio size. Fischer and others are of opinion that a Vocabulary, printed
at Elfeld,--in Latin, Altavilla,--near Mentz, on 6th November, 1467, was
executed with the same types. At the end of this work, which is a quarto
of one hundred and sixty-five leaves, it is stated to have been begun by
Henry Bechtermuntze, and finished by his brother Nicholas, and Wigand
Spyess de Orthenberg.[III-50] A second edition of the same work, printed
by Nicholas Bechtermuntze, appeared in 1469. The following extract from
a letter written by Fischer to Professor Zapf in 1803, contains an
account of his researches respecting the Catholicon and Vocabulary: “The
frankness with which you retracted your former opinions respecting the
printer of the Catholicon of 1460, and agreed with me in assigning it to
Gutemberg, demands the respect of every unbiassed inquirer. I beg now
merely to mention to you a discovery that I have made which no longer
leaves it difficult to conceive how the Catholicon types should have
come into the hands of Bechtermuntze. From a monument which stands
before the high altar of the church of Elfeld it is evident that the
family of Sorgenloch, of which that of Gutemberg or Gænsfleisch was a
branch, was connected with the family of Bechtermuntze by marriage. The
types used by Bechtermuntze were not only similar to those formerly
belonging to Gutemberg, but were the very same, as I always maintained,
appealing to the principles of the type-founder’s art. They had come
into the possession of Bechtermuntze by inheritance, on the death of
Gutemberg, and hence Dr. Homery’s reclamation.”[III-51]

    [Footnote III-50: “. . . . per henricum bechtermuncze pie memorie
    in altavilla est inchoatum. et demū sub anno dñi M.CCCCLXII. ipō
    die Leonardi confessoris qui fuit quarta die mensis novembris
    p. nycolaum bechtermūcze fratrem dicti Henrici et Wygandū Spyess
    de orthenberg ē consummatū.” There is a copy of this edition in
    the Royal Library at Paris.]

    [Footnote III-51: Typographisch. Seltenheit. S. 101, 5te.

Zapf, to whom Fischer’s letter is addressed, had previously communicated
to Oberlin his opinion that the types of the Catholicon were the same as
those of an _Augustinus de Vita Christiana_, 4to, without date or
printer’s name, but having at the end the arms of Faust and Scheffer. In
his account, printed at Nuremberg, 1803, of an early edition of “Joannis
de Turre-cremata explanatio in Psalterium,” he acknowledged that he was
mistaken; thus agreeing with Schwartz, Meerman, Panzer, and Fischer,
that no book known to be printed by Faust and Scheffer is printed with
the same types as the Catholicon and the Vocabulary.

Although there can be little doubt of the Catholicon and the Elfeld
Vocabulary being printed with the same types, and of the former being
printed by Gutemberg, yet it is far from certain that Bechtermuntze
inherited Gutemberg’s printing materials, even though he might be a
relation. It is as likely that Gutemberg might sell to the brothers a
portion of his materials and still retain enough for himself. If they
came into their possession by inheritance, which is not likely,
Gutemberg must have died some months previous to 4th November, 1467, the
day on which Nicholas Bechtermuntze and Wygand Spyess finished the
printing of the Vocabulary. If the materials had been purchased by
Bechtermuntze in Gutemberg’s lifetime, which seems to be the most
reasonable supposition, Conrad Homery could have no claim upon them on
account of money advanced to Gutemberg, and consequently the types and
printing materials which after his death came into Homery’s possession,
could not be those employed by the brothers Bechtermuntze in their
establishment at Elfeld.[III-52]

    [Footnote III-52: The two following works, without date or
    printer’s name, are printed with the same types as the Catholicon,
    and it is doubtful whether they were printed by Gutemberg, or by
    other persons with his types.
    1. Matthei de Cracovia tractatus, seu dialogus racionis et
    consciencie de sumpcione pabuli salutiferi corporis domini nostri
    ihesu christi. 4to. foliis 22.
    2. Thome de Aquino summa de articulis fidei et ecclesie
    sacramentis. 4to. foliis 13.
    A declaration of Thierry von Isenburg, archbishop of Mayence,
    offering to resign in favour of his opponent, Adolphus of Nassau,
    printed in German and Latin in 1462, is ascribed to Gutemberg: it
    is of quarto size and consists of four leaves.--Oberlin, Annales
    de la Vie de Gutenberg.]

By letters patent, dated at Elfeld on St. Anthony’s day, 1465, Adolphus,
archbishop and elector of Mentz, appointed Gutemberg one of his
courtiers, with the same allowance of clothing as the rest of the nobles
attending his court, with other privileges and exemptions. From this
period Fischer thinks that Gutemberg no longer occupied himself with
business as a printer, and that he transferred his printing materials to
Henry Bechtermuntze. “If Wimpheling’s account be true,” says Fischer,
“that Gutemberg became blind in his old age, we need no longer be
surprised that during his lifetime his types and utensils should come
into the possession of Bechtermuntze.” The exact period of Gutemberg’s
decease has not been ascertained, but in the bond or deed of obligation
executed by Doctor Conrad Homery the Friday after St. Matthias’s
day,[III-53] 1468, he is mentioned as being then dead. He was interred
at Mentz in the church of the Recollets, and the following epitaph was
composed by his relation, Adam Gelthaus:[III-54]

  “D. O. M. S.

“Joanni Genszfleisch, artis impressoriæ repertori, de omni natione et
lingua optime merito, in nominis sui memoriam immortalem Adam Gelthaus
posuit. Ossa ejus in ecclesia D. Francisci Moguntina feliciter cubant.”

From the last sentence it is probable that this epitaph was not placed
in the church wherein Gutemberg was interred. The following inscription
was composed by Ivo Wittich, professor of law and member of the imperial
chamber at Mentz:

“Jo. Guttenbergensi, Moguntino, qui primus omnium literas ære
imprimendas invenit, hac arte de orbe toto bene merenti Ivo Witigisis
hoc saxum pro monimento posuit M.D.VII.”

    [Footnote III-53: St. Matthias’s Day is on 24th February.]

    [Footnote III-54: In the instrument dated 1434, wherein Gutemberg
    agrees to release the town-clerk of Mentz, whom he had arrested,
    mention is made of a relation of his, Ort Gelthus, living at
    Oppenheim. Schœpflin, mistaking the word, has printed in his
    Documenta, p. 4, “Artgeld huss,” which he translates “Artgeld
    domo,” the house of Artgeld.]

This inscription, according to Serarius, who professes to have seen it,
and who died in 1609, was placed in front of the school of law at Mentz.
This house had formerly belonged to Gutemberg, and was supposed to be
the same in which he first commenced printing at Mentz in conjunction
with Faust.[III-55]

    [Footnote III-55: Serarii Historia Mogunt. lib. 1. cap. xxxvii.
    p. 159. Heineken, Nachrichten von Kunstlern und Kunst-Sachen, 2te.
    Theil, S. 299.]

From the documentary evidence cited in the preceding account of the life
of Gutemberg, it will be perceived that the art of printing with
moveable types was not perfected as soon as conceived, but that it was a
work of time. It is highly probable that Gutemberg was occupied with his
invention in 1436; and from the obscure manner in which his “admirable
discovery” is alluded to in the process between him and the Drytzehns in
1439, it does not seem likely that he had then proceeded beyond making
experiments. In 1449 or 1450, when the sum of 800 florins was advanced
by Faust, it appears not unreasonable to suppose that he had so far
improved his invention, as to render it practically available without
reference to Scheffer’s great improvement in casting the types from
matrices formed by punches, which was most likely discovered between
1452 and 1455.[III-56] About fourteen years must have elapsed before
Gutemberg was enabled to bring his invention into practice. The
difficulties which must have attended the first establishment of
typography could only have been surmounted by great ingenuity and
mechanical knowledge combined with unwearied perseverance. After the
mind had conceived the idea of using moveable types, those types,
whatever might be the material employed, were yet to be formed, and when
completed they were to be arranged in pages, divided by proper spaces,
and bound together in some manner which the ingenuity of the inventor
was to devise. Nor was his invention complete until he had contrived a
PRESS, by means of which numerous impressions from his types might be
perfectly and rapidly obtained.

    [Footnote III-56: In the colophon to “Trithemii Breviarium
    historiarum de origine Regum et Gentis Francorum,” printed at
    Mentz in 1515 by John Scheffer, son of Peter Scheffer and
    Christina, the daughter of Faust, it is stated that the art of
    printing was perfected in 1452, through the labour and ingenious
    contrivances of Peter Scheffer of Gernsheim, and that Faust gave
    him his daughter Christina in marriage as a reward.]

Mr. Ottley, at page 285 of the first volume of his Researches, informs
us that “almost all great discoveries have been made by accident;” and
at page 196 of the same volume, when speaking of printing as the
invention of Lawrence Coster, he mentions it as an “art which had been
at first taken up as the amusement of a leisure hour, became improved,
and was practised by him as a profitable trade.” Let any unbiassed
person enter a printing-office; let him look at the single letters, let
him observe them formed into pages, and the pages wedged up in forms;
let him see a sheet printed from one of those forms by means of the
press; and when he has seen and considered all this, let him ask himself
if ever, since the world began, the amusement of an old man practised in
his hours of leisure was attended with such a result? “Very few great
discoveries,” says Lord Brougham, “have been made by chance and by
ignorant persons, much fewer than is generally supposed.--They are
generally made by persons of competent knowledge, and who are in search
of them.”[III-57]

    [Footnote III-57: On the Pleasures and Advantages of Science,
    p. 160. Edit. 1831.]

Having now given some account of the grounds on which Gutemberg’s claims
to the invention of typography are founded, it appears necessary to give
a brief summary, from the earliest authorities, of the pretensions of
Lawrence Coster not only to the same honour, but to something more; for
if the earliest account which we have of him be true, he was not only
the inventor of typography, but of block-printing also.

The first mention of Holland in connexion with the invention of
typography occurs in the Cologne Chronicle, printed by John Kœlhoff in
1499, wherein it is said that the first idea of the art was suggested by
the Donatuses printed in Holland; it being however expressly stated in
the same work that the art of printing as then practised was invented at
Mentz. In a memorandum, which has been referred to at page 123, written
by Mariangelus Accursius, who flourished about 1530, the invention of
printing with metal types is erroneously ascribed to Faust; and it is
further added, that he derived the idea from a Donatus printed in
Holland from a wood-block. That a Donatus might be printed there from a
wood-block previous to the invention of typography is neither impossible
nor improbable; although I esteem the testimony of Accursius of very
little value. He was born and resided in Italy, and it is not unlikely,
as has been previously observed, that he might derive his information
from the Cologne Chronicle.

John Van Zuyren, who died in 1594, is said to have written a book to
prove that typography was invented at Harlem; but it never was printed,
and the knowledge that we have of it is from certain fragments of it
preserved by Scriverius, a writer whose own uncorroborated testimony on
this subject is not entitled to the slightest credit. The substance of
Zuyren’s account is almost the same as that of Junius, except that he
does not mention the inventor’s name. The art according to him was
invented at Harlem, but that while yet in a rude and imperfect state it
was carried by a stranger to Mentz, and there brought to perfection.

Theodore Coornhert, in the dedication of his Dutch translation of
Tully’s Offices to the magistrates of Harlem, printed in 1561, says that
he had frequently heard from respectable people that the art of printing
was invented at Harlem, and that the house where the inventor lived was
pointed out to him. He proceeds to relate that by the dishonesty of a
workman the art was carried to Mentz and there perfected. Though he says
that he was informed by certain respectable old men both of the
inventor’s name and family, yet, for some reason or other, he is careful
not to mention them. When he was informing the magistrates of Harlem of
their city being the nurse of so famous a discovery, it is rather
strange that he should not mention the parent’s name. From the
conclusion of his dedication we may guess why he should be led to
mention Harlem as the place where typography was invented. It appears
that he and certain friends of his, being inflamed with a patriotic
spirit, designed to establish a new printing-office at Harlem, “in
honour of their native city, to the profit of others, and for their own
accommodation, and yet without detriment to any person.” His claiming
the invention of printing for Harlem was a good advertisement for the

The next writer who mentions Harlem as the place where printing was
invented is Guicciardini, who in his Description of the Low Countries,
first printed at Antwerp in 1567, gives the report, without vouching for
its truth, as follows: “In this place, it appears, not only from the
general opinion of the inhabitants and other Hollanders, but from the
testimony of several writers and from other memoirs, that the art of
printing and impressing letters on paper such as is now practised, was
invented. The inventor dying before the art was perfected or had come
into repute, his servant, as they say, went to live at Mentz, where
making this new art known, he was joyfully received; and applying
himself diligently to so important a business, he brought it to
perfection and into general repute. Hence the report has spread abroad
and gained credit that the art of printing was first practised at Mentz.
What truth there may be in this relation, I am not able, nor do I wish,
to decide; contenting myself with mentioning the subject in a few words,
that I might not prejudice [by my silence the claims of] this

    [Footnote III-58: Ludovico Guicciardini, Descrittione di tutti i
    Paesi Bassi: folio, Anversa, 1581. The original passage is given
    by Meerman. The original words _altre memorie_--translated in the
    above extract “other memoirs”--are rendered by Mr. Ottley “other
    records.” This may pass; but it scarcely can be believed that
    Guicciardini consulted or personally knew of the existence of any
    such records. Mr. Ottley also, to match his “records,” refers to
    the relations of Coornhert, Zuyren, Guicciardini, and Junius as

It is evident that the above account is given from mere report. What
other writers had previously noticed the claims of Harlem, except
Coornhert and Zuyren, remain yet to be discovered. They appear to have
been unknown to Guicciardini’s contemporary, Junius, who was the first
to give a name to the Harlem inventor; a “local habitation” had already
been provided for him by Coornhert.

The sole authority for one Lawrence Coster having invented
wood-engraving, block-printing, and typography, is Hadrian Junius, who
was born at Horn in North Holland, in 1511. He took up his abode at
Harlem in 1560. During his residence in that city he commenced his
Batavia,--the work in which the account of Coster first
appeared,--which, from the preface, would seem to have been finished in
January, 1575. He died the 16th June in the same year, and his book was
not published until 1588, twelve years after his decease.[III-59] In
this work, which is a topographical and historical account of Holland,
or more properly of the country included within the limits of ancient
Batavia, we find the first account of Lawrence Coster as the inventor of
typography. Almost every succeeding advocate of Coster’s pretensions has
taken the liberty of altering, amplifying, or contradicting the account
of Junius according as it might suit his own line of argument; but not
one of them has been able to produce a single solitary fact in
confirmation of it. Scriverius, Seiz, Meerman, and Koning are fertile in
their conjectures about the thief that stole Coster’s types, but they
are miserably barren in their proofs of his having had types to be
stolen. “If the variety of opinions,” observes Naude, speaking of
Coster’s invention, “may be taken as an indication of the falsehood of
any theory, it is impossible that this should be true”. Since Naude’s
time the number of Coster’s advocates has been increased by Seiz,
Meerman, and Koning;[III-60] who, if they have not been able to produce
any evidence of the existence of Lawrence Coster as a printer, have at
least been fertile in conjectures respecting the thief. They have not
strengthened but weakened the Costerian triumphal arch raised by Junius,
for they have all more or less knocked a piece of it away; and even
where they have pretended to make repairs, it has merely been “one nail
driving another out.”

    [Footnote III-59: Junius was a physician, and unquestionably a
    learned man. He is the author of a nomenclator in Latin, Greek,
    Dutch, and French. An edition, with the English synonyms, by John
    Higins and Abraham Fleming, was printed at London in 1585. The
    following passage concerning Junius occurs in Southey’s
    Biographical Sketch of the Earl of Surrey in the “Select Works of
    the British Poets from Chaucer to Jonson:” “Surrey is next found
    distinguishing himself at the siege of Landrecy. At that siege
    Bonner, who was afterwards so eminently infamous, invited Hadrian
    Junius to England. When that distinguished scholar arrived, Bonner
    wanted either the means, or more probably the heart, to assist
    him; but Surrey took him into his family in the capacity of
    physician, and gave him a pension of fifty angels.”]

    [Footnote III-60: Koning’s Dissertation on the Invention of
    Printing, which was crowned by the Society of Sciences of Harlem,
    was first printed at Harlem in the Dutch language in 1816. It was
    afterwards abridged and translated into French with the
    approbation, and under the revision, of the author. In 1817 he
    published a first supplement; and a second appeared in 1820.]

Junius’s account of Coster is supposed to have been written about 1568;
and in order to do justice to the claims of Harlem I shall here give a
faithful translation of the “document,”--according to Mr. Ottley,--upon
which they are founded. After alluding, in a preliminary rhetorical
flourish, to Truth being the daughter of Time, and to her being
concealed in a well, Junius thus proceeds to draw her out.

“If he is the best witness, as Plutarch says, who, bound by no favour
and led by no partiality, freely and fearlessly speaks what he thinks,
my testimony may deservedly claim attention. I have no connexion through
kindred with the deceased, his heirs, or his posterity, and I expect on
this account neither favour nor reward. What I have done is performed
through a regard to the memory of the dead. I shall therefore relate
what I have heard from old and respectable persons who have held offices
in the city, and who seriously affirmed that they had heard what they
told from their elders, whose authority ought justly to entitle them to

About a hundred and twenty-eight years ago,[III-61] Lawrence John,
called the churchwarden or keeper,[III-62] from the profitable and
honourable office which his family held by hereditary right, dwelt in a
large house, which is yet standing entire, opposite the Royal Palace.
This is the person who now on the most sacred ground of right puts forth
his claims to the honour of having invented typography, an honour so
nefariously obtained and possessed by others. Walking in a neighbouring
wood, as citizens are accustomed to do after dinner and on holidays, he
began to cut letters of beech-bark, with which for amusement, the
letters being inverted as on a seal, he impressed short sentences on
paper for the children of his son-in-law. Having succeeded so well in
this, he began to think of more important undertakings, for he was a
shrewd and ingenious man; and, in conjunction with his son-in-law Thomas
Peter, he discovered a more glutinous and tenacious kind of ink, as he
found from experience that the ink in common use occasioned blots. This
Thomas Peter left four sons, all of whom were magistrates; and I mention
this that all may know that the art derived its origin from a
respectable and not from a mean family. He then printed whole figured
pages with the text added. Of this kind I have seen specimens executed
in the infancy of the art, being printed only on one side. This was a
book composed in our native language by an anonymous author, and
entitled _Speculum Nostræ Salutis_. In this we may observe that in the
first productions of the art--for no invention is immediately
perfected--the blank pages were pasted together, so that they might not
appear as a defect. He afterwards exchanged his beech types for leaden
ones, and subsequently he formed his types of tin, as being less
flexible and of greater durability. Of the remains of these types
certain old wine-vessels were cast, which are still preserved in the
house formerly the residence of Lawrence, which, as I have said, looks
into the market-place, and which was afterwards inhabited by his
great-grandson Gerard Thomas, a citizen of repute, who died an old man a
few years ago.

    [Footnote III-61: Reckoning from 1568, the period referred to
    would be 1440.]

    [Footnote III-62: “Ædituus Custosve.” The word “Koster” in modern
    Dutch is synonymous with the English “Sexton.”]

“The new invention being well received, and a new and unheard-of
commodity finding on all sides purchasers, to the great profit of the
inventor, he became more devoted to the art, his business was increased,
and new workmen--the first cause of his misfortune--were employed. Among
them was one called John; but whether, as is suspected, he bore the
ominous surname of Faust,--_infaustus_[III-63] and unfaithful to his
master--or whether it were some other John, I shall not labour to prove,
as I do not wish to disturb the dead already enduring the pangs of
conscience for what they had done when living.[III-64] This person, who
was admitted under an oath to assist in printing, as soon as he thought
he had attained the art of joining the letters, a knowledge of the
fusile types, and other matters connected with the business, embracing
the convenient opportunity of Christmas Eve, when all persons are
accustomed to attend to their devotions, stole all the types and
conveyed away all the utensils which his master had contrived by his own
skill; and then leaving home with the thief, first went to Amsterdam,
then to Cologne, and lastly to Mentz, as his altar of refuge, where
being safely settled, beyond bowshot as they say, he might commence
business, and thence derive a rich profit from the things which he had
stolen. Within the space of a year from Christmas, 1442, it is certain
that there appeared printed with the types which Lawrence had used at
Harlem ‘_Alexandri Galli Doctrinale_,’ a grammar then in frequent use,
with ‘_Petri Hispani Tractatus_.’

    [Footnote III-63: “Sive is (ut fert suspicio) Faustus fuerit
    ominoso cognomine, hero suo infidus et infaustus.” The author here
    indulges in an ominous pun. The Latinised name “_Faustus_,”
    signifies lucky; the word “_infaustus_,” unlucky. The German name
    Füst may be literally translated “Fist.” A clenched hand is the
    crest of the family of Faust.]

    [Footnote III-64: This is an admirable instance of candour.
    A charge is insinuated, and presumed to be a fact, and yet the
    writer kindly forbears to bring forward proof, that he may not
    disturb the dead. History has long since given the lie to the
    insinuation of the thief having been Faust.]

“The above is nearly what I have heard from old men worthy of credit who
had received the tradition as a shining torch transferred from hand to
hand, and I have heard the same related and affirmed by others.
I remember being told by Nicholas Galius, the instructor of my youth,--a
man of iron memory, and venerable from his long white hair,--that when a
boy he had often heard one Cornelius, a bookbinder, not less than eighty
years old (who had been an assistant in the same office), relate with
such excited feelings the whole transaction,--the occasion of the
invention, its progress, and perfection, as he had heard of them from
his master,--that as often as he came to the story of the robbery he
would burst into tears; and then the old man’s anger would be so roused
on account of the honour that had been lost through the theft, that he
appeared as if he could have hanged the thief had he been alive; and
then again he would vow perdition on his sacrilegious head, and curse
the nights that he had slept in the same bed with him, for the old man
had been his bedfellow for some months. This does not differ from the
words of Quirinus Talesius, who admitted to me that he had formerly
received nearly the same account from the mouth of the same

    [Footnote III-65: Hadriani Junii Batavia, p. 253, et sequent.
    Edit. Ludg. Batavor. 1588.]

As Junius died upwards of twelve years before his book was published, it
is doubtful whether the above account was actually written by him or
not. It may have been an interpolation of an editor or a bookseller
anxious for the honour of Harlem, and who might thus expect to gain
currency for the story by giving it to the world under the sanction of
Junius’s name. There was also another advantage attending this mode of
publication; for as the reputed writer was dead, he could not be called
on to answer the many objections which remain yet unexplained.

The manner in which Coster, according to the preceding account, first
discovered the principle of obtaining impressions from separate letters
formed of the bark of the beech-tree requires no remark.[III-66] There
are, however, other parts of this narrative which more especially force
themselves on the attention as being at variance with reason as well as

    [Footnote III-66: Scriverius--whose book was printed in
    1628--thinking that there might be some objection raised to the
    letters of beech-bark, thus, according to his own fancy, amends
    the account of Cornelius as given by Junius: “Coster walking in
    the wood picked up a small bough of a beech, or rather of an
    oak-tree blown off by the wind; and after amusing himself with
    cutting some letters on it, wrapped it up in paper, and afterwards
    laid himself down to sleep. When he awoke, he perceived that the
    paper, by a shower of rain or some accident having got moist, had
    received an impression from these letters; which induced him to
    pursue the accidental discovery.” This is more imaginative than
    the account of Cornelius, but scarcely more probable.]

Coster, we are informed, lived in a large house, and, at the time of his
engaging the workman who robbed him, he had brought the art to such
perfection that he derived from it a great profit; and in consequence of
the demand for the new commodity, which was eagerly sought after by
purchasers, he was obliged to increase his establishment and engage
assistants. It is therefore evident that the existence of such an art
must have been well known, although its details might be kept secret.
Coster, we are also informed, was of a respectable family; his
grand-children were men of authority in the city, and a great-grandson
of his died only a few years before Junius wrote, and yet not one of his
friends or descendants made any complaint of the loss which Coster had
sustained both in property and fame. Their apathy, however, was
compensated by the ardour of old Cornelius, who used to shed involuntary
tears whenever the theft was mentioned; and used to heap bitter curses
on the head of the thief as often as he thought of the glory of which
Coster and Harlem had been so villanously deprived. It is certainly very
singular that a person of respectability and authority should be robbed
of his materials and deprived of the honour of the invention, and yet
neither himself nor any one of his kindred publicly denounce the thief;
more especially as the place where he had established himself was known,
and where in conjunction with others he had the frontless audacity to
claim the honour of the invention.

Of Lawrence Coster, his invention, and his loss, the world knew nothing
until he had been nearly a hundred and fifty years in his grave. The
presumed writer of the account which had to do justice to his memory had
been also twelve years dead when his book was published. His
information, which he received when he was a boy, was derived from an
old man who when a boy had heard it from another old man who lived with
Coster at the time of the robbery, and who had heard the account of the
invention from his master. Such is the list of the Harlem witnesses. If
Junius had produced any evidence on the authority of Coster’s
great-grandson that any of his predecessors--his father or his
grandfather--had carried on the business of a printer at Harlem, this
might in part have corroborated the narrative of Cornelius; but, though
subsequent advocates of the claims of Harlem have asserted that Coster’s
grand-children continued the printing business, no book or document has
been discovered to establish the fact.

The account of Cornelius involves a contradiction which cannot be easily
explained away. If the thief stole the whole or greater part of Coster’s
printing materials,--types and press and all, as the narrative seems to
imply,--it is difficult to conceive how he could do so without being
discovered, even though the time chosen were Christmas Eve; for on an
occasion when all or most people were engaged at their devotions, the
fact of two persons being employed would in itself be a suspicious
circumstance: a tenant with a small stock of furniture who wished to
make a “moonlight flitting” would most likely be stopped if he attempted
to remove his goods on a Sunday night. As the dishonest workman had an
assistant, who is rather unaccountably called “_the_ thief,” it is
evident from this circumstance, as well as from the express words of the
narrative,[III-67] that the quantity of materials stolen must have been
considerable. If, on the contrary, the thief only carried away a portion
of the types and matrices, with a few other instruments,--“all that
could be moved without manifest danger of immediate detection,” to use
the words of Mr. Ottley,--what was there to prevent Coster from
continuing the business of printing? Did he give up the lucrative trade
which he had established, and disappoint his numerous customers, because
a dishonest workman had stolen a few of his types? But even if every
letter and matrice had been stolen,--though how likely this is to be
true I shall leave every one conversant with typography to decide,--was
the loss irreparable, and could this “shrewd and ingenious man” not
reconstruct the types and other printing materials which he had
originally contrived?

    [Footnote III-67: “Choragium omne typorum involat, instrumentorum
    herilium ei artificio comparatorum suppelectilem convasat, deinde
    _cum fure_ domo se proripit.”--H. Junii Batavia, p. 255.]

If the business of Coster was continued uninterruptedly, and after his
death carried on by his grand-children, we might naturally expect that
some of the works which they printed could be produced, and that some
record of their having practised such an art at Harlem would be in
existence. The records of Harlem are however silent on the subject; no
mention is made by any contemporary author, nor in any contemporary
document, of Coster or his descendants as printers in that city; and no
book printed by them has been discovered except by persons who decide
upon the subject as if they were endowed with the faculty of intuitive
discrimination. If Coster’s business had been suspended in consequence
of the robbery, his customers, from all parts, who eagerly purchased the
“new commodity,” must have been aware of the circumstance; and to
suppose that it should not have been mentioned by some old writer, and
that the claims of Coster should have lain dormant for a century and a
half, exceeds my powers of belief. Where pretended truth can only be
perceived by closing the eyes of reason I am content to remain ignorant;
nor do I wish to trust myself to the unsafe bridge of conjecture--a
rotten plank without a hand-rail,--

  “O’er which lame faith leads understanding blind.”

If all Coster’s types had been stolen and he had not supplied himself
with new ones, it would be difficult to account for the wine vessels
which were cast from the old types; and if he or his heirs continued to
print subsequent to the robbery, all that his advocates had to complain
of was the theft. For since it must have been well known that he had
discovered and practised the art, at least ten years previous to its
known establishment at Mentz, and seventeen years before a book appeared
with the name of the printers claiming the honour of the invention, the
greatest injury which he received must have been from his fellow
citizens; who perversely and wilfully would not recollect his previous
discovery and do justice to his claims. Even supposing that a thief had
stolen the whole of Coster’s printing-materials, types, chases, and
presses, it by no means follows that he deprived of their memory not
only all the citizens of Harlem, but all Coster’s customers who came
from other places[III-68] to purchase the “new commodity” which his
press supplied. Such however must have been the consequences of the
robbery, if the narrative of Cornelius were true; for except himself no
person seems to have remembered Coster’s invention, or that either he or
his immediate descendants had ever printed a single book.

    [Footnote III-68: “. . . . . quum nova merx, nunquam antea visa,
    emptores undique exciret cum huberrimo questu.”--Junii Batavia.]

Notwithstanding the internal evidence of the improbability of
Cornelius’s account of Coster and his invention, its claims to
credibility are still further weakened by those persons who have shown
themselves most wishful to establish its truth. Lawrence Janszoon, whom
Meerman and others suppose to have been the person described by
Cornelius as the inventor of printing, appears to have been custos of
the church of St. Bavon at Harlem in the years 1423, 1426, 1432 and
1433. His death is placed by Meerman in 1440; and as, according to the
narrative of Cornelius, the types and other printing materials were
stolen on Christmas eve 1441, the inventor of typography must have been
in his grave at the time the robbery was committed. Cornelius must have
known of his master’s death, and yet in his account of the robbery he
makes no mention of Coster being dead at the time, nor of the business
being carried on by his descendants after his decease. It was at one
time supposed that Coster died of grief on the loss of his types, and on
account of the thief claiming the honour of the invention. But this it
seems is a mistake; he was dead according to Meerman at the time of the
robbery, and the business was carried on by his grandchildren.

Koning has discovered that Cornelius the bookbinder died in 1522, aged
at least ninety years. Allowing him to have been ninety-two, this
assistant in Coster’s printing establishment, and who learnt the account
of the invention and improvement of the art from Coster himself, must
have been just ten years old when his master died; and yet upon the
improbable and uncorroborated testimony of this person are the claims of
Coster founded.

Lehne, in his “Chronology of the Harlem fiction,”[III-69] thus remarks
on the authorities, Galius, and Talesius, referred to by Junius as
evidences of its truth. As Cornelius was upwards of eighty when he
related the story to Nicholas Galius, who was then a boy, this must have
happened about 1510. The boy Galius we will suppose to have been at that
time about fifteen years old: Junius was born in 1511, and we will
suppose that he was under the care of Nicholas Galius, the instructor of
his youth, until he was fifteen; that is, until 1526. In this year
Galius, the man venerable from his grey hairs, would be only thirty-six
years old, an age at which grey hairs are premature. Grey hairs are only
venerable in old age, and it is not usual to praise a young man’s
faculty of recollection in the style in which Junius lauds the “iron
memory” of his teacher. Talesius, as Koning states, was born in 1505,
and consequently six years older than Junius; and on the death of
Cornelius, in 1522, he would be seventeen, and Junius eleven years old.
Junius might in his eleventh year have heard the whole account from
Cornelius himself in the same manner as the latter when only ten must
have heard it from Coster; and it is remarkable that Galius who was so
well acquainted with Cornelius did not afford his pupil the opportunity.
We thus perceive that in the whole of this affair children and old men
play the principal parts, and both ages are proverbially addicted to
narratives which savour of the marvellous.

    [Footnote III-69: In “Einige Bemerkungen über das Unternehmen der
    gelehrten Gesellschaft zu Harlem,” &c. S. 31.]

Meerman, writing to his correspondent Wagenaar in 1757, expresses his
utter disbelief in the story of Coster being the inventor of typography,
which, he observes, was daily losing credit: whatever historical
evidence Seiz had brought forward in favour of Coster was gratuitously
assumed; in short, the whole story of the invention was a
fiction.[III-70] After the publication of Schœpflin’s Vindiciæ
Typographicæ in 1760, giving proofs of Gutemberg having been engaged in
1438 with some invention relating to _printing_, and in which a _press_
was employed, Meerman appears to have received a new light; for in 1765
he published his own work in support of the very story which he had
previously declared to be undeserving of credit. The mere change,
however, of a writer’s opinions cannot alter the immutable character of
truth; and the guesses and assumptions with which he may endeavour to
gloss a fiction can never give to it the solidity of fact. What he has
said of the work of Seiz in support of Coster’s claims may with equal
truth be applied to his own arguments in the same cause: “Whatever
historical evidence he has brought forward in favour of Coster has been
gratuitously assumed.” Meerman’s work, like the story which it was
written to support, “is daily losing credit.” It is a dangerous book for
an advocate of Coster to quote; for he has scarcely advanced an argument
in favour of Coster, and in proof of his stolen types being the
foundation of typography at Mentz, but what is contradicted by a
positive fact.

    [Footnote III-70: Santander has published a French translation of
    this letter in his Dictionnaire Bibliographique, tom. i. pp.

In order to make the documentary evidence produced by Schœpflin in
favour of Gutemberg in some degree correspond with the story of
Cornelius, Junius’s authority, he has assumed that Gutemberg had an
elder brother also called John; and that he was known as Gænsfleisch
the elder, while his younger brother was called by way of
distinction Gutemberg. In support of this assumption he refers
to Wimpheling,[III-71] who in one place has called the inventor
Gænsfleisch, and in another Gutemberg; and he also supposes that the two
epitaphs which have been given at page 144, relate to two different
persons. The first, inscribed by Adam Gelthaus to the memory of John
_Gænsfleisch_, he concludes to have been intended for the elder brother.
The second, inscribed by Ivo Wittich to the memory of John _Gutemberg_,
he supposes to relate to the younger brother, and to have been erected
from a feeling of envy. The fact of Gutemberg being also named
Gænsfleisch in several contemporary documents, is not allowed to stand
in the way of Meerman’s hypothesis of the two “brother Johns,” which has
been supposed to be corroborated by the fact of a John Gænsfleisch the
Elder being actually the contemporary of John Gænsfleisch called also

    [Footnote III-71: Wimpheling, who was born at Sletstadt in 1451,
    thus addresses the inventor of printing,--whose name, Gænsfleisch,
    he Latinises “Ansicarus,”--in an epigram printed at the end of
    “Memoriæ Marsilii ab Inghen,” 4to. 1499.

      “Felix _Ansicare_, per te Germania felix
        Omnibus in terris præmia laudis habet.
      Urbe Moguntina, divino fulte Joannes
        Ingenio, primus imprimis ære notas.
      Multum Relligio, multum tibi Græca sophia,
        Et multum debet lingua Latina.”

    In his “Epitome Rerum Germanicarum,” 1502, he says that the art of
    printing was discovered at Strasburg in 1440 by a native of that
    city, who afterwards removing to Mentz there perfected the art. In
    his “Episcoporum Argentinensium Catalogus,” 1508, he says that
    printing was invented by a native of Strasburg, and that when the
    inventor had joined some other persons engaged on the same
    invention at Mentz, the art was there perfected by one John
    Gænsfleisch, who was blind through age, in the house called
    Gutemberg, in which, in 1508, the College of Justice held its
    sittings. Wimpheling does not seem to have known that Gænsfleisch
    was also called Gutemberg, and that his first attempts at printing
    were made in Strasburg.]

Having thus provided Gutemberg with an elder brother also named John,
Meerman proceeds to find him employment; for at the period of his
writing much light had been thrown on the early history of printing, and
no person in the least acquainted with the subject could believe that
Faust was the thief who stole Coster’s types, as had been insinuated by
Junius and affirmed by Boxhorn and Scriverius. Gænsfleisch the Elder is
accordingly sent by Meerman to Harlem, and there engaged as a workman in
Lawrence Coster’s printing office. It is needless to ask if there be any
proof of this: Meerman having introduced a new character into the Harlem
farce may claim the right of employing him as he pleases. As there is
evidence of Gutemberg, or Gænsfleisch the Younger, being engaged at
Strasburg about 1436 in some experiments connected with printing, and
mention being made in the same documents of the fair of Aix-la-Chapelle,
Meerman sends him there in 1435. From Aix-la-Chapelle, as the distance
is not very great, Meerman makes him pay a visit to his elder brother,
then working as a printer in Coster’s office at Harlem. He thus has an
opportunity of seeing Coster’s printing establishment, and of gaining
some information respecting the art, and hence his attempts at printing
at Strasburg in 1436. In 1441 he supposes that John Gænsfleisch the
Elder stole his master’s types, and printed with them, at Mentz, in
1442, “Alexandri Galli Doctrinale,” and “Petri Hispani Tractatus,” as
related by Junius. As this trumpery story rests solely on the conjecture
of the writer, it might be briefly dismissed for reconsideration when
the proofs should be produced; but as Heineken[III-72] has afforded the
means of showing its utter falsity, it may perhaps be worth while to
notice some of the facts produced by him respecting the family and
proceedings of Gutemberg.

    [Footnote III-72: Nachrichten von Kunstlern und Kunst-Sachen, 1te.
    Theil, S. 286-293.]

John Gænsfleisch the Elder, whom Meerman makes Gutemberg’s elder
brother, was descended from a branch of the numerous family of
Gænsfleisch, which was also known by the local names of zum Jungen,
Gutenberg or Gutemberg, and Sorgenloch. This person, whom Meerman
engages as a workman with Coster, was a man of property; and at the time
that we are given to understand he was residing at Harlem, we have
evidence of his being married and having children born to him at Mentz.
This objection, however, could easily be answered by the ingenuity of a
Dutch commentator, who, as he has made the husband a thief, would find
no difficulty in providing him with a suitable wife. He would also be
very likely to bring forward the presumed misconduct of the wife in
support of his hypothesis of the husband being a thief. John Gænsfleisch
the Elder was married to Ketgin, daughter of Nicholas Jostenhofer of
Schenkenberg, on the Thursday after St. Agnes’s day, 1437. In 1439 his
wife bore him a son named Michael; and in 1442 another son, who died in
infancy. In 1441 we have evidence of his residing at Mentz; for in that
year his relation Rudiger zum Landeck appeared before a judge to give
Gænsfleisch an acknowledgment of his having properly discharged his
duties as trustee, and of his having delivered up to the said Rudiger
the property left to him by his father and mother.

That John Gænsfleisch the Elder printed “Alexandri Galli Doctrinale,”
and “Petri Hispani Tractatus,” at Mentz in 1442 with the types which he
had stolen from Coster, is as improbable as every other part of the
story. There is, in fact, not the slightest reason to believe that the
works in question were printed at Mentz in 1442, or that any book was
printed there with types until nearly eight years after that period. In
opposition, however, to a host of historical evidence we have the
assertion of Cornelius, who told the tale to Galius, who told it to
Junius, who told it to the world.

Meerman’s web of sophistry and fiction having been brushed away by
Heineken, a modern advocate of Coster’s undertook to spin another, which
has also been swept down by a German critic. Jacobus Koning,[III-73]
town-clerk of Amsterdam, having learnt from a document printed by
Fischer, that Gutemberg had a brother named Friele, sends him to Harlem
to work with Coster, and makes him the thief who stole the types; thus
copying Meerman’s plot, and merely substituting Gutemberg’s known
brother for John Gænsfleisch the Elder. On this attempt of Koning’s to
make the old sieve hold water by plastering it with his own mud,
Lehne[III-74] makes the following remarks:--

“He gives up the name of John,--although it might be supposed that old
Cornelius would have known the name of his bedfellow better than
Koning,--and without hesitation charges Gutemberg’s brother with the
theft. In order to flatter the vain-glory of the Harlemers, poor Friele,
after he had been nearly four hundred years in his grave, is publicly
accused of robbery on no other ground than that Mynheer Koning had
occasion for a thief. It is, however, rather unfortunate for the credit
of the story that this Friele should have been the founder of one of the
first families in Mentz, of the order of knighthood, and possessed of
great property both in the city and the neighbourhood. Is it likely that
this person should have been engaged as a workman in the employment of
the Harlem churchwarden, and that he should have robbed him of his types
in order to convey them to his brother, who then lived at Strasburg, and
who had been engaged in his own invention at least three years before,
as is proved by the process between him and the Drytzehns published by
Schœpflin? From this specimen of insulting and unjust accusation on a
subject of literary inquiry, we may congratulate the city of Amsterdam
that Mynheer Koning is but a law-writer and not a judge, should he be
not more just as a man than as an author.”

    [Footnote III-73: In a Memoir on the Invention of Printing, which
    was crowned by the Academy of Sciences at Harlem in 1816.]

    [Footnote III-74: Einige Bemerkungen, &c. S. 18, 19.]

In a book of old accounts belonging to the city of Harlem, and extending
from April 1439 to April 1440, Koning having discovered at least nine
entries of expenses incurred on account of messengers despatched to the
Justice-Court of Amsterdam, he concludes that there must have been some
conference between the judges of Harlem and Amsterdam on the subject of
Coster’s robbery. There is not a word mentioned in the entries on what
account the messengers were despatched, but he decides that it must have
been on some business connected with this robbery, for the first
messenger was despatched on the last day of the Christmas holidays; and
the thief, according to the account of Junius, made choice of
Christmas-eve as the most likely opportunity for effecting his purpose.
To this most logical conclusion there happens to be an objection, which
however Mynheer Koning readily disposes of. The first messenger was
despatched on the last day of the Christmas holidays 1439, and the
accounts terminate in April 1440; but according to the narrative of
Cornelius the robbery was committed on Christmas-eve 1441. This trifling
discrepancy is however easily accounted for by the fact of the Dutch at
that period reckoning the commencement of the year from Easter, and by
supposing,--as the date is printed in numerals,--that Junius might have
written 1442, instead of 1441, as the time when the two books appeared
at Mentz printed with the stolen types, and within a year after the
robbery. Notwithstanding this _satisfactory_ explanation there still
remains a trifling error to be rectified, and it will doubtless give the
clear-headed advocate of Coster very little trouble. Admitting that the
accounts are for the year commencing at Easter 1440 and ending at Easter
1441, it is rather difficult to comprehend how they should contain any
notice of an event which happened at the Christmas following. The Harlem
scribe possibly might have the gift of seeing into futurity as clearly
as Mynheer Koning has the gift of seeing into the past. The arguments
derived from paper-marks which Koning has advanced in favour of Coster
are not worthy of serious notice.

He has found, as Meerman did before him, that one Lawrence Janszoon was
living in Harlem between 1420 and 1436, and that his name occurs within
that period as custos or warden of St. Bavon’s church. As he is never
called “Coster,” a name acquired by the family, according to Junius, in
consequence of the office which they enjoyed by hereditary right, the
identity of Lawrence Janszoon and Lawrence Coster is by no means clearly
established; and even if it were, the sole evidence of his having been a
printer rests on the testimony of Cornelius, who was scarcely ten years
old when Lawrence Janszoon died. The correctness of Cornelius’s
narrative is questioned both by Meerman and Koning whenever his
statements do not accord with their theory, and yet they require others
to believe the most incredible of his assertions. They themselves throw
doubts on the evidence of their own witness, and yet require their
opponents to receive as true his deposition on the most important point
in dispute---that Coster invented typography previous to 1441,--a point
on which he is positively contradicted by more than twenty authors who
wrote previous to 1500; and negatively by the silence of Coster’s
contemporaries. Supposing that the account of Cornelius had been
published in 1488 instead of 1588, it would be of very little weight
unless corroborated by the testimony of others who must have been as
well aware of Coster’s invention as himself; for the silence of
contemporary writers on the subject of an important invention or
memorable event, will always be of greater negative authority than the
unsupported assertion of an individual who when an old man professes to
relate what he had heard and seen when a boy. If therefore the
uncorroborated testimony of Cornelius would be so little worth, even if
published in 1488, of what value can it be printed in 1588, in the name
of a person who was then dead, and who could not be called on to explain
the discrepancies of his part of the narrative? Whatever might be the
original value of Cornelius’s testimony, it is deteriorated by the
channel through which it descends to us. He told it to a boy, who, when
an old man, told it to another boy, who when nearly sixty years old
inserts it in a book which he is writing, but which is not printed until
twelve years after his death.

It is singular how Mr. Ottley, who contends for the truth of Papillon’s
story of the Cunio, and who maintains that the art of engraving figures
and text upon wood was well known and practised previous to 1285, should
believe the account given by Cornelius of the origin of Coster’s
invention. If he does not believe this part of the account, with what
consistency can he require other people to give credit to the rest? With
respect to the origin and progress of the invention, Cornelius was as
likely to be correctly informed as he was with regard to the theft and
the establishment of printing at Mentz; if therefore Coster’s advocates
themselves establish the incorrectness of his testimony in the first
part of the story, they destroy the general credibility of his evidence.

With respect to the fragments of “Alexandri Galli Doctrinale” and
“Catonis Disticha” which have been discovered, printed with the same, or
similar types as the Speculum Salvationis, no good argument can be
founded on them in support of Coster’s claims, although the facts which
they establish are decisive of the fallacy of Meerman’s assumptions. In
order to suit his own theory, he was pleased to assert that the first
edition of the Speculum was the only one of that book printed by Coster,
and that it was printed with wooden types. Mr. Ottley has, however,
shown that the edition which Meerman and others supposed to be the first
was in reality the second; and that the presumed second was
unquestionably the first, and that the text was throughout printed with
metal types by means of a press. It is thus the fate of all Coster’s
advocates that the last should always produce some fact directly
contradicting his predecessors’ speculations, but not one confirmatory
of the truth of the story on which all their arguments are based.
Meerman questions the accuracy of Cornelius as reported by Junius;
Meerman’s arguments are rejected by Koning; and Mr. Ottley, who espouses
the same cause, has from his diligent collation of two different
editions of the Speculum afforded a convincing proof that on a most
material point all his predecessors are wrong. His inquiries have
established beyond a doubt, that the text of the first edition of the
Speculum was printed wholly with metal types; and that in the second the
text was printed partly from metal types by means of a press, and partly
from wood-blocks by means of friction. The assertion that Coster printed
the first edition with wooden types, and that his grandsons and
successors printed the second edition with types of metal, is thus most
clearly refuted. As no printer’s name has been discovered in any of the
fragments referred to, it is uncertain where or when they were printed.
It however seems more likely that they were printed in Holland or the
Low Countries than in Germany. The presumption of their antiquity in
consequence of their rarity is not a good ground of argument. Of an
edition of a “Donatus,” printed by Sweinheim and Pannartz, between 1465
and 1470, and consisting of three hundred copies, not one is known to
exist. From sundry fragments of a “Donatus,” embellished with the same
ornamented small capitals as are used in Faust and Scheffer’s Psalter,
Fischer was pleased to conjecture that the book had been printed by
Gutemberg and Faust previous to 1455. A copy, however, has been
discovered bearing the imprint of Scheffer, and printed, in all
probability, subsequent to 1467, as it is in this year that Scheffer’s
name first appears alone. The “Historia Alexandri Magni,” pretendedly
printed with wooden types, and ascribed by Meerman to Coster, was
printed by Ketelar and Leempt, who first established a printing-office
at Utrecht in 1473.

John Enschedius, a letter-founder and printer of Harlem, and a strenuous
assertor of Coster’s pretensions, discovered a very curious specimen of
typography which he and others have supposed to be the identical “short
sentences” mentioned by Junius as having been printed by Coster for the
instruction of his grand-children. This unique specimen of typography
consists of eight small pages, each being about one inch and six-eighths
high, by one and five-eighths wide, printed on parchment and on both
sides. The contents are an alphabet; the Lord’s Prayer; the Creed; the
Ave Mary; and two short prayers, all in Latin. Meerman has given a
fac-simile of all the eight pages in the second volume of his “Origines
Typographicæ;”[III-75] and if this be correct, I am strongly inclined to
suspect that this singular “Horarium” is a modern forgery. The letters
are rudely formed, and the shape of some of the pages is irregular; but
the whole appears to me rather as an imitation of rudeness and a studied
irregularity, than as the first essay of an inventor. There are very few
contractions in the words; and though the letters are rudely formed, and
there are no points, yet I have seen no early specimen of typography
which is so easy to read. It is apparent that the printer, whoever he
might be, did not forget that the little manual was intended for
children. The letters I am positive could not be thus printed with types
formed of beech-bark; and I am further of opinion that they were not,
and could not be, printed with moveable types of wood. I am also certain
that, whatever might be the material of which the types were formed,
those letters could only be printed on parchment on both sides by means
of a press. The most strenuous of Coster’s advocates have not ventured
to assert that he was acquainted with the use of metal types in 1423,
the pretended date of his first printing short sentences for the use of
his grand-children, nor have any of them suggested that he used a press
for the purpose of obtaining impressions from his letters of beech-bark;
how then can it be pretended with any degree of consistency that this
“Horarium” agrees exactly with the description of Cornelius? It is said
that Enschedius discovered this singular specimen of typography pasted
in the cover of an old book. It is certainly such a one as he was most
wishful to find, and which he in his capacity of typefounder and printer
would find little difficulty in producing. I am firmly convinced that it
is neither printed with wooden types nor a specimen of early typography;
on the contrary, I suspect it to be a Dutch typographic essay on popular

    [Footnote III-75: Enschedius published a fac-simile himself, with
    the following title: “Afbeelding van ’t A. B. C. ’t Pater Noster,
    Ave Maria, ’t Credo, en Ave Salus Mundi, door Laurens Janszoon, te
    Haarlem, ten behoeven van zyne dochters Kinderen, met beweegbaare
    Letteren gedrukt, en teffens aangeweesen de groote der Stukjes
    pergament, zekerlyk ’t oudste overblyfsel der eerste Boekdrukkery,
    ’t welk als zulk een eersteling der Konst bewaard word en berust
    in de Boekery van _Joannes Enschedé_, Lettergieter en Boekdrukker
    te Haarlem, 1768.--_A. J. Polak sculps. ex originali._”]

Of all the works which have been claimed for Coster, his advocates have
not succeeded in making out his title to a single one; and the best
evidence of the fallacy of his claims is to be found in the writings of
those persons by whom they have been most confidently asserted. Having
no theory of my own to support, and having no predilection in favour of
Gutemberg, I was long inclined to think that there might be some
rational foundation for the claims which have been so confidently
advanced in favour of Harlem. An examination, however, of the presumed
proofs and arguments adduced by Coster’s advocates has convinced me that
the claims put forward on his behalf, as the inventor of typography, are
untenable. They have certainly discovered that a person of the name of
Lawrence Janszoon was living at Harlem between the years 1420 and 1440,
but they have not been able to show anything in proof of this person
ever having printed any book either from wood-blocks or with moveable
types. There is indeed reason to believe that at the period referred to
there were three persons of the name of Lawrence Janszoon,--or
Fitz-John, as the surname may be rendered;--but to which of them the
pretended invention is to be ascribed is a matter of doubt. At one time
we find the inventor described as an illegitimate scion of the noble
family of Brederode, which was descended from the ancient sovereigns of
Holland; at another he is said to have been called Coster in consequence
of the office of custos or warden of St. Bavon’s church being hereditary
in his family; and in a third account we find Lawrence Janszoon figuring
as a promoter of sedition and one of the leaders of a body of rioters.
The advocates for the claims of Harlem have brought forward every
Lawrence that they could find at that period whose father’s name was
John; as if the more they could produce the more conclusive would be the
_proof_ of one of them at least being the inventor of printing. As the
books which are ascribed to Coster furnish positive evidence of the
incorrectness of the story of Cornelius and of the comments of Meerman;
and as records, which are now matters of history, prove that neither
Gutemberg nor Faust stole any types from Coster or his descendants, the
next supporter of the claims of Harlem will have to begin _de novo_; and
lest the palm should be awarded to the wrong Lawrence Janszoon, he ought
first to ascertain which of them is really the hero of the old
bookbinder’s tale.




  Faust and Scheffer’s Psalter of 1457 -- Printing at Bamberg in 1461
  -- Books Containing Wood-Cuts Printed there by Albert Pfister --
  Opposition of the Wood Engravers of Augsburg to the Earliest
  Printers Established in that City -- Travelling Printers --
  Wood-Cuts in “Meditationes Johannis De Turre-Cremata,” Rome, 1467;
  and in “Valturius De Re Militari,” Verona, 1472 -- Wood-Cuts
  Frequent in Books Printed at Augsburg Between 1474 and 1480 --
  Wood-Cuts in Books Printed by Caxton -- Maps Engraved on Wood, 1482
  -- Progress of Map Engraving -- Cross-Hatching -- Flowered Borders
  -- Hortus Sanitatis -- Nuremberg Chronicle -- Wood Engraving in
  Italy -- Poliphili Hypnerotomachia -- Decline of Block-Printing --
  Old Wood-Cuts in Derschau’s Collection.

Considering Gutemberg as the inventor of printing with moveable types;
that his first attempts were made at Strasburg about 1436; and that with
Faust’s money and Scheffer’s ingenuity the art was perfected at Mentz
about 1452, I shall now proceed to trace the progress of wood engraving
in its connexion with the press.

In the first book which appeared with a date and the printers’
names--the Psalter printed by Faust and Scheffer, at Mentz, in 1457--the
large initial letters, engraved on wood and printed in red and blue ink,
are the must beautiful specimens of this kind of ornament which the
united efforts of the wood-engraver and the pressman have produced. They
have been imitated in modern times, but not excelled. As they are the
first letters, in point of time, printed with two colours, so are they
likely to continue the first in point of excellence.

Only seven copies of the Psalter of 1457 are known, and they are all
printed on vellum. Although they have all the same colophon, containing
the printers’ names and the date, yet no two copies exactly correspond.
A similar want of agreement is said to have been observed in different
copies of the Mazarine Bible, but which are, notwithstanding, of one and
the same edition. As such works would in the infancy of the art be a
long time in printing--more especially the Psalter, as, in consequence
of the large capitals being printed in two colours, each side of many of
the sheets would have to be printed thrice--it can be a matter of no
surprise that alterations and amendments should be made in the text
while the work was going through the press. In the Mazarine Bible, the
entire Book of Psalms, which contains a considerable number of red
letters, would have to pass four times through the press, including what
printers call the “reiteration.”[IV-1]

    [Footnote IV-1: By the common press only one side of a sheet can
    be printed at once. The reiteration is the second printing of the
    same sheet on the blank side. Thus in the Psalter of 1457 every
    sheet containing letters of two colours on each side would have to
    pass six times through the press. It was probably in consequence
    of printing so much in red and black that the early printers used
    to employ so many presses. Melchior de Stamham, abbot of St. Ulric
    and St. Afra at Augsburg, and who established a printing-office
    within that monastery, about 1472, bought five presses of John
    Schüssler; a considerable number for what may be considered an
    amateur establishment. He also had two others made by Sixtus
    Saurloch.--Zapf, Annales Typographicæ Augustanæ, p. xxiv.]

The largest of the ornamented capitals in the Psalter of 1457 is the
letter B, which stands at the commencement of the first psalm, “Beatus
vir.” The letters which are next in size are an A, a C, a D, an E, and a
P; and there are also others of a smaller size, similarly ornamented,
and printed in two colours in the same manner as the larger ones.
Although only two colours are used to each letter, yet when the same
letter is repeated a variety is introduced by alternating the colours:
for instance, the shape of the letter is in one page printed red, with
the ornamental portions blue; and in another the shape of the letter is
blue, and the ornamental portions red. It has been erroneously stated by
Papillon that the large letters at the beginning of each psalm are
printed in three colours, red, blue, and purple; and Lambinet has copied
the mistake. A second edition of this Psalter appeared in 1459; a third
in 1490; and a fourth in 1502, all in folio, like the first, and with
the same ornamented capitals. Heineken observes that in the edition of
1490 the large letters are printed in red and green instead of red and

In consequence of those large letters being printed in two colours, two
blocks would necessarily be required for each; one for that portion of
the letter which is red, and another for that which is blue. In the
body, or shape, of the largest letter, the B at the beginning of the
first psalm, the mass of colour is relieved by certain figures being cut
out in the block, which appear white in the impression. On the stem of
the letter a dog like a greyhound is seen chasing a bird; and flowers
and ears of corn are represented on the curved portions. These figures
being white, or the colour of the vellum, give additional brightness to
the full-bodied red by which they are surrounded, and materially add to
the beauty and effect of the whole letter.

In consequence of two blocks being required for each letter, the means
were afforded of printing any of them twice in the same sheet or the
same page with alternate colours; for while the body of the first was
printed in red from one block, the ornamental portion of the second
might be printed red at the same time from the other block. In the
second printing, with the blue colour, it would only be necessary to
transpose the blocks, and thus the two letters would be completed,
identical in shape and ornament, and differing only from the
corresponding portions being in the one letter printed red and in the
other blue. In the edition of 1459 the same ornamented letter is to be
found repeated on the same page; but of this I have only noticed one
instance; though there are several examples of the same letter being
printed twice in the same sheet.

Although the engraving of the most highly ornamented and largest of
those letters cannot be considered as an extraordinary instance of
skill, even at that period, for many wood-cuts of an earlier date afford
proof of greater excellence, yet the artist by whom the blocks were
engraved must have had considerable practice. The whole of the
ornamental part, which would be the most difficult to execute, is
clearly and evenly cut, and in some places with great neatness and
delicacy. “This letter,” says Heineken, “is an authentic testimony that
the artists employed on such a work were persons trained up and
exercised in their profession. The art of wood engraving was no longer
in its cradle.”

The name of the artist by whom those letters were engraved is unknown.
In Sebastian Munster’s Cosmography, book iii. chapter 159, John
Meydenbach is mentioned as being one of Gutemberg’s assistants; and an
anonymous writer in Serarius states the same fact. Heineken in noticing
these two passages writes to the following effect. “This Meydenbach is
doubtless the same person who proceeded with Gutemberg from Strasburg to
Mentz in 1444.[IV-2] It is probable that he was a wood engraver or an
illuminator, but this is not certain; and it is still more uncertain
that this person engraved the cuts in a book entitled _Apocalipsis cum
figuris_, printed at Strasburg in 1502, because these are copied from
the cuts in the Apocalypse engraved and printed by Albert Durer at
Nuremberg. Whether this copyist was the _Jacobus Meydenbach_ who printed
books at Mentz in 1491,[IV-3] or he was some other engraver, I have not
been able to determine.”[IV-4]

    [Footnote IV-2: Heineken in his Nachrichten, T. I. S. 108, also
    states that Meydenbach came from Strasburg with Gutemberg. Oberlin
    however observes, “Je ne sais où de Heinecke a trouvè que ce
    Meydenbach est venu en 1444 avec Gutenberg à Mayence.” Heineken
    says, “In der Nachricht von Strassburg findet man dass ein
    gewisser Meydenbach 1444 nach Maynz gezogen,” and refers to
    Fournier, p. 40. Dissert sur l’Orig. de l’Imprimerie primitive.]

    [Footnote IV-3: An edition of the Hortus Sanitatis with wood-cuts
    was printed at Mentz, by _Jacobus Meydenbach_, in 1491.]

    [Footnote IV-4: Idée Générale, p. 286.]

Although so little is positively known respecting John Meydenbach,
Gutemberg’s assistant, yet Von Murr thinks that there is reason to
suppose that he was the artist who engraved the large initial letters
for the Psalter of 1457. Fischer, who declares that there is no
sufficient grounds for this conjecture, confidently assumes, from false
premises, that those letters were engraved by Gutemberg, “a person
experienced in such work,” adds he, “as we are taught by his residence
at Strasburg.” From the account that we have of his residence and
pursuits at Strasburg, however, we are taught no such thing. We only
learn from it he was engaged in some invention which related to
printing. We learn that Conrad Saspach made him a press, and it is
conjectured that the goldsmith Hanns Dunne was employed to engrave his
letters; but there is not a word of his being an experienced wood
engraver, nor is there a well authenticated passage in any account of
his life from which it might be concluded that he ever engraved a single
letter. Fischer’s reasons for supposing that Gutemberg engraved the
large letters in Faust and Scheffer’s Psalter are, however, contradicted
by facts. Having seen a few leaves of a Donatus ornamented with the same
initial letters as the Psalter, he directly concluded that the former
was printed by Gutemberg and Faust prior to the dissolution of their
partnership; and not satisfied with this leap he takes another, and
arrives at the conclusion that they were engraved by Gutemberg, as
“_his_ modesty only could allow such works to appear without his name.”

Although we have no information respecting the artist by whom those
letters were engraved, yet it is not unlikely that they were suggested,
if not actually drawn by Scheffer, who, from his profession of a scribe
or writer[IV-5] previous to his connexion with Faust, may be supposed to
have been well acquainted with the various kinds of flowered and
ornamented capitals with which manuscripts of that and preceding
centuries were embellished. It is not unusual to find manuscripts of the
early part of the fifteenth century embellished with capitals of two
colours, red and blue, in the same taste as in the Psalter; and there is
now lying before me a capital P, drawn on vellum in red and blue ink, in
a manuscript apparently of the date of 1430, which is so like the same
letter in the Psalter that the one might be supposed to have suggested
the other.

    [Footnote IV-5: Scheffer previous to his connexion with Faust was
    a “clericus,”--not a _clerk_ as distinguished from a layman, but a
    writer or scribe. A specimen of his “set-hand,” written at Paris
    in 1449, is given by Schœpflin in his Vindiciæ Typographicæ.
    Several of the earliest printers were writers or illuminators;
    among whom may be mentioned John Mentelin of Strasburg, John
    Baemler of Augsburg, Ulric Zell of Cologne, and Colard Mansion of

It was an object with Faust and Scheffer to recommend their
Psalter--probably the first work printed by them after Gutemberg
had been obliged to withdraw from the partnership--by the beauty
of its capitals and the sufficiency and distinctness of its
“rubrications;”[IV-6] and it is evident that they did not fail in the
attempt. The Psalter of 1457 is, with respect to ornamental printing,
their greatest work; for in no subsequent production of their press
does the typographic art appear to have reached a higher degree of
excellence. It may with truth be said that the art of printing--be
the inventor who he may--was perfected by Faust and Scheffer; for the
earliest known production of their press remains to the present day
unsurpassed as a specimen of skill in ornamental printing.

    [Footnote IV-6: This is intimated in the colophon, which, with the
    contracted words written at length, is as follows: “Presens
    Spalmorum codex venustate capitalium decoratus Rubricationibusque
    sufficienter distinctus. Adinventione artificiosa imprimendi ac
    caracterizandi absque calami ulla exaracione sic effigiatus. Et ad
    eusebiam dei industrie est consummatus. Per Johannem Fust, Civem
    maguntinum. Et Petrum Schoffer de Gernzheim, Anno domini
    Millesimo. cccc. lvii. In vigilia Assumpcionis.” In the second
    edition the mis-spelling, “Spalmorum” for “Psalmorum,” is

A fac-simile of the large B at the commencement of the Psalter, printed
in colours the same as the original, is given in the first volume of
Dibdin’s Bibliotheca Spenceriana, and in Savage’s Hints on Decorative
Printing; but in neither of those works has the excellence of the
original letter been attained. In the Bibliotheca Spenceriana, although
the volume has been printed little more than twenty years, the red
colour in which the body of the letter is printed has assumed a coppery
hue, while in the original, executed nearly four hundred years ago, the
freshness and purity of the colours remain unimpaired. In Savage’s work,
though the letter and its ornaments are faithfully copied[IV-7] and
tolerably well printed, yet the colours are not equal to those of the
original. In the modern copy the blue is too faint; and the red, which
in the original is like well impasted paint, has not sufficient body,
but appears like a wash, through which in many places the white paper
may be seen. The whole letter compared with the original seems like a
water-colour copy compared with a painting in oil.

    [Footnote IV-7: It is to be observed that in Savage’s copy the
    perpendicular flourishes are given horizontally, above and below
    the letter, in order to save room. In a copy of the edition of
    1459, in the King’s Library, part of the lower flourish has not
    been inked, as it would have interfered with the letter Q at the
    commencement of the second psalm “_Quare fremuerunt gentes_.”
    Traces of the flourish where not coloured may be observed
    impressed in the vellum.]

Although it has been generally supposed that the art of printing was
first carried from Mentz in 1462 when Faust and Scheffer’s sworn workmen
were dispersed[IV-8] on the capture of that city by the archbishop
Adolphus of Nassau, yet there can be no doubt that it was practised at
Bamberg before that period; for a book of fables printed at the latter
place by Albert Pfister is expressly dated on St. Valentine’s day, 1461;
and a history of Joseph, Daniel, Judith, and Esther was also printed by
Pfister at Bamberg in 1462, “+Nit lang nach sand walpurgen tag+,”--not
long after St. Walburg’s day.[IV-9] It is therefore certain that the art
was practised beyond Mentz previous to the capture of that city, which
was not taken until the eve of St. Simon and St. Jude; that is, on the
28th of October in 1462. As it is very probable that Pfister would have
to superintend the formation of his own types and the construction of
his own presses,--for none of his types are of the same fount as those
used by Gutemberg or by Faust and Scheffer,--we may presume that he
would be occupied for some considerable time in preparing his materials
and utensils before he could begin to print. As his first known work
with a date, containing a hundred and one wood-cuts, was finished on the
14th of February 1461, it is not unlikely that he might have begun to
make preparations three or four years before. Upon these grounds it
seems but reasonable to conclude with Aretin, that the art was carried
from Mentz by some of Gutemberg and Faust’s workmen on the dissolution
of their partnership in 1455; and that the date of the capture of
Mentz--when for a time all the male inhabitants capable of bearing arms
were compelled to leave the city by the captors--marks the period of its
more general diffusion. The occasion of the disaster to which Mentz was
exposed for nearly three years was a contest for the succession to the
archbishopric. Theodoric von Erpach having died in May 1459, a majority
of the chapter chose Thierry von Isenburg to succeed him, while another
party supported the pretensions of Adolphus of Nassau. An appeal having
been made to Rome, the election of Thierry was annulled, and Adolphus
was declared by the Pope to be the lawful archbishop of Mentz. Thierry,
being in possession and supported by the citizens, refused to resign,
until his rival, assisted by the forces of his adherents and relations,
succeeded in obtaining possession of the city.[IV-10]

    [Footnote IV-8: The following passage occurs in the colophon of
    two works printed by John Scheffer at Mentz in 1515 and 1516; the
    one being the “Trithemii Breviarium Historiæ Francorum,” and the
    other “Breviarium Ecclesiæ Mindensis:” “Retinuerunt autem hi duo
    jam prænominati, _Johannes Fust et Petrus Scheffer_, hanc artem in
    secreto, (omnibus ministris et familiaribus eorum, ne illam quoquo
    modo manifestarent, jure jurando adstrictis :) quæ tandem anno
    Domini M.CCCC.LXII. per eosdem familiares in diversas terrarum
    provincias divulgata, haud parvum sumpsit incrementum.”]

    [Footnote IV-9: St. Walburg’s day is on the 25th of February;
    though her feast is also held both on the 1st of May and on the
    12th of October. The eve of her feast on the 1st of May is more
    particularly celebrated; and it is then that the witches and
    warlocks of Germany hold their annual meeting on the Brocken. St.
    Walburg, though born of royal parents in Saxony, was yet educated
    in England, at the convent of Wimborn in Dorsetshire, of which she
    became afterwards abbess, and where she died in 779.]

    [Footnote IV-10: A mournful account of the expulsion of the
    inhabitants and the plundering of the city is given by Trithemius
    at page 30 of his “Res Gestæ Frederici Palatini,” published with
    notes by Marquard Freher, at Heidelberg, 4to. 1603.]

Until the discovery of Pfister’s book containing the four histories,
most bibliographers supposed that the date 1461, in the fables, related
to the composition of the work or the completion of the manuscript, and
not to the printing of the book. Saubert, who was the first to notice
it, in 1643, describes it as being printed, both text and figures, from
wood-blocks; and Meerman has adopted the same erroneous opinion.
Heineken was the first to describe it truly, as having the text printed
with moveable types, though he expresses himself doubtfully as to the
date, 1461, being that of the impression.

As the discovery of Pfister’s tracts has thrown considerable light on
the progress of typography and wood engraving, I shall give an account
of the most important of them, as connected with those subjects; with a
brief notice of a few circumstances relative to the early connexion of
wood engraving with the press, and to the dispersion of the printers on
the capture of Mentz in 1462.

The discovery of the history of Joseph, Daniel, Judith, and Esther, with
the date 1462, printed at Bamberg by Pfister, has established the fact
that the dates refer to the years in which the books were printed, and
not to the period when the works were composed or transcribed. An
account of the history above named, written by M. J. Steiner, pastor of
the church of St. Ulric at Augsburg, was first printed in Meusel’s
Historical and Literary Magazine in 1792; and a more ample description
of this and other tracts printed by Pfister was published by Camus in
1800,[IV-11] when the volume containing them, which was the identical
one that had been previously seen by Steiner, was deposited in the
National Library at Paris.

    [Footnote IV-11: Under the title of “Notice d’un Livre imprimé à
    Bamberg en CIↃCCCCLXII. lue à l’Institut National, par Camus.”
    4to. Paris, An VII. [1800.]]

The book of fables[IV-12] printed by Pfister at Bamberg in 1461 is a
small folio consisting of twenty-eight leaves, and containing
eighty-five fables in rhyme in the old German language. As those fables,
which are ascribed to one “Boner, dictus der Edelstein,” are known to
have been written previous to 1330, the words at the end of the
volume,--“Zu Bamberg dies Büchlein geendet ist,”--At Bamberg this book
is finished,--most certainly relate to the time when it was printed, and
not when it was written. It is therefore the earliest book printed with
moveable types which is illustrated with wood-cuts containing figures.
Not having an opportunity of seeing this extremely rare book,--of which
only one perfect copy is known,--I am unable to speak from personal
examination of the style in which its hundred and one cuts are engraved.
Heineken, however, has given a fac-simile of the first, and he says that
the others are of a similar kind. The following is a reduced copy of the
fac-simile given by Heineken, and which forms the head-piece to the
first fable. On the manner in which it is engraved I shall make no
remark, until I shall have produced some specimens of the cuts contained
in a “Biblia Pauperum Predicatorum,” also printed by Pfister, and having
the text in the German language.

    [Footnote IV-12: The copy of those fables belonging to the
    Wolfenbuttel Library, and which is the only one known, was taken
    away by the French and placed in the National Library at Paris,
    but was restored on the surrender of Paris in 1815.]


The volume described by Camus contains three different works; and
although Pfister’s name, with the date 1462, appears in only one of
them, the “Four Histories,” yet, as the type is the same in all, there
can be no doubt of the other two being printed by the same person and
about the same period. The following particulars respecting its contents
are derived from the “Notice” of Camus. It is a small folio consisting
altogether of a hundred and one leaves of paper of good quality,
moderately thick and white, and in which the water-mark is an ox’s head.
The text is printed in a large type, called missal-type; and though the
characters are larger, and there is a trifling variation in three or
four of the capitals, yet they evidently appear to have been copied from
those of the Mazarine Bible.

The first work is that which Heineken calls “une Allégorie sur la
Mort;”[IV-13] but this title does not give a just idea of its contents.
It is in fact a collection of accusations preferred against Death, with
his answers to them. The object is to show that such complaints are
unavailing, and that, instead of making them, people ought rather to
employ themselves in endeavouring to live well. In this tract, which
consists of twenty-four leaves, there are five wood-cuts, each occupying
an entire page. The first represents Death seated on a throne. Before
him there is a man with a child, who appears to accuse Death of having
deprived him of his wife, who is seen on a tomb wrapped in a
winding-sheet.--In the second cut, Death is also seen seated on a
throne, with the same person apparently complaining against him, while a
number of persons appear approaching sad and slow, to lay down the
ensigns of their dignity at his feet.--In the third cut there are two
figures of Death; one on foot mows down youths and maidens with a
scythe, while another, mounted, is seen chasing a number of figures on
horseback, at whom he at the same time discharges his arrows.--The
fourth cut consists of two parts, the one above the other. In the upper
part, Death appears seated on a throne, with a person before him in the
act of complaining, as in the first and second cuts. In the lower part,
to the left of the cut, is seen a convent, at the gate of which there
are two persons in religious habits; to the right a garden is
represented, in which are perceived a tree laden with fruit, a woman
crowning an infant, and another woman conversing with a young man. In
the space between the convent and the garden certain signs are engraved,
which Camus thinks are intended to represent various branches of
learning and science,--none of which can afford protection against
death,--as they are treated of in the chapter which precedes the cut. In
the fifth cut, Death and the Complainant are seen before Christ, who is
seated on a throne with an angel on each side of him, under a canopy
ornamented with stars. Although neither Heineken nor Camus give
specimens of those cuts, nor speak of the style in which they are
executed, it may be presumed that they are not superior either in design
or engraving to those contained in the other tracts.

    [Footnote IV-13: Idée Générale, p. 276. Dr. Dibdin in his
    Bibliographical Tour says that this work “is entitled by Camus the
    ALLEGORY OF DEATH.” This is a mistake; for Camus, who objects to
    this title,--which was given to it by Heineken,--always refers to
    the book under the title of “Les Plaintes contre la Mort.”]

The text of the work is divided into thirty-four chapters, each of
which, except the first, is preceded by a summary; and their numbers are
printed in Roman characters. The initial letter of each chapter is red,
and appears to have been formed by means of a stencil. The first
chapter, which has neither title nor numeral, commences with the
Complainant’s recital of his injuries; in the second, Death defends
himself; in the third the Complainant resumes, in the fourth Death
replies; and in this manner the work proceeds, the Complainant and Death
speaking alternately through thirty-two chapters. In the thirty-third,
God decides between the parties; and after a few common-place
reflections and observations on the readiness of people to complain on
all occasions, sentence is pronounced in these words: “The Complainant
is condemned, and Death has gained the cause. Of right, the Life of
every man is due to Death; to Earth his Body, and to Us his Soul.” In
the thirty-fourth chapter, the Complainant, perceiving that he has lost
his suit, proceeds to pray to God on behalf of his deceased wife. In the
summary prefixed to the chapter the reader is informed that he is now
about to peruse a model of a prayer; and that the name of the
Complainant is expressed by the large red letters which are to be found
in the chapter. Accordingly, in the course of the chapter, six red
letters, besides the initial at the beginning, occur at the commencement
of so many different sentences. They are formed by means of a stencil,
while the letters at the commencement of other similar sentences are
printed black. Those red letters, including the initial at the beginning
of the chapter, occur in the following order, IHESANW. Whether the name
is expressed by them as they stand, or whether they are to be combined
in some other manner, Camus will not venture to decide.[IV-14] From the
prayer it appears that the name of the Complainant’s deceased wife was
Margaret. In this singular composition, which in the summary is declared
to be a model, the author, not forgetting the court language of his
native country, calls the Almighty “the Elector who determines the
choice of all Electors,” “Hoffmeister” of the court of Heaven, and
“Herzog” of the Heavenly host. The text is in the German language, such
as was spoken and written in the fifteenth century.

    [Footnote IV-14: “Outre la lettre initiale, on remarque, dans le
    cours du chapitre, six lettres rouges non imprimées, mais peintes
    à la plaque, qui commencent six phrases diverses. Les lettres
    initiales des autres phrases du même chapitre sont imprimées en
    noir. Les lettres rouges sont IHESANW. Doit-on les assembler dans
    l’ordre où elles sont placées, ou bien doivent-elles recevoir un
    autre arrangement? Je ne prends pas sur moi de le
    décider.”--Camus, Notice, p. 6.]

The German words “_Hoffmeister_” and “_Herzog_” appear extremely
ridiculous in Camus’s French translation,--“le Maître-d’hôtel de la cour
céleste,” and “le Grand-duc de l’armée céleste.” But this is clothing
ancient and dignified German in modern French frippery. The word
“Hoffmeister”--literally, “court-master or governor”--is used in modern
German in nearly the same sense as the English word “steward;” and the
governor or tutor of a young prince or nobleman is called by the same
name. The word “Herzog”--the “Grand-duc” of Camus--in its original
signification means the leader of a host or army. It is a German title
of honour which defines its original meaning, and is in modern language
synonymous with the English title “Duke.” The ancient German “Herzog”
was a leader of hosts; the modern French “Grand-duc” is a clean-shaved
gentleman in a court-dress, redolent of eau-de-Cologne, and bedizened
with stars and strings. The two words are characteristic of the two

The second work in the volume is the Histories of Joseph, Daniel,
Judith, and Esther. It has no general frontispiece nor title; but each
separate history commences with the words: “Here begins the history of
. . . .” in German. Each history forms a separate gathering, and the
whole four are contained in sixty leaves, of which two, about the
middle, are blank, although there is no appearance of any deficiency in
the history. The text is accompanied with wood-cuts which are much less
than those in the “Complaints against Death,” each occupying only the
space of eleven lines in a page, which when full contains twenty-eight.
The number of the cuts is sixty-one; but there are only fifty-five
different subjects, four of them having been printed twice, and one
thrice. Camus gives a specimen of one of the cuts, which represents the
Jews of Bethuliah rejoicing and offering sacrifice on the return of
Judith after she had cut off the head of Holofernes. It is certainly a
very indifferent performance, both with respect to design and engraving;
and from Camus’s remarks on the artist’s ignorance and want of taste it
would appear that the others are no better. In one of them Haman is
decorated with the collar of an order from which a cross is suspended;
and in another Jacob is seen travelling to Egypt in a carriage[IV-15]
drawn by two horses, which are harnessed according to the manner of the
fifteenth century, and driven by a postilion seated on a saddle, and
with his feet in stirrups. All the cuts in the “Four Histories” are
coarsely coloured.

    [Footnote IV-15: Camus calls it a “voiture,” but I question if
    such a carriage was known in 1462; and am inclined to think that
    he has converted a kind of light waggon into a modern “voiture.”
    A light sort of waggon, called by Stow a “Wherlicote,” was used in
    England by the mother of Richard the Second in the manner of a
    modern coach. I have noticed in an old wood-cut a light travelling
    waggon, drawn by what is called a “unicorn team” of three horses;
    that is, one as a “leader,” and two “wheelers,” with the driver
    riding on the “near side” wheeler. This cut is in the Bagford
    collection in the British Museum, and is one of a series of ninety
    subjects from the Old and New Testament which have been cut out of
    a book. A manuscript note in German states that they are by
    Michael Wolgemuth, and printed in 1491. In no wood-cut executed
    previous to 1500 have I seen a vehicle like a modern French

It is this work which Camus, in his title-page, professes to give an
account of, although in his tract he describes the other two contained
in the same volume with no less minuteness. He especially announced a
notice of this work as “a book printed at Bamberg in 1462,” in
consequence of its being the most important in the volume; for it
contains not only the date and place, but also the printer’s name. In
the book of Fables, printed with the same types at Bamberg in 1461,
Pfister’s name does not appear.

The text of the “Four Histories” ends at the fourth line on the recto of
the sixtieth leaf; and after a blank space equal to that of a line,
thirteen lines succeed, forming the colophon, and containing the place,
date, and printer’s name. Although those lines run continuously on,
occupying the full width of the page as in prose, yet they consist of
couplets in German rhyme. The end of each verse is marked with a point,
and the first word of the succeeding one begins with a capital. Camus
has given a fac-simile of those lines, that he might at once present his
readers with a specimen of the type and a copy of this colophon, so
interesting to bibliographers as establishing the important fact in the
history of printing, namely, that the art was practised beyond Mentz
prior to 1462. The following copy, though not a fac-simile, is printed
line for line from Camus.

  +Ein ittlich mensch von herzen gert . Das er wer weiss
  und wol gelert . An meister un’ schrift das nit mag
  sein . So kun’ wir all auch nit latein . Darauff han
  ich ein teil gedacht . Und vier historii zu samen pra-
  cht . Joseph daniel un’ auch judith . Und hester auch
  mit gutem sith. die vier het got in seiner hut . Als er
  noch ye de’ guten thut . Dar durch wir pessern unser
  lebe’ . De’ puchlein ist sein ende gebe’ . Tʒu bambergh
  in der selbe’ stat . Das albrecht pfister gedrucket hat
  Do ma’ zalt tausent un’ vierhu’dert iar . Im zwei und
  sechzigste’ das ist war . Nit lang nach sand walpur-
  gen tag . Die uns wol gnad erberben mag . Frid un’
  das ewig lebe’ . Das wolle uns got alle’ gebe’ . Ame’.+

The following is a translation of the above, in English couplets of
similar rhythm and measure as the original:

  With heart’s desire each man doth seek
  That he were wise and learned eke:
  But books and teacher he doth need,
  And all men cannot Latin read.
  As on this subject oft I thought,
  These hist’ries four I therefore wrote;
  Of Joseph, Daniel, Judith too,
  And Esther eke, with purpose true:
  These four did God with bliss requite,
  As he doth all who act upright.
  That men may learn their lives to mend
  This book at Bamberg here I end.
  In the same city, as I’ve hinted,
  It was by Albert Pfister printed,
  In th’ year of grace, I tell you true,
  A thousand four hundred and sixty-two;
  Soon after good St. Walburg’s day,
  Who well may aid us on our way,
  And help us to eternal bliss:
  God, of his mercy, grant us this. Amen.

The third work contained in the volume described by Camus is an edition
of the “Poor Preachers’ Bible,” with the text in German, and printed on
both sides. The number of the leaves is eighteen, of which only
seventeen are printed; and as there is a “history” on each page, the
total number in the work is thirty-four, each of which is illustrated
with five cuts. The subjects of those cuts and their arrangement on the
page is not precisely the same as in the earlier Latin editions; and as
in the latter there are forty “histories,” six are wanting in the
Bamberg edition, namely: 1. Christ in the garden; 2. The soldiers
alarmed at the sepulchre; 3. The Last Judgment; 4. Hell; 5. The eternal
Father receiving the righteous into his bosom; and 6. The crowning of
the Saints. As the cuts illustrative of these subjects are the last in
the Latin editions, it is possible that the Bamberg copy described by
Camus might be defective; he, however, observes that there is no
appearance of any leaves being wanting.[IV-16] In each page of the
Bamberg edition the text is in two columns below the cuts, which are
arranged in the following manner in the upper part of the page:

                      |                        |
                      |            3           |
  +--------------+    |                        |    +--------------+
  |      1       |    |Christ appearing to the |    |      2       |
  |              |    |                        |    |              |
  |    Busts.    |    |        Apostles.       |    |    Busts.    |
  |              |    |                        |    |              |
  +--------------+    +------------------------+    +--------------+

  |                            |      |                            |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |              4             |      |                            |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |   Joseph making himself    |      |  The Prodigal Son’s return |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |   known to his brethern.   |      |       to his father.       |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |                            |      |                            |
  |                            |      |                            |

The following cuts are fac-similes of those given by Camus; and the
numbers underneath each relate to their position in the preceding
example of their arrangement. In No. 1 the heads are intended for David
and the author of the Book of Wisdom; in No. 2, for Isaiah and Ezekiel.

  [Illustration: No. 1.]

  [Illustration: No. 2.]

    [Footnote IV-16: The copy of the Bamberg edition in the
    Wolfenbuttel Library, seen and described by Heineken, Idée
    Générale, pp. 327-329, contained only twenty-six “histories,” or
    general subjects.]

The subject represented in the following cut, No. 3, forming the centre
piece at the top in the arrangement of the original page, is Christ
appearing to his disciples after his resurrection. The figure on the
right of Christ is intended for St. Peter, and that on his left for St.
John. I believe that in no wood-cut, ancient or modern, is Christ
represented with so uncomely an aspect and so clumsy a figure.

  [Illustration: No. 3.]

The subject of No. 4 is Joseph making himself known to his brethren;
from Genesis, chapter XLV.

  [Illustration: No. 4.]

In No. 5 the subject represented is the Prodigal Son received by his
father; from St. Luke, chapter XV. Camus says that the cuts given by him
were engraved on wood by Duplaa with the greatest exactitude from
tracings of the originals by Dubrena.

  [Illustration: No. 5.]

Supposing that all the cuts in the four works, printed by Pfister and
described in the preceding pages, were designed in a similar taste and
executed in a similar manner to those of which specimens are given, the
persons by whom they were engraved--for it is not likely that they were
all engraved by one man--must have had very little knowledge of the art.
Looking merely at the manner in which they are engraved, without
reference to the wretched drawing of the figures and want of “feeling”
displayed in the general treatment of the subjects, a moderately apt
lad, at the present day, generally will cut as well by the time that he
has had a month or two’s practice. If those cuts were to be considered
as fair specimens of wood engraving in Germany in 1462, it would be
evident that the art was then declining; for none of the specimens that
I have seen of the cuts printed by Pfister can bear a comparison with
those contained in the early block-books, such as the Apocalypse, the
History of the Virgin, or the early editions of the Poor Preachers’
Bible. To the cuts contained in the latter works they are decidedly
inferior, both with respect to design and engraving. Even the earliest
wood-cuts which are known,--for instance, the St. Christopher, the St.
Bridget, and the Annunciation, in Earl Spencer’s collection,--are
executed in a superior manner.

It would, however, be unfair to conclude that the cuts which appear in
Pfister’s works were the best that were executed at that period. On the
contrary, it is probable that they are the productions of persons who in
their own age would be esteemed only as inferior artists. As the
progress of typography was regarded with jealousy by the early wood
engravers and block printers, who were apprehensive that it would ruin
their trade, and as previous to the establishment of printing they were
already formed into companies or fellowships, which were extremely
sensitive on the subject of their exclusive rights, it is not unlikely
that the earliest type-printers who adorned their books with wood-cuts
would be obliged to have them executed by a person who was not
professionally a wood engraver. It is only upon this supposition that we
can account for the fact of the wood-cuts in the earliest books printed
with type being so very inferior to those in the earliest block-books.
This supposition is corroborated by the account which we have of the
proceedings of the wood engravers of Augsburg shortly after
type-printing was first established in that city. In 1471 they opposed
Gunther Zainer’s[IV-17] admission to the privileges of a burgess, and
endeavoured to prevent him printing wood engravings in his books.
Melchior Stamham, however, abbot of St. Ulric and Afra, a warm promoter
of typography, interested himself on behalf of Zainer, and obtained an
order from the magistracy that he and John Schussler--another printer
whom the wood engravers had also objected to--should be allowed to
follow without interruption their art of printing. They were, however,
forbid to print initial letters from wood-blocks or to insert wood-cuts
in their books, as this would be an infringement on the privileges of
the fellowship of wood engravers. Subsequently the wood engravers came
to an understanding with Zainer, and agreed that he should print as many
initial letters and wood-cuts as he pleased, provided that they engraved
them.[IV-18] Whether Schussler came to the same agreement or not is
uncertain, as there is no book known to be printed by him of a later
date than 1472. It is probable that he is the person,--named John
_Schüssler_ in the memorandum printed by Zapf,--of whom Melchior de
Stamham in that year bought five presses for the printing-office which
he established in his convent of St. Ulric and St. Afra. To John Bämler,
who at the same time carried on the business of a printer at Augsburg,
no objection appears to have been made. As he was originally a
“calligraphus” or ornamental writer, it is probable that he was a member
of the wood engravers’ guild, and thus entitled to engrave and print his
own works without interruption.

    [Footnote IV-17: Gunther Zainer was a native of Reutlingen, in
    Wirtemberg, and was the first printer in Germany who used Roman
    characters,--in an edition of “Isidori Episcopi Hispalensis
    Etymologia,” printed by him in 1472. He first began to print at
    Augsburg in 1468. In 1472 he printed a German translation of the
    book entitled “Belial,” with wood-cuts. A Latin edition of this
    book was printed by Schussler in the same year. Von Murr says that
    Schussler printed another edition of “Belial” in 1477; but this
    would seem to be a mistake, for Veith asserts in his “Diatribe de
    Origine et Incrementis Artis Typographicæ in urbe Augusta
    Vindelica,” prefixed to Zapf’s “Annales,” that Schussler only
    printed in the years 1470, 1471, and 1472.]

    [Footnote IV-18: Von Murr, Journal, 2 Theil, S. 144.--Zapf,
    Buchdruckergeschichte von Augsburg, 1 Band.]

As it is probable that the wood-cuts which appear in books printed
within the first thirty years from the establishment of typography at
Mentz were intended to be coloured, this may in some degree account for
the coarseness with which they are engraved; but as the wood-cuts in the
earlier block-books were also intended to be coloured in a similar
manner, the inferiority of the former can only be accounted for by
supposing that the best wood engravers declined to assist in promoting
what they would consider to be a rival art, and that the earlier
printers would generally be obliged to have their cuts engraved by
persons connected with their own establishments, and who had not by a
regular course of apprenticeship acquired a knowledge of the art. About
seventy or eighty years ago, and until a more recent period, many
country printers in England used themselves to engrave such rude
wood-cuts as they might occasionally want. A most extensive assortment
of such wood-cuts belonged to the printing-office of the late Mr. George
Angus of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who used them as head-pieces and general
illustrations to ballads and chap-books. A considerable number of them
were cut with a penknife, on pear-tree wood, by an apprentice named
Randell, who died about forty years ago. Persons who are fond of a
“rough harvest” of such modern-antiques are referred to the “Historical
Delights,” the “History of Ripon,” and other works published by Thomas
Gent at York about 1733.

Notwithstanding the rudeness with which the cuts are engraved in the
four works printed by Pfister, yet from their number a considerable
portion of time must have been occupied in their execution. In the “Four
Histories” there are sixty-one cuts, which have been printed from
fifty-five blocks. In the “Fables” there are one hundred and one cuts;
in the “Complaints against Death,” five; and in the “Poor Preachers’
Bible,” one hundred and seventy, reckoning each subject separately.
Supposing each cut in the _three_ last works was printed from a separate
block, the total number of blocks required for the _four_ would be three
hundred and thirty-one.[IV-19] Supposing that each cut on an average
contained as much work as that which is numbered 4 in the preceding
specimens--Joseph making himself known to his brethren--and supposing
that the artist drew the subjects himself, the execution of those three
hundred and thirty-one cuts would occupy one person for about two years
and a half, allowing him to work three hundred days in each year. It is
true that a modern wood engraver might finish more than three of such
cuts in a week, yet I question if any one of the profession would
complete the whole number, with his own hands, in less time than I have

    [Footnote IV-19: Lichtenberger, in his Initia Typographica,
    referring to Sprenger’s History of Printing at Bamberg, says that,
    besides those four, five other tracts are printed with Pfister’s
    types, of which three contain wood-cuts. One of those three,
    however, a “Poor Preachers’ Bible,” with the text in Latin, has
    the same cuts as the “Poor Preachers’ Bible” with the text in
    German. Only one of those other five works contains the place and

From the similarity between Pfister’s types and those with which a Bible
without place or date is printed, several bibliographers have ascribed
the latter work to his press. This Bible, which in the Royal Library at
Paris is bound in three volumes folio, is the rarest of all editions of
the Scriptures printed in Latin. Schelhorn, who wrote a dissertation on
this edition, endeavoured to show that it was the first of the Bibles
printed at Mentz, and that it was partly printed by Gutemberg and Faust
previous to their separation, and finished by Faust and Scheffer in
1456.[IV-20] Lichtenberger, without expressly assenting to Schelhorn’s
opinion, is inclined to think that it was printed at Mentz, and by
Gutemberg. The reasons which he assigns, however, are not such as are
likely to gain assent without a previous willingness to believe. He
admits that Pfister’s types are similar to those of the Bible, though he
says that the former are somewhat ruder.

    [Footnote IV-20: De Antiquissima Latinorum Bibliorum editione
    . . . . Jo. Georgii Schelhorn Diatribe. Ulmæ, 4to. 1760.]

Camus considers that the tracts unquestionably printed by Pfister throw
considerable light on the question as to whom this Bible is to be
ascribed. There are two specimens of this Bible, the one given by Masch
in his Bibliotheca Sacra, and the other by Schelhorn, in a dissertation
prefixed to Quirini’s account of the principal works printed at Rome.
Camus, on comparing these specimens with the text of Pfister’s tracts,
immediately perceived the most perfect resemblance between the
characters; and on applying a tracing of the last thirteen lines of the
“Four Histories” to the corresponding letters in Schelhorn’s specimen,
he found that the characters exactly corresponded. This perfect identity
induced him to believe that the Bible described by Schelhorn was printed
with Pfister’s types. A correspondent in Meusel’s Magazine, No. VII.
1794, had previously advanced the same opinion; and he moreover thought
that the Bible had been printed previous to the Fables dated 1461,
because the characters of the Bible are cleaner, and appear as if they
had been impressed from newer types than those of the Fables.[IV-21] In
support of this opinion an extract is given, in the same magazine, from
a curious manuscript of the date of 1459, and preserved in the library
of Cracow. This manuscript is a kind of dictionary of arts and sciences,
composed by Paul of Prague, doctor of medicine and philosophy, who, in
his definition of the word “Libripagus,” gives a curious piece of
information to the following effect. The barbarous Latin of the original
passage, to which I shall have occasion to refer, will be found in the
subjoined note.[IV-22] “He is an artist who dexterously cuts figures,
letters, and whatever he pleases on plates of copper, of iron, of solid
blocks of wood, and other materials, that he may print upon paper, on a
wall, or on a clean board. He cuts whatever he pleases; and he proceeds
in this manner with respect to pictures. In my time somebody of Bamberg
cut the entire Bible upon plates; in four weeks he impressed the whole
Bible, thus sculptured, upon thin parchment.”

    [Footnote IV-21: Dr. Dibdin says that a copy of this Bible, which
    formerly belonged to the Earl of Oxford, and is now in the Royal
    Library at Paris, contains “an undoubted coeval MS. date, in red
    ink, of 1461.”--Bibliog. Tour, vol. ii p. 108. Second edition.]

    [Footnote IV-22: “Libripagus est artifex sculpens subtiliter in
    laminibus æreis, ferreis, ac ligneis solidi ligni, atque aliis,
    imagines, scripturam et omne quodlibet, ut prius imprimat papyro
    aut parieti aut asseri mundo. Scindit omne quod cupit, et est homo
    faciens talia cum picturis; et tempore mei Bambergæ quidam
    sculpsit integram bibliam super lamellas, et in quatuor septimanis
    totam bibliam in pergameno subtili præsignavit sculpturam.”]

Although I am of opinion that the weight of evidence is in favour of
Pfister being the printer of the Bible in question, yet I cannot think
that the arguments which have been adduced in his favour derive any
additional support from this passage. The writer, like many other
dictionary makers, both in ancient and modern times, has found it a more
difficult matter to give a clear account of a _thing_ than to find the
synonym of a _word_. But, notwithstanding his confused account, I think
that I can perceive in it the “disjecta membra” of an ancient
Formschneider and a Briefmaler, but no indication of a typographer.

In a jargon worthy of the “Epistolæ obscurorum virorum” he describes an
artist, or rather an artizan, “sculpens subtiliter in laminibus[IV-23]
[laminis] æreis, ferreis, ac ligneis solidi ligni, atque aliis,
imagines, scripturam et omne quodlibet.” In this passage the business of
the “Formschneider” may be clearly enough distinguished: he cuts figures
and animals in plates of copper and iron;--but not in the manner of a
modern copper-plate engraver; but in the manner in which a stenciller
pierces his patterns. That this is the true meaning of the writer is
evident from the context, wherein he informs us of the artist’s object
in cutting such letters and figures, namely, “ut prius imprimat papyro
aut parieti aut asseri mundo,”--that he may print upon paper, on a wall,
or on a clean board. This is evidently descriptive of the practice of
stencilling, and proves, if the manuscript be authentic, that the old
“Briefmalers” were accustomed to “slapdash” walls as well as to engrave
and colour cards. In the distinction which is made of the “laminibus
ligneis _ligni solidi_,” it is probable that the writer meant to specify
the difference between cutting out letters and figures on thin plates of
metal, and cutting _upon_ blocks of solid wood. When he speaks of a
Bible being cut, at Bamberg, “super lamellas,” he most likely means a
“Poor Preachers’ Bible,” engraved on blocks of wood. An impression of a
hundred or more copies of such a work might easily enough be taken in a
month when the blocks were all ready engraved; but we cannot suppose
that the Bible ascribed to Pfister could be worked off in so short a
time. This Bible consists of eight hundred and seventy leaves; and to
print an edition of three hundred copies at the rate of three hundred
sheets a day would require four hundred and fifty days. About three
hundred copies of each work appears to have been the usual number which
Sweinheim and Pannartz and Ulric Hahn printed, on the establishment of
the art in Italy; and Philip de Lignamine in his chronicle mentions,
under the year 1458, that Gutemberg and Faust, at Mentz, and Mentelin at
Strasburg, printed three hundred sheets in a day.[IV-24]

    [Footnote IV-23: In 1793, a learned doctor of divinity of
    Cambridge is said in a like manner to have broken Priscian’s head
    with “_paginibus_.” An epigram on this “blunder_bus_” is to be
    found in the “Gradus ad Cantabrigiam.”]

    [Footnote IV-24: Lichtenberger, Initia Typographica, p. 51.]

Of Pfister nothing more is positively known than what the tracts printed
by him afford; namely, that he dwelt at Bamberg, and exercised the
business of a printer there in 1461 and 1462. He might indeed print
there both before and after those years, but of this we have no direct
evidence. From 1462 to 1481 no book is known to have been printed at
Bamberg. In the latter year, a press was established there by John
Sensenschmidt of Egra, who had previously, that is from 1470, printed
several works at Nuremberg.

Panzer, alluding to Pfister as the printer only of the Fables and of the
tracts contained in the volume described by Camus, says that he can
scarcely believe that he had a fixed residence at Bamberg; and that
those tracts most likely proceeded from the press of a travelling
printer.[IV-25] Several of the early printers, who commenced on their
own account, on the dispersion of Faust and Scheffer’s workmen in 1462,
were accustomed to travel with their small stock of materials from one
place to another; sometimes finding employment in a monastery, and
sometimes taking up their temporary abode in a small town; removing to
another as soon as public curiosity was satisfied, and the demand for
the productions of their press began to decline. As they seldom put
their names, or that of the place, to the works which they printed, it
is extremely difficult to decide on the locality or the date of many old
books printed in Germany. It is very likely that they were their own
letter-founders, and that they themselves engraved such wood-cuts as
they might require. As their object was to gain money, it is not
unlikely that they might occasionally sell a portion of their types to
each other;[IV-26] or to a novice who wished to begin the business, or
to a learned abbot who might be desirous of establishing an amateur
press within the precinct of his monastery, where copies of the Facetiæ
of Poggius might be multiplied as well as the works of St. Augustine.
Although it has been asserted the monks regarded with jealousy the
progress of printing, as if it were likely to make knowledge too cheap,
and to interfere with a part of their business as transcribers of books,
such does not appear to have been the fact. In every country in Europe
we find them to have been the first to encourage and promote the new
art; and the annals of typography most clearly show that the greater
part of the books printed within the first thirty years from the time of
Gutemberg and Faust’s partnership were chiefly for the use of the monks
and the secular clergy.

    [Footnote IV-25: “Opuscula quæ typis mandavit typographus hic,
    hactenus ignotus, ad litteraturam Teutonicam pertinent. Imprimis
    Pfisterum hunc Bambergæ fixam habuisse sedem vix crediderim.
    Videntur potius hi libri Teutonici monumenta transeuntis
    typographi.”--Annal. Typogr. tom. i. p. 142, cited by Camus.]

    [Footnote IV-26: Breitkopf, Ueber Bibliographie, S. 25. 4to.
    Leipzig, 1793.]

From 1462 to 1467 there appears to have been no book printed containing
wood-cuts. In the latter year Ulric Hahn, a German, printed at Rome a
book entitled “Meditationes Johannis de Turrecremata,”[IV-27] which
contains wood-cuts engraved in simple outline in a coarse manner. The
work is in folio, and consists of thirty-four leaves of stout paper, on
which the water-mark is a hunter’s horn. The number of cuts is also
thirty-four; and the following--the creation of animals--is a reduced
copy of the first.

    [Footnote IV-27: The following is the title at length as it is
    printed, in red letters, underneath the first cut: “Meditationes
    Reverē dissimi patris dñi Johannis de turre cremata sacros͞ce
    Romane eccl’ie cardinalis posite & depicte de ipsius mādato ī
    eccl’ie ambitu Marie de Minerva. Rome.” The book is described in
    Von Murr’s Memorabilia Bibliothecar. Publicar. Norimbergensium and
    in Dibdin’s Ædes Althorpianæ, vol. ii. p. 273, with specimens of
    the cuts.]


The remainder of the cuts are executed in a similar style; and though
designed with more spirit than those contained in Pfister’s tracts, yet
it can scarcely be said that they are better engraved. The following is
an enumeration of the subjects. 1. The Creation, as above represented.
2. The Almighty speaking to Adam. 3. Eve taking the apple. (From No. 3
the rest of the cuts are illustrative of the New Testament or of
Ecclesiastical History.) 4. The Annunciation. 5. The Nativity.
6. Circumcision of Christ. 7. Adoration of the Magi. 8. Simeon’s
Benediction. 9. The Flight into Egypt. 10. Christ disputing with the
Doctors in the Temple. 11. Christ baptized. 12. The Temptation in the
Wilderness. 13. The keys given to Peter. 14. The Transfiguration.
15. Christ washing the Apostles’ feet. 16. The Last Supper. 17. Christ
betrayed by Judas. 18. Christ led before the High Priest. 19. The
Crucifixion. 20. Mater Dolorosa. 21. The Descent into Hell. 22. The
Resurrection. 23. Christ appearing to his Disciples. 24. The Ascension.
25. The feast of Pentecost 26. The Host borne by a bishop. 27. The
mystery of the Trinity; Abraham sees three and adores one. 28. St.
Dominic extended like the “_Stam-Herr_” or first ancestor in a pedigree,
and sending forth numerous branches as Popes, Cardinals, and Saints.
29. Christ appearing to St. Sixtus. 30. The Assumption of the Virgin.
31. Christ seated amidst a choir of Angels. 32. Christ seated at the
Virgin’s right hand in the assembly of Saints. 33. The Office of Mass
for the Dead. 34. The Last Judgment.

Zani says that those cuts were engraved by an Italian artist, but beyond
his assertion there is no authority for the fact. It is most likely that
they were cut by one of Hahn’s workmen, who could occasionally “turn his
hand” to wood-engraving and type-founding, as well as compose and work
at press; and it is most probable that Hahn’s workmen when he first
established a press in Rome were Germans, and not Italians.

The second book printed in Italy with wood-cuts is the “Editio Princeps”
of the treatise of R. Valturius de Re Militari, which appeared at Verona
from the press of “Johannes de Verona,” son of Nicholas the surgeon, and
master of the art of printing.[IV-28] This work is dedicated by the
author to Sigismund Malatesta, lord of Rimini, who is styled in pompous
phrase, “Splendidissimum Arminensium Regem ac Imperatorem semper
invictum.” The work, however, must have been written several years
before it was printed, for Baluze transcribed from a MS. dated 1463 a
letter written in the name of Malatesta, and sent by the author with a
copy of his work to the Sultan Mahomet II. The bearer of this letter was
the painter Matteo Pasti, a friend of the author, who visited
Constantinople at the Sultan’s request in order that he might paint his
portrait. It is said that the cuts in this work were designed by Pasti;
and it is very probable that he might make the drawings in Malatesta’s
own copy, from which it is likely that the book was printed. As
Valturius has mentioned Pasti as being eminently skilful in the arts of
Painting, Sculpture, and _Engraving_,[IV-29] Maffei has
conjectured,--and Mr. Ottley adds, “with some appearance of
probability,”--that the cuts in question were executed by his hand. If
such were the fact, it only could be regretted that an artist so eminent
should have mis-spent his time in a manner so unworthy of his
reputation; for, allowing that a considerable degree of talent is
displayed in many of the designs, there is nothing in the engraving, as
they are mere outlines, but what might be cut by a novice. There is not,
however, the slightest reasonable ground to suppose that those
engravings were cut by Matteo Pasti, for I believe that he died before
printing was introduced into Italy; and it surely would be presuming
beyond the verge of probability to assert that they might be engraved in
anticipation of the art being introduced, and of the book being printed
at some time or other, when the blocks would be all ready engraved,
in a simple style of art indeed, but with a master’s hand.
A master-sculptor’s hand, however, is not very easily distinguished
in the mere rough-dressing of a block of sandstone, which any country
mason’s apprentice might do as well. It is very questionable if Matteo
Pasti was an engraver in the present sense of the word; the engraving
meant by Valturius was probably that of gold and silver vessels and
ornaments; but not the engraving of plates of copper or other metal
for the purpose of being printed.

    [Footnote IV-28: The following is a copy of the colophon:
    “Johannes ex verona oriundus: Nicolai cyrurgie medici filius:
    Artis impressorie magister: hunc de re militari librum
    elegantissimum: litteris et figuratis signis sua in patria primus
    impressit. An. MCCCCLXXII.”]

    [Footnote IV-29: “Valturius speaks of Pasti in one of his letters
    as being eminently skilful in the arts of Painting, Sculpture, and
    Engraving.”--Ottley, Inquiry, p. 257.]

Several of those cuts occupy an entire folio page, though the greater
number are of smaller size. They chiefly represent warlike engines,
which display considerable mechanical skill on the part of the
contriver; modes of attack and defence both by land and water, with
various contrivances for passing a river which is not fordable, by means
of rafts, inflated bladders, and floating bridges. In some of them
inventions may be noticed which are generally ascribed to a later
period: such as a boat with paddle-wheels, which are put in motion by a
kind of crank; a gun with a stock, fired from the shoulder; and a
bomb-shell. It has frequently been asserted that hand-guns were first
introduced about the beginning of the sixteenth century, yet the figure
of one in the work of Valturius makes it evident that they were known
some time before. It is also likely that the drawing was made and the
description written at least ten years before the book was printed. It
has also been generally asserted that bomb-shells were first used by
Charles VIII. of France when besieging Naples in 1495. Valturius,
however, in treating of cannon, ascribes the invention to
Malatesta.[IV-30] Gibbon, in chapter lxviii. of his History of the
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, notices this cut of a bomb-shell.
His reference is to the second edition of the work, in Italian, printed
also at Verona by Bonin de Bononis in 1483, with the same cuts as the
first edition in Latin.[IV-31] The two following cuts are fac-similes of
the bomb-shell and the hand-gun, as represented in the edition of 1472.
The figure armed with the gun,--a portion of a large cut,--is firing
from a kind of floating battery; and in the original two figures armed
with similar weapons are stationed immediately above him.

    [Footnote IV-30: “Inventum est quoque alterum machinæ hujusce tuum
    Sigismonde Panpulfe [Malatesta]: qua pilæ æneæ tormentarii
    pulveris plenæ cum fungi aridi fomite urientis emittuntur.”--We
    hence learn that the first bomb-shells were made of copper, and
    that the fuzee was a piece of a dried fungus. As the first edition
    has neither numerals nor signatures, I cannot refer to the page in
    which the above passage is to be found. It is, however, opposite
    to the cut in which the bomb-shell appears, and that is about the
    middle of the volume.]

    [Footnote IV-31: “Robert Valturio published at Verona, in 1483,
    his twelve books de Re Militari, in which he first mentions the
    use of bombs. By his patron Sigismond Malatesti, Prince of Rimini,
    it had been addressed with a Latin epistle to Mahomet
    II.”--Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. lxviii., note.]



The following fac-simile of a cut representing a man shooting with a
cross-bow is the best in the book. The drawing of the figure is good,
and the attitude graceful and natural. The figure, indeed, is not only
the best in the work of Valturius, but is one of the best, so far as
respects the drawing, that is to be met with in any book printed in the
fifteenth century.


The practice of introducing wood-cuts into printed books seems to have
been first generally adopted at Augsburg, where Gunther Zainer, in 1471,
printed a German translation of the “Legenda Sanctorum” with figures of
the saints coarsely engraved on wood. This, I believe, is the first
book, after Pfister’s tracts, printed in Germany with wood-cuts and
containing a date. In 1472 he printed a second volume of the same work,
and an edition of the book entitled “Belial,”[IV-32] both containing
wood-cuts. Several other works printed by him between 1471 and 1475 are
illustrated in a similar manner. Zainer’s example was followed at
Augsburg by his contemporaries John Bämler and John Schussler; and by
them, and Anthony Sorg, who first began to print there about 1475, more
books with wood-cuts were printed in that city previous to 1480 than at
any other place within the same period. In 1477 the first German Bible
with wood-cuts was printed by Sorg, who printed another edition with the
same cuts and initial letters in 1480. In 1483 he printed an account of
the Council of Constance held in 1431, with upwards of a thousand
wood-cuts of figures and of the arms of the principal persons both lay
and spiritual who attended the council. Upon this work Gebhard, in his
Genealogical History of the Heritable States of the German Empire, makes
the following observations:--“The first printed collection of arms is
that of 1483 in the History of the Council of Constance written by
Ulrich Reichenthal. To this council we are indebted accidentally for the
collection. From the thirteenth century it was customary to hang up the
shields of noble and honourable persons deceased in churches; and
subsequently the practice was introduced of painting them upon the
walls, or of placing them in the windows in stained glass. A similar
custom prevailed at the Council of Constance; for every person of
consideration who attended had his arms painted on the wall in front of
his chamber; and thus Reichenthal, who caused those arms to be copied
and engraved on wood, was enabled to give in his history the first
general collection of coat-armour which had appeared; as eminent persons
from all the Catholic states of Europe attended this council.”[IV-33]

    [Footnote IV-32: Von Murr says that the person who engraved the
    cuts for this book also engraved the cuts in a German edition of
    the Speculum without date, but printed at Augsburg, and dedicated
    to John [von Giltingen] abbot of the monastery of St. Ulric and
    St. Afra, who was chosen to that office in 1482. Heineken supposed
    that the person to whom the book was dedicated was John von
    Hohenstein, but he resigned the office of abbot in 1459; and the
    book was certainly not printed at that period.--See Heineken, Idée
    Gén. p. 466; and Von Murr, Journal, 2 Theil, S. 145.]

    [Footnote IV-33: L. A. Gebhard, Genealogische Geschichte, 1 Theil,
    Vorrede, S. 11. Cited by Veith in his “Diatribe,” prefixed to
    Zapf’s “Annales Typographiæ Augustanæ.”]

The practice of introducing wood-cuts became in a few years general
throughout Germany. In 1473, John Zainer of Reutlingen, who is said to
have been the brother of Gunther, printed an edition of Boccacio’s work
“De mulieribus claris,” with wood-cuts, at Ulm. In 1474 the first
edition of Werner Rolewinck de Laer’s chronicle, entitled “Fasciculus
Temporum,” was printed with wood-cuts by Arnold Ther-Hoernen at Cologne;
and in 1476 an edition of the same work, also with wood-cuts, was
printed at Louvain by John Veldener, who previously had been a printer
at Cologne. In another edition of the same work printed by Veldener at
Utrecht in 1480, the first page is surrounded with a border of foliage
and flowers cut on wood; and another page, about the middle of the
volume, is ornamented in a similar manner. These are the earliest
instances of ornamental borders from wood-blocks which I have observed.
About the beginning of the sixteenth century title-pages surrounded with
ornamental borders are frequent. From the name of those borders,
_Rahmen_, the German wood engravers of that period are sometimes called
_Rahmenschneiders_. Prosper Marchand, in his “Dictionnaire Historique,”
tom. ii. p. 156, has stated that Erhard Ratdolt, a native of Augsburg,
who began to print at Venice about 1475, was the first printer who
introduced flowered initial letters, and vignettes--meaning by the
latter term wood-cuts; but his information is scarcely correct.
Wood-cuts--without reference to Pfister’s tracts, which were not known
when Marchand wrote--were introduced at Augsburg six years before
Ratdolt and his partners[IV-34] printed at Venice in 1476 the
“Calendarium Joannis Regiomontani,” the work to which Marchand alludes.
It may be true that he introduced a new kind of initial letters
ornamented with flowers in this work, but much more beautiful initial
letters had appeared long before in the Psalter, in the “Durandi
Rationale,” and the “Donatus” printed by Faust and Scheffer. The first
person who mentions Ratdolt as the inventor of “florentes litteræ,” so
named from the flowers with which they are intermixed, is Maittaire, in
his Annales Typographici, tom. i. part i. p. 53.

    [Footnote IV-34: The following colophon to an edition of Appian
    informs us that his partners were Bernard the painter and Peter
    Loslein, who also acted as corrector of the press: “Impressum est
    hoc opus Venetiis per Bernardū pictorem & Erhardum ratdolt de
    Augusta una cum Petro Loslein de Langenzen correctore ac socio.
    Laus Deo. MCCCCLXXVII.”]

In 1483 Veldener,[IV-35] as has been previously observed at page 106,
printed at Culemburg an edition in small quarto of the Speculum
Salvationis, with the same blocks as had been used in the earlier folio
editions, which are so confidently ascribed to Lawrence Coster. In
Veldener’s edition each of the large blocks, consisting of two
compartments, is sawn in two in order to adapt them to a smaller page.
A German translation of the Speculum, with wood-cuts, was printed at
Basle, in folio, in 1476; and Jansen says that the first book printed in
France with wood-cuts was an edition of the Speculum, at Lyons, in 1478;
and that the second was a translation of the book named “Belial,”
printed at the same place in 1482.

    [Footnote IV-35: Veldener at the conclusion of a book printed by
    him in 1476, containing “_Epistolares quasdam formulas_,” thus
    informs the reader of his name and qualifications: “Accipito huic
    artifici nomen esse magistro Johanni Veldener, cui quidem certa
    manu insculpendi, celandi, intorculandi, caracterandi adsit
    industria; adde et figurandi et effigiendi.” That is, his name was
    John Veldener; he could engrave, could work both at press and
    case, and moreover he knew something of sculpture, and could paint
    a little.]

The first printed book in the English language that contains wood-cuts
is the second edition of Caxton’s “Game and Playe of the Chesse,”
a small folio, without date or place, but generally supposed to have
been printed about 1476.[IV-36] The first edition of the same work,
without cuts, was printed in 1474. On the blank leaves at the end of a
copy of the first edition in the King’s Library, at the British Museum,
there is written in a contemporary hand a list of the bannerets and
knights[IV-37] made at the battle of “Stooke by syde newerke apon trent
the xvi day of june the ii^de yer of harry the vii.” that is, in 1487.
In this battle Martin Swart was killed. He commanded the Flemings, who
were sent by the Duchess of Burgundy to assist Lambert Simnel. It was at
the request of the duchess, who was Edward the Fourth’s sister, that
Caxton translated the “Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye,” the first
book printed in the English language, and which appeared at Cologne in
1471 or 1472.

    [Footnote IV-36: Heineken, Idée Gén. p. 207, erroneously states
    that the first book with wood-cuts printed in England was the
    Golden Legend, by Caxton, in 1483. It is probable that the second
    edition of the Game of Chess preceded it by seven years, and it
    certainly was printed after the Mirror of the World.]

    [Footnote IV-37: The following are some of the names as they are
    written: “S gilbert talbott . S John cheiny . S williā stoner .
    Theis iij wer made byfore the bataile, and after the bataile were
    made the same day : S^r. John of Arundell . Thomas Cooksey . John
    forteskew . Edmond benyngfeld . james blount . ric . of Croffte .
    Geofrey Stanley . ric . delaber . John mortymer . williā
    troutbeke.” The above appear to have been created _Bannerets_, for
    after them follows a list of “_Knyghtes_ made at the same
    bataile.” It is likely that the owner of the volume was at the
    battle, and that the names were written immediately after.]

In Dr. Dibdin’s edition of Ames’s Typographical Antiquities there is a
“Description of the Pieces and Pawns” in the second edition of Caxton’s
Chess; which description is said to be illustrated with facsimile
wood-cuts. There are indeed fac-similes of some of the figures given,
but not of the wood-cuts generally; for in almost every cut given by Dr.
Dibdin the back-ground of the original is omitted. In the description of
the first fac-simile there is also an error: it is said to be “the
_first_ cut in the work,” while in fact it is the _second_. The
following I believe to be a correct list of these first fruits of
English wood-engraving.

1. An executioner with an axe cutting to pieces, on a block, the limbs
of a man. On the head, which is lying on the ground, there is a crown.
Birds are seen seizing and flying away with portions of the limbs. There
are buildings in the distance, and three figures, one of whom is a king
with a crown and sceptre, appear looking on. 2. A figure sitting at a
table, with a chess-board before him, and holding one of the chess-men
in his hand. This is the cut which Dr. Dibdin says is the first in the
book. 3. A king and another person playing at chess. 4. The king at
chess, seated on a throne. 5. The king and queen. 6. The “alphyns,” now
called “bishops” in the game of chess, “in the maner of judges sittyng.”
7. The knight. 8. The “rook,” or castle, a figure on horseback wearing a
hood and holding a staff in his hand. From No. 9 to No. 15 inclusive,
the pawns are thus represented. 9. Labourers and workmen, the principal
figure representing the first pawn, with a spade in his right hand and a
cart-whip in his left. 10. The second pawn, a smith with his buttriss in
the string of his apron, and a hammer in his right hand. 11. The third
pawn, represented as a _clerk_, that is a writer or transcriber, in the
same sense as Peter Scheffer and Ulric Zell are styled _clerici_, with
his case of writing materials at his girdle, a pair of shears in one
hand, and a large knife in the other. The knife, which has a large
curved blade, appears more fit for a butcher’s chopper than to make or
mend pens. 12. The fourth pawn, a man with a pair of scales, and having
a purse at his girdle, representing “marchauntes or chaungers.” 13. The
fifth pawn, a figure seated on a chair, having in his right hand a book,
and in his left a sort of casket or box of ointments, representing a
physician, spicer, or apothecary. 14. The sixth pawn, an innkeeper,
receiving a guest. 15. The seventh pawn, a figure with a yard measure in
his right hand, a bunch of keys in his left, and an open purse at his
girdle, representing “customers and tolle gaderers.” 16. The eighth
pawn, a figure with a sort of badge on his breast near to his right
shoulder, after the manner of a nobleman’s retainer, and holding a pair
of dice in his left hand, representing dice-players, messengers, and
“currours,” that is “couriers.” In old authors the numerous idle
retainers of the nobility are frequently represented as gamblers,
swash-bucklers, and tavern-haunters.

Although there are twenty-four impressions in the volume, yet there are
only sixteen subjects, as described above; the remaining eight being
repetitions of the cuts numbered 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10, with two
impressions of the cut No. 2, besides that towards the commencement.


The above cut is a reduced copy of the knight, No. 7; and his character
is thus described: “The knyght ought to be maad al armed upon an hors in
suche wise that he have an helme on his heed and a spere in his right
hond, and coverid with his shelde, a swerde and a mace on his left syde
. clad with an halberke and plates tofore his breste . legge harnoys on
his legges . spores on his heelis, on hys handes hys gauntelettes . hys
hors wel broken and taught and apte to bataylle and coveryd with hys
armes. When the Knyghtes been maad they ben bayned or bathed . That is
the signe that they sholde lede a newe lyf and newe maners . also they
wake alle the nyght in prayers and orisons unto god that he wil geve hem
grace that they may gete that thyng that they may not gete by nature.
The kyng or prynce gyrdeth a boute them a swerde in signe that they
shold abyde and kepen hym of whom they taken their dispences and

The following cut of the sixth or bishop’s pawn, No. 14, “whiche is
lykened to taverners and vytayllers,” is thus described in Caxton’s own
words: “The sixte pawn whiche stondeth before the alphyn on the lyfte
syde is made in this forme . ffor hit is a man that hath the right hond
stretched out for to calle men, and holdeth in his left honde a loof of
breed and a cuppe of wyn . and on his gurdel hangyng a bondel of keyes,
and this resemblith the taverners hostelers and sellars of vytayl . and
these ought properly to be sette to fore the alphyn as to fore a juge,
for there sourdeth oft tymes amonge hem contencion noyse and stryf,
which behoveth to be determyned and trayted by the alphyn which is juge
of the kynge.”


The next book containing wood-cuts printed by Caxton is the “Mirrour of
the World, or thymage of the same,” as he entitles it at the head of the
table of contents. It is a thin folio consisting of one hundred leaves;
and, in the Prologue, Caxton informs the reader that it “conteyneth in
all lxvii chapitres and xxvii figures, without which it may not lightly
be understāde.” He also says that he translated it from the French at
the “request, desire, coste, and dispense of the honourable and
worshipful man Hugh Bryce, alderman cytezeyn of London,” who intended to
present the same to William, Lord Hastings, chamberlain to Edward IV,
and lieutenant of the same for the town of Calais and the marches there.
On the last page he again mentions Hugh Bryce and Lord Hastings, and
says of his translation: “Whiche book I begun first to trāslate the
second day of Janyuer the yere of our lord M.cccc.lxxx. And fynysshed
the viii day of Marche the same yere, and the xxi yere of the reign of
the most crysten kynge, Kynge Edward the fourthe.”[IV-38]

    [Footnote IV-38: Edward IV. began to reign 4th March 1461; the
    twenty-first year of his reign would consequently commence on 4th
    March 1481; Caxton’s dates therefore do not agree, unless we
    suppose that he reckoned the commencement of the year from 21st
    March. If so, his date viii March 1480, and the xxi year of the
    reign of Edward IV. would agree; and the year of Christ, according
    to our present mode of reckoning, would be 1481. Dr. Dibdin
    assigns to the Mirror the date 1481.--Typ. Ant. i. p. 100.]

The “xxvii figures” mentioned by Caxton, without which the work might
not be easily understood, are chiefly diagrams explanatory of the
principles of astronomy and dialling; but besides those twenty-seven
cuts the book contains eleven more, which may be considered as
illustrative rather than explanatory. The following is a list of those
eleven cuts in the order in which they occur. They are less than the
cuts in the “Game of Chess;” the most of them not exceeding three inches
and a half by three.[IV-39]

    [Footnote IV-39: Fac-similes of six of those cuts are given in Dr.
    Dibdin’s edition of Ames’s Typographical Antiquities, vol.
    i. p. 110-112.]

1. A school-master or “doctor,” gowned, and seated on a high-backed
chair, teaching four youths who are on their knees. 2. A person seated
on a low-backed chair, holding in his hand a kind of globe; astronomical
instruments on a table before him. 3. Christ, or the Godhead, holding in
his hand a ball and cross. 4. The creation of Eve, who appears coming
out of Adam’s side.--The next cuts are figurative of the “seven arts
liberal.” 5. Grammar. A teacher with a large birch-rod seated on a
chair, his four pupils before him on their knees. 6. Logic. Figure
bare-headed seated on a chair, and having before him a book on a kind of
reading-stand, which he appears expounding to his pupils who are
kneeling. 7. Rhetoric. An upright figure in a gown, to whom another,
kneeling, presents a paper, from which a seal is seen depending.
8. Arithmetic. A figure seated, and having before him a tablet inscribed
with numerical characters. 9. Geometry. A figure standing, with a pair
of compasses in his hand, with which he seems to be drawing diagrams on
a table. 10. Music. A female figure with a sheet of music in her hand,
singing, and a man playing on the English flute. 11. Astronomy. Figure
with a kind of quadrant in his hand, who seems to be taking an
observation.--An idea may be formed of the manner in which those cuts
are engraved from the fac-simile on the next page of No. 10, “Music.”

There are wood-cuts in the Golden Legend, 1483; the Fables of Esop,
1484; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and other books printed by Caxton; but
it is unnecessary either to enumerate them or to give specimens, as they
are all executed in the same rude manner as the cuts in the Book of
Chess and the Mirror of the World. In the Book of Hunting and Hawking
printed at St. Albans, 1486, there are rude wood-cuts; as also in a
second and enlarged edition of the same book printed by Wynkyn de Worde,
Caxton’s successor, at Westminster in 1496. The most considerable
wood-cut printed in England previous to 1500 is, so far as regards the
design, a representation of the Crucifixion at the end of the Golden
Legend printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1493.[IV-40] In this cut, neither
of the thieves on each side of Christ appears to be nailed to the cross.
The arms of the thief on the right of Christ hang behind, and are bound
to the transverse piece of the cross, which passes underneath his
shoulders. His feet are neither bound nor nailed to the cross. The feet
of the thief to the left of Christ are tied to the upright piece of the
cross, to which his hands are also bound, his shoulders resting upon the
top, and his face turned upward towards the sky. To the left is seen the
Virgin,--who has fallen down,--supported by St. John. In the back-ground
to the right, the artist, like several others of that period, has
represented Christ bearing his cross.


Dr. Dibdin, at page 8 of the “Disquisition on the Early State of
Engraving and Ornamental Printing in Great Britain,” prefixed to Ames’s
and Herbert’s Typographical Antiquities, makes the following
observations on this cut: “The ‘Crucifixion’ at the end of the ‘Golden
Legend’ of 1493, which Wynkyn de Worde has so frequently subjoined to
his religious pieces, is, unquestionably, the effort of some ingenious
foreign artist. It is not very improbable that Rubens had a recollection
of one of the thieves, twisted, from convulsive agony, round the top of
the cross, when he executed his celebrated picture of the same
subject.”[IV-41] In De Worde’s cut, however, it is to be remarked that
the contorted attitude of both the thieves results rather from the
manner in which they are bound to the cross, than from the convulsions
of agony.

    [Footnote IV-40: A large flowered letter, a T, cut on wood, occurs
    on the same page as the Crucifixion.]

    [Footnote IV-41: In a note upon this passage Dr. Dibdin gives the
    following extract from Sir Joshua Reynolds. “To give animation to
    this subject, Rubens has chosen the point of time when an
    executioner is piercing the side of Christ, while another with a
    bar of iron is breaking the limbs of one of the malefactors, who
    in his convulsive agony, which his body admirably expresses, has
    torn one of his feet from the tree to which it was nailed. The
    expression in the action of the figure is wonderful.”]

At page 7 of the same Disquisition it is said that the figures in the
Game of Chess, the Mirror of the World, and other works printed by
Caxton “are, in all probability, not the genuine productions of this
country; and may be traced to books of an earlier date printed abroad,
from which they were often borrowed without acknowledgment or the least
regard to the work in which they again appeared. Caxton, however, has
judiciously taken one of the prints from the ‘Biblia Pauperum’ to
introduce in his ‘Life of Christ.’ The cuts for his second edition of
‘Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales’ may perhaps safely be considered as the
genuine invention and execution of a British artist.”

Although I am well aware that the printers of the fifteenth century were
accustomed to copy without acknowledgment the cuts which appeared in
each other’s books, and though I think it likely that Caxton might
occasionally resort to the same practice, yet I am decidedly of opinion
that the cuts in the “Game of Chess” and the “Mirror of the World” were
designed and engraved in this country. Caxton’s Game of Chess is
certainly the first book of the kind which appeared with wood-cuts in
any country; and I am further of opinion that in no book printed
previous to 1481 will the presumed originals of the eleven principal
cuts in the Mirror of the World be found. Before we are required to
believe that the cuts in those two books were copied from similar
designs by some foreign artist, we ought to be informed in what work
such originals are to be found. If there be any merit in a first design,
however rude, it is but just to assign it to him who first employs the
unknown artist and makes his productions known. Caxton’s claims to the
merit of “illustrating” the Game of Chess and the Mirror of the World
with wood-cuts from original designs, I conceive to be indisputable.

Dr. Dibdin, in a long note at pages 33, 34, and 35 of the Typographical
Antiquities, gives a confused account of the earliest editions of books
on chess. He mentions as the first, a Latin edition--supposed by
Santander to be the work of Jacobus de Cessolis--in folio, printed about
the year 1473, by Ketelaer and Leempt. In this edition, however, there
are no cuts, and the date is only conjectural. He says that two editions
of the work of Jacobus de Cessolis on the Morality of Chess, in German
and Italian, with wood-cuts, were printed, without date, in the
fifteenth century, and he adds: “Whether Caxton borrowed the cuts in his
second edition from those in the 8vo. German edition without date, or
from this latter Italian one, I am not able to ascertain, having seen
neither.” He seems satisfied that Caxton had _borrowed_ the cuts in his
book of chess, though he is at a loss to discover the party who might
have them to _lend_. Had he even seen the two editions which he
mentions, he could not have known whether Caxton had borrowed his cuts
from them or not until he had ascertained that they were printed
previously to the English edition. There is a German edition of Jacobus
de Cessolis, in folio, with wood-cuts supposed to be printed in 1477, at
Augsburg, by Gunther Zainer, but both date and printer’s name are
conjectural. The first German edition of this work with wood-cuts, and
having a positive date, I believe to be that printed at Strasburg by
Henry Knoblochzer in 1483. Until a work on chess shall be produced of an
earlier date than that ascribed to Caxton’s, and containing similar
wood-cuts, I shall continue to believe that the wood-cuts in the second
English edition of the “Game and Playe of the Chesse” were both designed
and executed by an English artist; and I protest against bibliographers
going a-begging with wood-cuts found in old English books, and ascribing
them to foreign artists, before they have taken the slightest pains to
ascertain whether such cuts were executed in England or not.

The wood-cuts in the Game of Chess and the Mirror of the World are
equally as good as the wood-cuts which are to be found in books printed
abroad about the same period. They are even decidedly better than those
in Anthony Sorg’s German Bible, Augsburg, 1480, or those in Veldener’s
edition of the Fasciculus Temporum, printed at Utrecht in the same year.

It has been supposed that most of the wood-cuts which appear in books
printed by Caxton and De Worde were executed abroad; on the presumption
that there were at that period no professed wood engravers in England.
Although I am inclined to believe that within the fifteenth century
there were no persons in this country who practised wood engraving as a
distinct profession, yet it by no means follows from such an admission
that Caxton’s and De Worde’s cuts must have been engraved by foreign
artists. The manner in which they are executed is so coarse that they
might be cut by any person who could handle a graver. Looking at them
merely as specimens of wood engraving, they are not generally superior
to the practice-blocks cut by a modern wood-engraver’s apprentice within
the first month of his noviciate. I conceive that there would be no
greater difficulty in finding a person capable of engraving them than
there would be in finding the pieces of wood on which they were to be
executed. Persons who have noticed the embellishments in manuscripts,
the carving, the monuments, and the stained glass in churches, executed
in England about the time of Caxton, will scarcely suppose that there
were no artists in this country capable of making the designs for those
cuts. There is in fact reason to believe that in England in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the walls of apartments, more
especially in taverns and hostelries, frequently contained paintings,
most probably in distemper, of subjects both from sacred and general
history. That paintings of sacred subjects were not unusual in churches
at those periods is well known.

In most of the cuts which are to be found in books printed by Caxton,
the effect is produced by the simplest means. The outline of the figures
is coarse and hard, and the shades and folds of the draperies are
indicated by short parallel lines. Cross-hatchings occur in none of
them, though in one or two I have noticed a few angular dots picked out
of the black part of a cut in order that it might not appear like a mere
blot. The foliage of the trees is generally represented in a manner
similar to those in the background of the cut of the knight, of which a
copy is given at page 193. The oak leaves in a wood-cut[IV-42] at the
commencement of the preface to the Golden Legend, 1483, are an exception
to the general style of Caxton’s foliage; and represent what they are
intended for with tolerable accuracy. Having thus noticed some of the
earliest books with wood-engravings printed in England, I shall now
resume my account of the progress of the art on the Continent.

    [Footnote IV-42: A copy of this cut is given at p. 186, vol. i. of
    Dr. Dibdin’s edition of the Typographical Antiquities.]

In an edition of Ptolemy’s Cosmography, printed at Ulm in 1482 by
Leonard Holl, we have the first instance of maps engraved on wood. The
work is in folio, and the number of the maps is twenty-seven. In a
general map of the world the engraver has thus inserted his name at the
top: “Insculptum est per Johannē Schnitzer de Armssheim.”[IV-43] At the
corners of this map the winds are represented by heads with puffed-out
cheeks, very indifferently engraved. The work also contains ornamental
initial letters engraved on wood. In a large one, the letter at the
beginning of the volume, the translator is represented offering his book
to Pope Paul II. who occupied the see of Rome from 1464 to 1471.

    [Footnote IV-43: Arnsheim, which is probably the place intended,
    is about twenty miles to the south-west of Mentz.]

Each map occupies two folio pages, and is printed on the verso of one
page and the recto of the next, in such a manner that when the book is
open the adjacent pages seem as if printed from one block. What may be
considered as the skeleton of each map,--such as indications of rivers
and mountains,--is coarsely cut; but as the names of the places are also
engraved on wood, the execution of those thirty-seven maps must have
been a work of considerable labour. In 1486 another edition with the
same cuts was printed at Ulm by John Regen at the cost of Justus de
Albano of Venice.

The idea of Leonard Holl’s Ptolemy was most likely suggested by an
edition of the same work printed at Rome in 1478 by Arnold Bukinck, the
successor of Conrad Sweinheim. In this edition the maps are printed from
plates of copper; and from the perfect similarity of the letters, as may
be observed in the names of places, there can be no doubt of their
having been stamped upon the plate by means of a punch in a manner
similar to that in which a bookbinder impresses the titles at the back
of a volume. It is absolutely impossible that such perfect uniformity in
the form of the letters could have been obtained, had they been
separately engraved on the plate by hand. Each single letter is as
perfectly like another of the same character,--the capital M for
instance,--as types cast by a letter-founder from the same mould. The
names of the places are all in capitals, but different sizes are used
for the names of countries and cities. The capitals at the margins
referring to the degrees of latitude are of very beautiful shape, and as
delicate as the capitals in modern hair-type.

At the back of some of the maps in the copy in the King’s Library at the
British Museum, the paper appears as if it had received, when in a damp
state, an impression from linen cloth. As this appearance of threads
crossing each other does not proceed from the texture of the paper, but
is evidently the result of pressure, I am inclined to think that it has
been occasioned by a piece of linen being placed between the paper and
the roller when the impressions were taken.

In the dedication of the work to the Pope it is stated that this edition
was prepared by Domitius Calderinus of Verona, who promised to collate
the Latin version with an ancient Greek manuscript; and that Conrad
Sweinheim, who was one of the first who introduced the art of printing
at Rome, undertook, with the assistance of “certain mathematical men,”
whom he taught, to “impress” the maps upon plates of copper. Sweinheim,
after having spent three years in preparing these plates, died before
they were finished; and Arnold Bukinck, a learned German printer,
completed the work, “that the emendations of Calderinus,--who also died
before the book was printed,--and the results of Sweinheim’s most
ingenious mechanical contrivances might not be lost to the learned

    [Footnote IV-44: “Magister vero Conradus Suueynheyn, Germanus,
    a quo formandorum Romæ librorum ars primum profecta est, occasione
    hinc sumpta posteritati consulens animum ad hanc doctrinam
    capessendam applicuit. Subinde mathematicis adhibitis viris
    quemadmodum tabulis eneis imprimerentur edocuit, triennioque in
    hac cura consumpto diem obiit. In cujus vigilarum laborumque
    partem non inferiori ingenio ac studio Arnoldus Buckinck e
    Germania vir apprime eruditus ad imperfectum opus succedens, ne
    Domitii Conradique obitu eorum vigiliæ emendationesque sine
    testimonio perirent neve virorum eruditorum censuram fugerent
    immensæ subtilitatis machinimenta, examussim ad unum
    perfecit.”--Dedication to the Pope, of Ptolemy’s Cosmography,
    Rome, 1478.]

An edition of Ptolemy in folio, with the maps engraved on copper, was
printed at Bologna by Dominico de Lapis with the erroneous date
M.CCCC.LXII. This date is certainly wrong, for no work from the press of
this printer is known of an earlier date than 1477; and the editor of
this edition, Philip Beroaldus the elder, was only born in 1450, if not
in 1453. Supposing him to have been born in the former year, he would
only be twelve years old in 1462. Raidel, who in 1737 published a
dissertation on this edition, thinks that two numerals--XX--had
accidentally been omitted, and that the date ought to be 1482. Breitkopf
thinks that one X might be accidentally omitted in a date and pass
uncorrected, but not two. He rather thinks that the compositor had
placed an I instead of an L, and that the correct date ought to stand
thus: M CCCC L XLI--1491. I am however of opinion that no instance of
the Roman numerals, L XLI, being thus combined to express 91, can be
produced. It seems most probable that the date 1482 assigned by Raidel
is correct; although his opinion respecting the numerals--XX--being
accidentally omitted may be wrong. It is extremely difficult to account
for the erroneous dates of many books printed previous to 1500. Several
of those dates may have been accidentally wrong set by the compositor,
and overlooked by the corrector; but others are so obvious that it is
likely they were designedly introduced. The bibliographer who should
undertake to enquire what the printers’ reasons might be for falsifying
the dates of their books, would be as likely to arrive at the truth, as
he would be in an enquiry into the reason of their sometimes adding
their name, and sometimes omitting it. The execution of the maps in the
edition of De Lapis is much inferior to that of the maps begun by
Sweinheim, and finished by Bukinck in 1478.

Bukinck’s edition of Ptolemy, 1478, is the second book which contains
impressions from copper-plates. Heineken, at page 233, refers to the
“Missale Herbipolense,” folio, 1481, as the first book printed in
Germany containing a specimen of copper-plate engraving. Dr. Dibdin,
however, in the 3rd volume of his Tour, page 306, mentions the same work
as having the date of 1479 in the prefatory admonition, and says that
the plate of a shield of arms--the only one in the volume--is noticed by
Bartsch in his “Peintre-Graveur,” vol. x. p. 57. The printer of the
edition of 1481 appears from Heineken to have been George Reyser. In the
“Modus Orandi secundum chorum Herbipolensem,” folio, printed by George
Reyser, “Herbipoli,” [at Wurtzburg,] 1485, there is on folio II. a
copper-plate engraving of the arms of Rudolph de Scherenberg, bishop of
that see. This plate is also described by Bartsch in his
“Peintre-Graveur,” vol. x. p. 156. The first book which appeared with
copper-plate engravings is intitled “Il Monte Sancto di Dio,” written by
Antonio Bettini, and printed at Florence in 1477 by Nicolo di Lorenzo
della Magna. As this book is of extreme rarity, I shall here give an
account of the plates from Mercier, who first called the attention of
bibliographers to it as being of an earlier date than the folio edition
of Dante, with copper-plate engravings, printed also by Nicolo Lorenzo
in 1481. This edition of Dante was generally supposed to be the first
book containing copper-plate engravings until Bettini’s work was
described by Mercier.

The work called “Il Monte Sancto di Dio” is in quarto, and according to
Mercier there ought to be a quire or gathering of four leaves at the
commencement, containing a summary of the work, which is divided into
three parts, with a table of the chapters. On the reverse of the last of
those four leaves is the first plate, which occupies the whole page, and
“measures nine inches and seven-eighths in height, by seven inches in
width.”[IV-45] This plate represents the Holy Mountain, on the top of
which Christ is seen standing in the midst of adoring angels. A ladder
is placed against this mountain, to which it is fastened with iron
chains, and on each step is engraved the name of a virtue, for instance,
Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and others. A figure clothed in a long
robe, and who appears to be a monk, is seen mounting the ladder. His
eyes are directed towards a huge crucifix placed half way up the hill to
the right of the ladder, and from his mouth there proceeds a label
inscribed with these words: “_Tirami doppo ti_,”--“Draw me up after
thee.” Another figure is seen standing at the foot of the mountain,
looking towards the top, and uttering these words: “_Levavi oculos meos
in montes_,” &c. The second plate occurs at signature Iv[IV-46] after
the 115th chapter. It also represents Christ in his glory, surrounded by
angels. It is only four inches and five lines high, by six inches wide,
French measure. The third plate, which is the same size as the second,
occurs at signature Pvij, and represents a view of Hell according to the
description of Dante. Those plates, which for the period are well enough
designed and executed, especially the second, were most likely engraved
on copper; and they seem to be by the same hand as those in the edition
of Dante of 1481, from the press of Nicolo di Lorenzo, who also printed
the work of Bettini.[IV-47] A copy of “Il Monte Sancto di Dio” is in
Earl Spencer’s Library; and a description and specimens of the cuts are
given by Dr. Dibdin in the Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol. iv. p. 30; and
by Mr. Ottley in the Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of
Engraving, vol. i. pp. 375-377.

    [Footnote IV-45: This is Mr. Ottley’s measurement, taken within
    the black line which bounds the subject. The width as given by
    Mercier does not accord with the above. He says that the plate
    “a neuf pouces et demi de haut sur six de large.”]

    [Footnote IV-46: Mr. Ottley says, “on the reverse of signature N

    [Footnote IV-47: “Lettres de M. l’Abbé de St. L***, [St. Léger,
    autrefois le pere Le Mercier, ancien Bibliothecaire de St.
    Genevieve] à M. le Baron de H*** sur différentes Editions rares du
    XV^e. Siécle,” p. 4-5. 8vo. Paris, 1783. A short biographic sketch
    of the Abbé Mercier St. Léger, one of the most eminent French
    Bibliographers of the last century, will be found in Dr. Dibdin’s
    Tour, vol. ii. p. 180.]

In the execution of the maps, the copper-plate engraver possesses a
decided advantage over the engraver on wood, owing to the greater
facility and clearness with which letters can be cut _in_ copper than
_on_ wood. In the engraving of letters on copper, the artist cuts the
form of the letter _into_ the plate, the character being thus in
_intaglio_; while in engraving on a block, the wood surrounding has to
be cut away, and the letter left in _relief_. On copper, using only the
graver,--for etching was not known in the fifteenth century,--as many
letters might be cut in one day as could be cut on wood in three.
Notwithstanding the disadvantage under which the ancient wood engravers
laboured in the execution of maps, they for many years contended with
the copper-plate printers for a share of this branch of business; and
the printers, at whose presses maps engraved on wood only could be
printed, were well inclined to support the wood engravers. In a folio
edition of Ptolemy, printed at Venice in 1511, by Jacobus Pentius de
Leucho, the outlines of the maps, with the indications of the mountains
and rivers, are cut on wood, and the names of the places are printed in
type, of different sizes, and with red and black ink. For instance, in
the map of Britain, which is more correct than any which had previously
appeared, the word “ALBION” is printed in large capitals, and the word
“GADINI” in small capitals, and both with red ink. The words “Curia” and
“Bremenium” are printed in small Roman characters, and with black ink.
The names of the rivers are also in small Roman, and in black ink. Such
of those maps as contain many names, are almost full of type. The double
borders surrounding them, within which the degrees of latitude are
marked, appear to have been formed of separate pieces of metal, in the
manner of wide double rules. At the head of several of the maps there
are figures of animals emblematic of the country. In the first map of
Africa there are two parrots; in the second an animal like a jackal, and
a non-descript; in the third, containing Egypt, a crocodile, and a
monstrous kind of fish like a dragon; and in the fourth, two parrots. In
the last, the “curious observer” will note a specimen of decorative
printing from two blocks of wood; for the beak, wing, and tail of one of
the parrots is printed in red.

In the last map,--of Loraine,--in an edition of Ptolemy, in folio,
printed at Strasburg in 1513, by John Schott, the attempt to print in
colours, in the manner of chiaro-scuro wood engravings, is carried yet
further. The hills and woods are printed green; the indications of towns
and cities, and the names of the most considerable places, are red;
while the names of the smaller places are black. For this map, executed
in three colours, green, red, and black, there would be required two
wood engravings and two forms of type, each of which would have to be
separately printed. The arms which form a border to the map are printed
in their proper heraldic colours.[IV-48] The only other specimen of
armorial bearings printed in colours from wood-blocks, that I am aware
of, is Earl Spencer’s arms in the first part of Savage’s Hints on
Decorative Printing, which was published in 1818, upwards of three
hundred years after the first essay.

    [Footnote IV-48: I regret that I have not had an opportunity of
    personally examining this map. There is a copy of Schott’s edition
    in the British Museum; but all the maps, except one of the sphere,
    are taken out. The above account of the map of Loraine is from
    Breitkopf’s interesting essay “Ueber den Druck der Geographischen
    Charten,” S. 7. 4to. Leipzig, 1777.]

At a later period a new method was adopted by which the wood engraver
was spared the trouble of cutting the letters, while the printer was
enabled to obtain a perfect copy of each map by a single impression. The
mode in which this was effected was as follows. The indications of
mountains, rivers, cities, and villages were engraved on the wood as
before, and blank spaces were left for the names. Those spaces were
afterwards cut out by means of a chisel or drill, piercing quite through
the block: and the names of the places being inserted in type, the whole
constituted only one “form,” from which an impression both of the cut
and the letters could be obtained by its being passed once through the
press. Sebastian Munster’s Cosmography, folio, printed at Basle in 1554,
by Henry Petri, affords several examples of maps executed in this
manner. This may be considered as one of the last efforts of the old
wood engravers and printers to secure to themselves a share of the
business of map-engraving. Their endeavours, however, were unavailing;
for within twenty years of that date, this branch of art was almost
exclusively in the hands of the copper-plate engravers. From the date of
the maps of Ortelius, Antwerp, 1570, engraved on copper by Ægidius
Diest, maps engraved on wood are rarely to be seen. The practice of
engraving the outlines and rivers on wood, and then piercing the block
and inserting the names of the places in type has, however, lately been
revived; and where publishers are obliged either to print maps with the
type or to give none at all, this mode may answer very well, more
especially when the object is to give the relative position of a few of
the principal places, rather than a crowded list of names. Most of the
larger maps in the Penny Cyclopædia are executed in this manner. The
holes in the blocks are pierced with the greatest rapidity by gouges of
different sizes acting vertically, and put in motion by machinery
contrived by Mr. Edward Cowper, to whose great mechanical skill the art
of steam-printing chiefly owes its perfection.

Having thus noticed consecutively the progress of map engraving, it may
not here be out of place to give a brief account of Breitkopf’s
experiment to print a map with separate pieces of metal in the manner of
type.[IV-49] Previous to 1776 some attempts had been made by a person
named Preusch, of Carlsruhe, to print maps by a process which he named
typometric, and who published an account of his plan, printed at the
press of Haass the Younger, of Basil. In 1776 Breitkopf sent a
communication to Busching’s Journal, containing some remarks on the
invention of Preusch, and stating that he had conceived a similar plan
upwards of twenty years previously, and that he had actually set up a
specimen and printed off a few copies, which he had given to his
friends. The veracity of this account having been questioned by an
illiberal critic, Breitkopf, in 1777, prefixed to his Essay on the
Printing of Maps a specimen composed of moveable pieces of metal in the
manner of types. He expressly declares that he considered his experiment
a failure; and that he only produced his specimen--a quarto map of the
country round Leipsic--in testimony of the truth of what he had
previously asserted, and to show that two persons might, independently
of each other, conceive an idea of the same invention, although they
might differ considerably in their mode of carrying it into effect.

    [Footnote IV-49: The following particulars respecting Breitkopf’s
    invention are derived from his essay “Ueber den Druck der
    Geographischen Charten,” previously referred to.]

He was first led to think on the practicability of printing maps with
moveable pieces of metal by considering that when the letters are
omitted there remain but hills, rivers, and the indications of places;
and for these he was convinced that representations consisting of
moveable pieces of metal might be contrived. Having, however, made the
experiment, he felt satisfied that the appearance of such a map was
unpleasing to the eye, and that the invention was not likely to be
practically useful. Had it not been for the publication of Preusch, he
says that he never would have thought of mentioning his invention,
except as a mechanical experiment; and to show that the execution of
maps in such a manner was within the compass of the printer’s art.

In the specimen which he gives, rivers are represented by minute
parallel lines, which are shorter or longer as the river contracts or
expands; and the junction of the separate pieces may be distinctly
perceived. For hills and trees there are distinct characters
representing those objects. Towns and large villages are distinguished
by a small church, and small villages by a small circle. Roads are
indicated by dotted parallel lines. For the title of the map large
capitals are used. The name of the city of LEIPSIC is in small capitals.
The names of towns and villages are in _Italic_; and of woods, rivers,
and hills, in Roman type. The general appearance of the map is
unpleasing to the eye. Breitkopf has displayed his ingenuity by
producing such a typographic curiosity, and his good sense in abandoning
his invention when he found that he could not render it useful.

Mr. Ottley, at page 755 of the second volume of his Inquiry, makes the
following remarks on the subject of cross-hatching in wood
engravings:--“It appears anciently to have been the practice of those
masters who furnished designs for the wood engravers to work from,
carefully to avoid all cross-hatchings, which, it is probable, were
considered beyond the power of the Xylographist to represent. Wolgemuth
perceived that, though difficult, this was not impossible; and in the
cuts of the Nuremberg Chronicle, the execution of which, (besides
furnishing the designs,) he doubtless superintended, a successful
attempt was first made to imitate the bold hatchings of a pen-drawing,
crossing each other, as occasion prompted the designer, in various
directions: to him belongs the praise of having been the first who duly
appreciated the powers of this art.”

Although it is true that cross-hatchings are not to be found in the
earliest wood engravings, yet Mr. Ottley is wrong in assigning this
material improvement in the art to Michael Wolgemuth; for cross-hatching
is introduced in the beautiful cut forming the frontispiece to the Latin
edition of Breydenbach’s Travels, folio, first printed at Mentz, by
Erhard Reuwich, in 1486,[IV-50] seven years before the Nuremberg
Chronicle appeared. The cut in the following page is a reduced but
accurate copy of Breydenbach’s frontispiece, which is not only the
finest wood engraving which had appeared up to that date, 1486, but is
in point of design and execution as superior to the best cuts in the
Nuremberg Chronicle, as the designs of Albert Durer are to the cuts in
the oldest editions of the “Poor Preachers’ Bible.”

    [Footnote IV-50: An edition of this work in German, with the same
    cuts, was printed by Reuwich in 1488. Within ten years, at least
    six different editions of this work were printed in Germany. It
    was also translated into Low Dutch, and printed in Holland.]

  Philippus de bicken miles]

In this cut, cross-hatching may be observed in the drapery of the female
figure, in the upper part of the two shields on each side of her, in the
border at the top of the cut, and in other places. Whether the female
figure be intended as a personification of the city of Mentz, as is
sometimes seen in old books of the sixteenth century, or for St.
Catherine, whose shrine on Mount Sinai was visited by Breydenbach in his
travels, I shall not pretend to determine. The arms on her right are
Breydenbach’s own; on her left are the arms of John, Count of Solms and
Lord of Mintzenberg, and at the bottom of the cut those of Philip de
Bicken, knight, who were Breydenbach’s companions to the holy sepulchre
at Jerusalem and the shrine of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. St.
Catherine, it may be observed, was esteemed the patroness of learned
men, and her figure was frequently placed in libraries in Catholic
countries, in the same manner as the bust of Minerva in the libraries of
ancient Greece and Rome. The name of the artist by whom the frontispiece
to Breydenbach’s travels was executed is unknown; but I have no
hesitation in declaring him to be one of the best wood engravers of the
period. As this is the earliest wood-cut in which I have noticed
cross-hatching, I shall venture to ascribe the merit of the invention to
the unknown artist, whoever he may have been; and shall consider the
date 1486 as marking the period when a new style of wood engraving was
introduced. Wolgemuth, as associated with wood engraving, has too long
been decked out with borrowed plumes; and persons who knew little or
nothing either of the history or practice of the art, and who are misled
by writers on whose authority they rely, believe that Michael Wolgemuth
was not only one of the best wood engravers of his day, but that he was
the first who introduced a material improvement into the practice of the
art. This error becomes more firmly rooted when such persons come to be
informed that he was the master of Albert Durer, who is generally, but
erroneously, supposed to have been the best wood engraver of his day.
Albert Durer studied under Michael Wolgemuth as a painter, and not as a
wood engraver; and I consider it as extremely questionable if either of
them ever engraved a single block. There are many evidences in Germany
of Wolgemuth having been a tolerably good painter for the age and
country in which he lived; but there is not one of his having engraved
on wood. In the Nuremberg Chronicle he is represented as having, in
conjunction with William Pleydenwurf, superintended the execution of the
wood-cuts contained in that book. Those cuts, which are frequently
referred to as excellent specimens of old wood engraving, are in fact
the most tasteless and worthless things that are to be found in any
book, ancient or modern. It is a book, however, that is easy to be
obtained; and it serves as a land-mark to superficial enquirers who are
perpetually referring to it as containing wood-cuts designed, if not
engraved, by Albert Durer’s master,--and such, they conclude, must
necessarily possess a very high degree of excellence.

Breydenbach was a canon of the cathedral church of Mentz, and he
dedicates the account of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and visit to
Mount Sinai to Berthold, archbishop of that see. The frontispiece,
although most deserving of attention as a specimen of wood engraving, is
not the only cut in the book which is worthy of notice. Views are given,
engraved on wood, of the most remarkable places which he visited;--and
those of Venice, Corfu, Modon, and the country round Jerusalem, which
are of great length, are inserted in the book as “folding plates.” Each
of the above views is too large to have been engraved on one block. For
that of Venice, which is about five feet long, and ten inches high,
several blocks must have been required, from each of which impressions
would have to be taken singly, and afterwards pasted together, as is at
present done in such views as are too wide to be contained on one sheet.
Those views, with respect to the manner in which they are executed, are
superior to everything of the same kind which had previously appeared.
The work also contains smaller cuts printed with the type, which are not
generally remarkable for their execution, although some of them are
drawn and engraved in a free and spirited manner. The following cut is a
reduced copy of that which is prefixed to a chapter intitled “De
Surianis qui Ierosolimis et locis illis manentes etiam se asserunt esse


In a cut of animals there is a figure of a giraffe,[IV-51] named by
Breydenbach “seraffa,” of a unicorn, a salamander, a camel, and an
animal something like an oran-outang, except that it has a tail. Of the
last the traveller observes, “non constat de nomine.” Some account of
this book, with fac-similes of the cuts, will be found in Dibdin’s
Bibliotheca Spenceriana, vol iii. pp. 216-228. In the copy there
described, belonging to Earl Spencer, the beautiful frontispiece was

    [Footnote IV-51: This is probably the first figure of the giraffe
    that was communicated to the “reading public” of Europe. Its
    existence was afterwards denied by several naturalists; and it is
    only within a comparatively recent period that the existence of
    such an animal was clearly established.]

Although a flowered border surrounding a whole page may be observed as
occurring twice in Veldener’s edition of the Fasciculus Temporum,
printed at Utrecht in 1480, yet I am inclined to think that the practice
of surrounding every page with an ornamental flowered border cut in
wood, was first introduced by the Parisian printers at a period somewhat
later. In 1488, an edition of the “Horæ in Laudem beatissimæ virginis
Mariæ,” in octavo, was printed at Paris by Anthony Verard, the text of
which is surrounded with ornamental borders. The practice thus
introduced was subsequently adopted by the printers of Germany and
Holland, more especially in the decoration of devotional works, such as
Horæ, Breviaries, and Psalters. Verard appears to have chiefly printed
works of devotion and love, for a greater number of Horæ and Romances
proceeded from his press than that of any other printer of his age. Most
of them contain wood-cuts, some of which, in books printed by him about
the beginning of the sixteenth century, are designed with considerable
taste and well engraved; while others, those for instance in “La Fleur
des Battailes,” 4to, 1505, are not superior to those in Caxton’s Chess:
it is, however, not unlikely that the cuts in “La Fleur des Battailes”
of this date had been used for an earlier edition.[IV-52]

    [Footnote IV-52: A good specimen of early French wood engraving
    may be seen in the large cut forming a kind of frontispiece to the
    “Roman du Roy Artus,” folio, printed at Rouen in 1488 by Jehan de
    Bourgeois. This cut, which occupies the whole page, represents
    King Arthur and his knights dining off the round table. A smaller
    one occurs at the beginning of the second part, and both are
    surrounded by ornamental borders.]

The “Hortus Sanitatis,” folio, printed at Mentz in 1491 by Jacobus
Meydenbach, is frequently referred to by bibliographers; not so much on
account of the many wood-cuts which it contains, but as being supposed
in some degree to confirm a statement in Sebastian Munster’s
Cosmography, and in Serrarius, De Rebus Moguntinis, where a _John_
Meydenbach is mentioned as being a partner with Gutemberg and Faust. Von
Murr, as has been previously noticed, supposed that this person was a
wood engraver; and Prosper Marchand,[IV-53] though without any
authority, calls _Jacobus_ Meydenbach his son or his relation.

    [Footnote IV-53: Hist. de l’Imprimerie, p. 49.]

This work, which is a kind of Natural History, explaining the uses and
virtues of herbs, fowls, fish, quadrupeds, minerals, drugs, and spices,
contains a number of wood-cuts, many of which are curious, as containing
representations of natural objects, but none of which are remarkable for
their execution as wood engravings. On the opposite page is a fac-simile
of the cut which forms the head-piece to the chapter “De Ovis.” The
figure, which possesses considerable merit, represents an old woman
going to market with her basket of eggs.

This is a fair specimen of the manner in which the cuts in the Hortus
Sanitatis are designed and executed. Among the most curious and best
designed are: the interior of an apothecary’s shop, on the reverse of
the first leaf; a monkey seated on the top of a fountain, in the chapter
on water; a butcher cutting up meat; a man selling cheese at a stall;
a woman milking a cow; and figures of the male and female mandrake. At
chapter 119, “De Pediculo,” a woman is represented brushing the head of
a boy with a peculiar kind of brush, which answers the purpose of a
small-toothed comb; and she appears to bestow her labour on no infertile
field, for each of her “sweepings,” which are seen lying on the floor,
would scarcely slip through the teeth of a garden rake. Meydenbach’s
edition has been supposed to be the first; and Linnæus, in the
Bibliotheca Botanica, has ascribed the work to one John Cuba,
a physician of Mentz; but other writers have doubted if this person were
really the author. The first edition of this work, under the title of
“Herbarus,” with a hundred and fifty wood-cuts, was printed at Mentz by
Peter Scheffer in 1484; and in 1485 he printed an enlarged edition in
German, containing three hundred and eighty cuts, under the title of
“Ortus Sanitatis oder Garten der Gesundheit.” Of the work printed by
Scheffer, Breydenbach is said to have been one of the compilers. Several
editions of the Hortus Sanitatis were subsequently printed, not only in
Germany, but in France, Holland, and Switzerland.


Having previously expressed my opinion respecting the wood-cuts in the
Nuremberg Chronicle, there will be less occasion to give a detailed
account of the book and the rubbish it contains here: in speaking thus
it may perhaps be necessary to say that this character is meant to apply
to the wood-cuts and not to the literary portion of the work, which
Thomas Hearne, of black-letter memory, pronounces to be extremely
“pleasant, useful, and curious.” With the wood-cuts the Rev. Dr. Dibdin
appears to have been equally charmed.

The work called the “Nuremberg Chronicle” is a folio, compiled by
Hartman Schedel, a physician of Nuremberg, and printed in that city by
Anthony Koburger in 1493. In the colophon it is stated that the views of
cities, and figures of eminent characters, were executed under the
superintendence of Michael Wolgemuth and William Pleydenwurff,
“mathematical men”[IV-54] and skilled in the art of painting. The total
number of impressions contained in the work exceeds two thousand, but
several of the cuts are repeated eight or ten times. The following
fac-simile will afford an idea of the style in which the portraits of
illustrious men contained in this often-cited chronicle are executed.

    [Footnote IV-54: The expression “adhibitis tamen viris
    mathematicis” in the Nuremberg Chronicle, is evidently borrowed
    from that,--“subinde mathematicis adhibitis viris,”--in the
    dedication of Bukinck’s Ptolemy, 1478, to the Pope. “Mathematical
    men,” in the present sense of the term, might be required to
    construct the maps in the edition of Ptolemy, but scarcely to
    design or engrave the vulgar figures and worthless views in the
    Nuremberg Chronicle.]


The above head, which the owner appears to be scratching with so much
earnestness, first occurs as that of Paris the lover of Helen; and it is
afterwards repeated as that of Thales, Anastasius, Odofredus, and the
poet Dante. In a like manner the economical printer has a stock-head for
kings and emperors; another for popes; a third for bishops; a fourth for
saints, and so on. Several cuts representing what might be supposed to
be particular events are in the same manner pressed into the general
service of the chronicler.

The peculiarity of the cuts in the Nuremberg Chronicle is that they
generally contain more of what engravers term “colour” than any which
had previously appeared. Before proceeding, however, to make any further
observations on these cuts, I shall endeavour to explain what engravers
mean by the term “colour,” as applied to an impression taken with black
ink from a copper-plate or a wood-block.

Though there is no “colour,” strictly speaking, in an engraving
consisting merely of black and white lines, yet the term is often
conventionally applied to an engraving which is supposed, from the
varied character of its lines and the contrast of light and shade, to
convey the idea of varied local colour as seen in a painting or a
water-colour drawing. For instance, an engraving is said to contain much
“colour” which appears clearly to indicate not only a variety of colour,
but also its different degrees of intensity in the several objects, and
which at the same time presents an effective combination of light and
shade. An engraver cannot certainly express the difference between green
and yellow, or red and orange, yet in engraving a figure, say that of a
cavalier by Vandyke, with brown leather boots, buff-coloured woollen
hose, doublet of red silk, and blue velvet cloak, a master of his art
will not only express a difference in the texture, but will also convey
an idea of the different parts of the dress being of different colours.
The Rent Day, engraved by Raimbach from a painting by Wilkie, and
Chelsea Pensioners hearing the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo read,
engraved by Burnet from a picture by the same artist, may be instanced
as copper-plate engravings which contain much “colour.”

Mr. Landseer, at pages 175, 176, of his Lectures on Engraving, makes the
following remarks on the term “colour,” as conventionally applied by
engravers in speaking of impressions from plates or from
wood-blocks:--“It is not uncommon among print-publishers, nor even
amongst engravers themselves, to hear the word COLOUR mistakenly
employed to signify _shade_; so that if they think an engraving too
dark, they say it has too much _colour_, too little colour if too
light--and so forth. The same ignorance which has hitherto reigned over
the pursuits of this Art, has here imposed its authority, and with the
same unfortunate success: I cannot however yield to it the same
submission, since it is not only a palpable misuse of a word, but would
lead to endless confusion when I come to explain to you my ideas of the
means the Art of engraving possesses of rendering local colour in the
abstract. Wherefore, whenever I may use the term _colour_, I mean it in
no other than its ordinary acceptation.”

“By MIDDLE TINT, I understand and mean, ‘the medium between strong light
and strong shade.’--These are Mr. Gilpin’s words; and he adds, with a
propriety that confers value on the definition--‘the phrase is _not at
all_ expressive of colour.’”

Whether we owe the term “colour,” as applied to engravings, to the
ignorance of printsellers or not, I shall not inquire; I only know that
a number of terms equally objectionable, if their primitive meaning be
considered, are used in speaking of the arts of painting and engraving
by persons who are certainly not ignorant. We have the words _high_ and
_deep_, which strictly relate to objects of lineal altitude or
profundity, applied to denote intensity of colour; and the very word
_intensity_, when thus applied, is only relative; the speaker being
unable to find a word directly expressive of his meaning, explains
himself by referring to some object or thing previously known, as, in
this instance, by reference to the _tension_ of a string or cord. The
word _tone_, which is so frequently used in speaking of pictures, is
derived from the sister art of music. I presume that none of these terms
were introduced into the nomenclature of painting and engraving by
ignorant persons, but that they were adopted from a necessity
originating from the very constitution of the human mind. It is well
known to every person who has paid any attention to the construction of
languages, that almost every abstract term is referable to, and derived
from, the name of some material object. The very word to “think,”
implying the exercise of our mental faculties, is probably an offset
from the substantive “thing.”

It is also to be observed, that Mr. Landseer speaks as if the term
_colour_ was used by ignorant printsellers, and of course ignorant
engravers, to signify _shade_ only. It is, however, used by them to
signify that there is a considerable proportion of dark lines and
hatchings in an engraving, although such lines and hatchings are not
expressive of shade, but merely indicative of deep colours. Dark brown,
red, and purple, for instance, even when receiving direct rays of light,
would naturally contain much conventional “colour” in an engraving; and
so would a bay horse, a coal barge, or the trunk of an old oak tree,
when receiving the light in a similar manner; all would be represented
as comparatively dark, when contrasted with lighter coloured
objects,--for instance, with a blue sky, grass, or light green
foliage,--although not in shade. An engraving that appears too light,
compared with the painting from which it is copied, is said to want
“colour,” and the copper-plate engraver remedies the defect by
thickening the dark lines, or by adding cross lines and hatchings. As a
copper-plate engraver can always obtain more “colour,” he generally
keeps his work light in the first stage of a plate; on the contrary,
a wood engraver keeps his first proof dark, as he cannot afterwards
introduce more “colour,” or give to an object a greater depth of shade.
A wood engraver can make his lines thinner if they be too thick, and
thus cause his subject to appear lighter; but if he has made them too
fine at first, and more colour be wanted, it is not in his power to
remedy the defect.

What Mr. Landseer’s ideas may be of the “means [which] the art of
engraving possesses of rendering local colour in the abstract,” I cannot
very well comprehend. I am aware of the lines used conventionally by
engravers to indicate heraldic colours in coat-armour; but I can see no
natural relation between perpendicular lines in an engraving and the red
colour of a soldier’s coat. I believe that no person could tell the
colour of the draperies in Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper from an
inspection of Raphael Morghen’s engraving of it. When Mr. Landseer says
that he will use the term “colour” in its “ordinary acceptation,” he
ought to have explained what the ordinary acceptation of the word meant
when applied to impressions from copper-plates which consist of nothing
but lines and interstices of black and white.


In the second paragraph Mr. Landseer displays great inconsistency in
praising Mr. Gilpin for his definition of the word “tint,” which, when
applied to engravings, is as objectionable as the term “colour.” It
appears that Mr. Gilpin may employ a conventional term with “singular
propriety,” while printsellers and engravers who should use the same
liberty would be charged with ignorance. Is there such a thing as a
_tint_ in nature which is of no colour? Mr. Gilpin’s lauded definition
involves a contradiction even when the word is applied to engravings, in
which every “tint” is indicative of positive colour. That “medium
between strong light and strong shade,” and which is yet of no colour,
remains to be discovered. Mr. Gilpin has supplied us with the “word,”
but it appears that no definite idea is necessary to be attached to it.
Having thus endeavoured to give a little brightness to the “colour” of
“ignorant printsellers and engravers,” I shall resume my observations on
the cuts in the Nuremberg Chronicle, to the “colour” of which the
preceding digression is to be ascribed.

The preceding cut, representing the Creation of Eve, is copied from one
of the best in the Nuremberg Chronicle, both with respect to design and
engraving. In this, compared with most other cuts previously executed,
much more colour will be perceived, which results from the closeness of
the single lines, as in the dark parts of the rock immediately behind
the figure of Eve; from the introduction of dark lines crossing each
other,--called “cross-hatching,”--as may be seen in the drapery of the
Divinity; and from the contrast of the shade thus produced with the
lighter parts of the cut.


The subjoined cut, of the same subject, copied from the Poor Preachers’
Bible,[IV-55] will, by comparison with the preceding, illustrate more
clearly than any verbal explanation the difference with respect to
colour between the wood-cuts in the old block-books and in most others
printed between 1462 and 1493, and those contained in the Nuremberg
Chronicle. In this cut there is no indication of colour; the shades in
the drapery which are expressed by hard parallel lines are all of equal
strength, or rather weakness; and the hair of Adam’s head and the
foliage of the tree are expressed nearly in the same manner.

    [Footnote IV-55: In the original, this cut, with one of Christ’s
    side pierced by a soldier, and another of Moses striking the rock,
    are intended to illustrate the mystery of the Sacrament of the
    Lord’s Supper.]

This manner of representing the creation of Eve appears to have been
general amongst the wood engravers of the fifteenth century, for the
same subject frequently occurs in old cuts executed previous to 1500. It
is frequently represented in the same manner in illuminated missals; and
in Flaxman’s Lectures on Sculpture a lithographic print is given, copied
from an ancient piece of sculpture in Wells Cathedral, where Eve is seen
thus proceeding from the side of Adam. In a picture by Raffaele the
creation of Eve is also represented in the same manner.

In the wood-cuts which occur in Italian books printed previous to 1500
the engravers have seldom attempted anything beyond a simple outline
with occasionally an indication of shade, or of colour, by means of
short parallel lines. The following is a fac-simile of a cut in
Bonsignore’s Italian prose translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, folio,
printed at Venice by the brothers De Lignano in 1497. It may serve at
once as a specimen of the other cuts contained in the work and of the
general style of engraving on wood in Italy for about ten years
preceding that period.


The subject illustrated is the difficult labour of Alcmena through the
malign influence of Lucina, as related by Ovid in the IXth book of the
Metamorphoses, from verse 295 to 314. This would appear to have been
rather a favourite subject with designers, for it is again selected for
illustration in Ludovico Dolce’s Transformationi, a kind of paraphrase
of the Metamorphoses, 4to, printed at Venice by Gabriel Giolito in 1557;
and it is also represented in the illustrations to the Metamorphoses
designed by Virgil Solis, and printed at Frankfort, in oblong 4to, by
George Corvinus and Sigismund Feyrabent, in 1569.[IV-56]

    [Footnote IV-56: Mr. Ottley in speaking of an edition of the
    Metamorphoses printed at Venice in 1509, with wood-cuts, mentions
    one of them as representing the “Birth of Hercules,” which is
    probably treated in a manner similar to those above noticed. Mr.
    Ottley also states that he had discovered the artist to be
    Benedetto Montagna, who also engraved on copper.--Inquiry, vol. ii
    p. 576.]

Of all the wood-cuts executed in Italy within the fifteenth century
there are none that can bear a comparison for elegance of design with
those contained in an Italian work entitled “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,”
a folio without printer’s name or place, but certainly printed at Venice
by Aldus in 1499. This “Contest between Imagination and Love, by a
general Lover,”--for such seems to be the import of the title,--is an
obscure medley of fable, history, antiquities, mathematics, and various
other matters, highly seasoned with erotic sketches[IV-57] suggested by
the prurient imagination of a monk,--for such the author was,--who, like
many others of his fraternity, in all ages, appears to have had “a _law_
not to marry, and a _custom_ not to live chaste.” The language in which
this chaos of absurdities is composed is almost as varied as the
subjects. The ground-work is Italian, on which the author engrafts at
will whole phrases of Latin, with a number of words borrowed from the
Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldee. “Certain persons,” says Tiraboschi,
“who admire a work the more the less they understand it, have fancied
that they could perceive in the Hypnerotomachia a complete summary of
human knowledge.”[IV-58]

    [Footnote IV-57: Bibliographers and booksellers in their
    catalogues specify with delight such copies as contain “la figura
    rappresentante il Sacrifizio à Priapo bene conservata,” for in
    some copies this choice subject is wanting, and in others
    partially defaced.]

    [Footnote IV-58: Some account of the Hypnerotomachia and its
    author is to be found in Prosper Marchand’s Dictionnaire

The name of the author was Francis Colonna, who was born at Venice, and
at an early age became a monk of the order of St. Dominic. In 1467 he
professed Grammar and Classical Literature in the convent of his order
at Trevisa; and he afterwards became Professor of Theology at Padua,
where he commenced Doctor in 1473, a degree which, according to the rule
of his order, he could not assume until he was forty. At the time of his
death, which happened in 1527, he could not thus be less than
ninety-four years old. The true name of this amorous dreaming monk, and
the fictitious one of the woman with whom he was in love, are thus
expressed by combining, in the order in which they follow each other,
the initial letters of the several chapters: “POLIAM FRATER FRANSISCUS
COLUMNA PERAMAVIT.”[IV-59] If any reliance can be placed on the text and
the cuts as narrating and representing real incidents, we may gather
that the stream of love had not run smooth with father Francis any more
than with simple laymen. With respect to the true name of the mistress
of father Francis, biographers are not agreed. One says that her name
was Lucretia Maura; and another that her name was Ippolita, and that she
belonged to the noble family of Poli, of Trevisa, and that she was a nun
in that city. From the name Ippolita some authors thus derive the
fictitious name Polia: Ippolita; Polita; Polia.

    [Footnote IV-59: In the life of Colonna in the Biographie
    Universelle, the last word is said to be “_adamavit_,” which is a
    mistake. The word formed by the initial letters of the nine last
    chapters is “_peramavit_,” as above.]

A second edition, also from the Aldine press, appeared in 1545; and in
the following year a French translation was printed at Paris under the
following title: “Le Tableau des riches inventions couvertes du voile
des feintes amourouses qui sont representées dans le Songe de Poliphile,
devoilées des ombres du Songe, et subtilment exposées.” Of this
translation several editions were published; and in 1804 J. G. Legrand,
an architect of some repute in Paris, printed a kind of paraphrase of
the work, in two volumes 12mo, which, however, was not published until
after his death in 1807. In 1811 Bodoni reprinted the original work at
Parma in an elegant quarto volume.

In the original work the wood-cuts with respect to design may rank among
the best that have appeared in Italy. The whole number in the volume is
one hundred and ninety-two; of which eighty-six relate to mythology and
ancient history; fifty-four represent processions and emblematic
figures: there are thirty-six architectural and ornamental subjects; and
sixteen vases and statues. Several writers have asserted that those cuts
were designed by Raffaele,[IV-60] while others with equal confidence,
though on no better grounds, have ascribed them to Andrea Mantegna.
Except from the resemblance which they are supposed to bear to the
acknowledged works of those artists, I am not aware that there is any
reason to suppose that they were designed by either of them. As
Raffaele, who was born in 1483, was only sixteen when the
Hypnerotomachia was printed, it is not likely that all, or even any of
those cuts were designed by him; as it is highly probable that all the
drawings would be finished at least twelve months before, and many of
them contain internal evidence of their not being the productions of a
youth of fifteen. That Andrea Mantegna might design them is possible;
but this certainly cannot be a sufficient reason for positively
asserting that he actually did. Mr. Ottley, at page 576, vol. ii, of his
Inquiry, asserts that they were designed by Benedetto Montagna, an
artist who flourished about the year 1500, and who is chiefly known as
an engraver on copper. The grounds on which Mr. Ottley forms his opinion
are not very clear, but if I understand him correctly they are as

    [Footnote IV-60: Heineken, in his catalogue of Raffaele’s works,
    mentions the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia, but he says that it is
    questionable whether he designed them all or only the eighty-six
    mythological and historical subjects.--Nachrichten von Künstlern
    und Kunst-Sachen, 2er Theil, S. 360. 8vo. Leipzig, 1769.]

In the collection of the late Mr. Douce there were sixteen wood
engravings which had been cut out of a folio edition of Ovid’s
Metamorphoses, printed at Venice in 1509. All those engravings, except
two, were marked with the letters +ía+, which according to Mr. Ottley
are the initials of the engraver, Ioanne Andrea di Vavassori. Between
some of the cuts from the Ovid, and certain engravings executed by
Montagna, it seems that Mr. Ottley discovered a resemblance; and as he
thought that he perceived a perfect similarity between the sixteen cuts
from the Ovid and those contained in the Hypnerotomachia, he considers
that Benedetto Montagna is thus proved to have been the designer of the
cuts in the latter work.

Not having seen the cuts in the edition of the Metamorphoses of 1509,
I cannot speak, from my own examination, of the resemblance between them
and those in the Hypnerotomachia; it, however, seems that Mr. Douce had
noticed the similarity as well as Mr. Ottley: but even admitting that
there is a perfect identity of style in the cuts of the above two works,
yet it by no means follows that, because a few of the cuts in the Ovid
resemble some copper-plate engravings executed by Benedetto Montagna, he
must have designed the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia. As the cuts in the
Ovid may, as Mr. Ottley himself remarks, have been used in an earlier
edition than that of 1509, it is not unlikely that they might appear
before Montagna’s copper-plates; and that the latter might copy the
designs of a greater artist than himself, and thus by his very
plagiarism acquire, according to Mr. Ottley’s train of reasoning, the
merit which may be justly due to another. If Benedetto Montagna be
really the designer of the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia, he has certainly
excelled himself, for they certainly display talent of a much higher
order than is to be perceived in his copper-plate engravings. Besides
the striking difference with respect to drawing between the wood-cuts in
Poliphilo[IV-61] and the engravings of Benedetto Montagna, two of the
cuts in the former work have a mark which never appears in any of that
artist’s known productions, which generally have either his name at
length or the letters B. M. In the third cut of Poliphilo, the
designer’s or engraver’s mark, a small b, may be perceived at the foot,
to the right; and the same mark is repeated in a cut at signature C.

    [Footnote IV-61: The author thus names his hero in his Italian
    title: “_Poliphilo_ incomincia la sua hypnerotomachia ad
    descrivere et l’hora et il tempo quando gli appar ve in somno,

A London bookseller in his catalogue published in 1834, probably
speaking on Mr. Ottley’s hint that the cuts in the Ovid of 1509 might
have appeared in an earlier edition, thus describes Bonsignore’s Ovid,
a work in which the wood-cuts are of a very inferior description, and of
which a specimen is given in a preceding page: “Ovidii Metamorphoseos
Vulgare, con le Allegorie, [Venezia, 1497,] with numerous beautiful
wood-cuts, apparently by the artist who executed the Poliphilo, printed
by Aldus in 1499.” The wood-cuts in the Ovid of 1497 are as inferior to
those in Poliphilo as the commonest cuts in children’s school-books are
inferior to the beautiful wood-cuts in Rogers’s Pleasures of Memory,
printed in 1812, which were designed by Stothard and engraved by
Clennell. It is but fair to add, that the cuts used in the Ovid of 1497,
printed by the brothers De Lignano, cannot be the same as those in the
Ovid of 1509 referred to by Mr. Ottley; for though the subjects may be
nearly the same, the cuts in the latter edition are larger than those in
the former, and have besides an engraver’s mark which is not to be seen
in any of the cuts in the edition of 1497.

The five following cuts are fac-similes traced line for line from the
originals in Poliphilo. In the first, Mercury is seen interfering to
save Cupid from the anger of Venus, who has been punishing him and
plucking the feathers from his wings. The cause of her anger is
explained by the figure of Mars behind the net in which he and Venus had
been inclosed by Vulcan. Love had been the cause of his mother’s


In the following cut Cupid is represented as brought by Mercury before
Jove, who in the text, “in Athica lingua,” addresses the God of Love, as
“ΣΥΜΟΙΓΛΥΚΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΠΙΚΡΟΣ”--“at once sweet and bitter.” In the
inscription in the cut, “ΑΛΛΑ” is substituted for “ΚΑΙ.”


In the next cut Cupid appears piercing the sky with a dart, and thus
causing a shower of gold to fall. The figures represent persons of all
conditions whom he has wounded, looking on with amazement.


The three preceding cuts, in the original work, appear as compartments
from left to right on one block. They are here given separate for the
convenience of printing, as the page is not wide enough to allow of
their being placed as in the original folio.


The subjoined cut is intended to represent Autumn, according to a
description of the figure in the text, where the author is speaking of
an altar to be erected to the four seasons. On one of the sides he
proposes that the following figure should be represented “with a jolly
countenance, crowned with vine leaves, holding in one hand a bunch of
grapes, and in the other a cornucopia, with an inscription: ‘MUSTULENTO
AUTUMNO S.’”[IV-62] The face of jolly Autumn is indeed like that of one
who loved new wine, and his body seems like an ample skin to keep the
liquor in;--Sir John Falstaff playing Bacchus ere he had grown old and
inordinately fat.

    [Footnote IV-62: The epithets applied to the different seasons as
    represented on this votive altar are singularly beautiful and
    appropriate: “Florido Veri; Flavæ Messi; Mustulento Autumno; Hyemi
    Æoliæ, Sacrum.”]

The following figure of Cupid is copied from the top of a fanciful
military standard described by the author; and on a kind of banner
beneath the figure is inscribed the word “ΔΟΡΙΚΤΗΤΟΙ”--“Gained in war.”


The following is a specimen of one of the ornamental vases contained in
the work. It is not, like the five preceding cuts, of the same size as
the original, but is copied on a reduced scale.


The simple style in which the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia are engraved,
continued to prevail, with certain modifications, in Italy for many
years after the method of cross-hatching became general in Germany; and
from 1500 to about 1530 the characteristic of most Italian wood-cuts is
the simple manner in which they are executed compared with the more
laboured productions of the German wood engravers. While the German
proceeds with considerable labour to obtain “colour,” or shade, by means
of cross-hatching, the Italian in the early part of the sixteenth
century endeavours to attain his object by easier means, such as leaving
his lines thicker in certain parts, and in others, indicating shade by
means of short slanting parallel lines. In the execution of flowered or
ornamented initial letters a decided difference may frequently be
noticed between the work of an Italian and a German artist. The German
mostly, with considerable trouble, cuts his flourishes, figures, and
flowers in relief, according to the general practice of wood engravers;
the Italian, on the contrary, often cuts them, with much greater ease,
in _intaglio_; and thus the form of the letter, and its ornaments,
appear, when printed, white upon a black ground.[IV-63] The letter C at
the commencement of the present chapter is an example of the German
style, with the ornamental parts in _relief_; the letter M at the
commencement of chapter V. is a specimen of the manner frequently
adopted by old Italian wood engravers, the form of the letter and the
ornamental foliage being cut in _intaglio_. At a subsequent period a
more elaborate manner of engraving began to prevail in Italy, and
cross-hatching was almost as generally employed to obtain depth of
colour and shade as in Germany. The wood-cuts which appear in works
printed at Venice between 1550 and 1570 are generally as good as most
German wood-cuts of the same period; and many of them, more especially
those in books printed by the Giolitos, are executed with a clearness
and delicacy which have seldom been surpassed.

    [Footnote IV-63: The letter M at the commencement of the next
    chapter affords an example of this style of engraving.]

Before concluding the present chapter, which is more especially devoted
to the consideration of wood engraving in the first period of its
connexion with typography, it may not be improper to take a brief glance
at the state of the art as practised by the Briefmalers and
Formschneiders of Germany, who were the first to introduce the practice
of block-printing, and who continued to exercise this branch of their
art for many years after typography had been generally established
throughout Europe. That the ancient wood engravers continued to practise
the art of block-printing till towards the close of the fifteenth
century, there can be little doubt. There is an edition of the Poor
Preachers’ Bible, with the date 1470, printed from wood-blocks, without
place or engraver’s name, but having at the end, as a mark, two shields,
on one of which is a squirrel, and on the other something like two
pilgrim’s staves crossed. Another edition of the same work, though not
from the same blocks, appeared in 1471. In this the engraver’s mark is
two shields, on one of which is a spur, probably a rebus for the name of
“Sporer;” in the same manner that a pair of folding-doors represented
the name “Thurer,” or “Durer.” An engraver of the name of Hans Sporer
printed an edition of the Ars Moriendi from wood-blocks in 1473; and in
the preceding year Young Hans, Briefmaler, of Nuremberg, printed an
edition of the Antichrist in the same manner.[IV-64]

    [Footnote IV-64: Von Murr says that “Young Hans” was
    unquestionably the son of “Hans Formschneider,” whose name appears
    in the town-books of Nuremberg from 1449 to 1490. He also thinks
    that he might be the same person as Hans Sporer.--Journal,
    2 Theil, S. 140, 141.]

It is probable that most of the single sheets and short tracts, printed
from wood-blocks, preserved in the libraries of Germany, were printed
between 1440 and 1480. Books consisting of two or more sheets printed
from wood-blocks are of rare occurrence with a date subsequent to 1480.
Although about that period the wood engravers appear to have resigned
the printing of books entirely to typographers, yet for several years
afterwards they continued to print broadsides from blocks of wood; and
until about 1500 they continued to compete with the press for the
printing of “Wand-Kalendars,” or sheet Almanacks to be hung up against a
wall. Several copies of such Almanacks, engraved between 1470 and 1500,
are preserved in libraries on the Continent that are rich in specimens
of early block-printing. But even this branch of their business the wood
engravers were at length obliged to abandon; and at the end of the
fifteenth century the practice of printing pages of text from engraved
wood-blocks may be considered as almost extinct in Germany. It probably
began with a single sheet, and with a single sheet it ended; and its
origin, perfection, decline, and extinction are comprised within a
century. 1430 may mark its origin; 1450 its perfection; 1460 the
commencement of its decline; and 1500 its fall.

In an assemblage of wood engravings printed at Gotha between 1808 and
1816,[IV-65] from old blocks collected by the Baron Von Derschau, there
are several to which the editor, Zacharias Becker, assigns an earlier
date than the year 1500. It is not unlikely that two or three of those
in his oldest class, A, may have been executed previous to that period;
but there are others in which bad drawing and rude engraving have been
mistaken for indubitable proofs of antiquity. There are also two or
three in the same class which I strongly suspect to be modern forgeries.
It would appear from a circumstance mentioned in Dr. Dibdin’s
Bibliographical Tour,[IV-66] and referred to at page 236 of the present
work, that the Baron was a person from whose collection copper-plate
engravings of questionable date had proceeded as well as wood-blocks.
The following is a reduced copy of one of those suspicious blocks, but
which the editor considers to be of an earlier date than the St.
Christopher in the collection of Earl Spencer. I am however of opinion
that it is of comparatively modern manufacture.

    [Footnote IV-65: The title of this work is: “Holzschnitte alter
    Deutscher Meister in den Original-Platten gesammelt von Hans
    Albrecht Von Derschau. Als ein Beytrag zur Kunstgeschichte
    herausgegeben, und mit einer Abhandlung über die Holzschneidekunst
    begleitet, von Rudolph Zacharias Becker.” It is in large folio,
    with the text in German and French. The first part was published
    at Gotha in 1808; the second in 1810; and the third in 1816.]

    [Footnote IV-66: Vol. iii. p. 445, edit. 1829.]


The inscription, intended for old German, at the bottom of the cut, is
literally as follows: “_Hiet uch, vor den Katczen dy vorn lecken unde
hinden kraiczen_”--that is: “Beware of the cats that lick before and
scratch behind.” It is rather singular that the editor--who describes
the subject as a cat which appears to teach her kitten “le Jeu de
Souris”--should not have informed his readers that more was meant by
this inscription than met the eye, and that it was in fact part of a
German proverb descriptive of a class of females who are particularly
dangerous to simple young men.[IV-67] Among the cuts supposed to have
been engraved previous to the year 1500, another is given which I
suspect also of being a forgery, and by the same person that engraved
the cat. The cut alluded to represents a woman sitting beside a young
man, whose purse she is seen picking while she appears to fondle him.
A hawk is seen behind the woman, and an ape behind the man. At one side
is a lily, above which are the words “+Ich wart+.” At the top of the cut
is an inscription,--which seems, like that in the cut of the cat, to be
in affectedly old German,--describing the young man as a prey for hawks
and a fool, and the woman as a flatterer, who will fawn upon him until
she has emptied his pouch. The subjects of those two cuts, though not
apparently, are, in reality, connected. In the first we are presented
with the warning, and in the latter with the example. Von Murr--whom Dr.
Dibdin suspects to have forged the French St. Christopher--describes in
his Journal impressions from those blocks as old wood-cuts in the
collection of Dr. Silberrad;[IV-68] and it is certainly very singular
that the identical blocks from which Dr. Silberrad’s scarce old wood
engravings were taken should afterwards happen to be discovered and come
into the possession of the Baron Von Derschau.

    [Footnote IV-67: “+Huren sind böse katzen die vornen lecken und
    hinten kratzen.+”]

    [Footnote IV-68: Journal zur Kunstgeschichte, 2er Theil, S. 125,

In the same work there is a rude wood-cut of St. Catharine and three
other saints; and at the back of the block there is also engraved the
figure of a soldier. At the bottom of the cut of St. Catharine, the name
of the engraver, “+Jorg Glockendon+,” appears in old German characters.
As “Glockendon” or “Glockenton” was the name of a family of artists who
appear to have been settled at Nuremberg early in the fifteenth century,
Becker concludes that the cut in question was engraved prior to 1482,
and that this “Jorg Glockendon” was “the first wood engraver known by
name, and not John Schnitzer of Arnsheim,--who engraved the maps in
Leonard Holl’s Ptolemy, printed in the above year,--as Heineken and
others pretend.” That the cut was engraved previous to 1482 rests merely
on Becker’s conjecture; and a person who would assert that it was
engraved ten or fifteen years later, would perhaps be nearer the truth.
John Schnitzer, however, is not the first wood engraver known by name.
The name of Hans Sporer appears in the Ars Moriendi of 1473; and it is
not probable that Hartlieb’s Chiromantia, in which we find the name
“+Jorg Schapff zu Augspurg+,” was engraved subsequent to 1480. It would
appear that Becker did not consider “Hans Briefmaler,” who occurs as a
wood engraver between 1470 and 1480, as a person “known by name,” though
it is probable that he had no other surname than that which was derived
from his profession.


Although Derschau’s collection contains a number of old cuts which are
well worth preserving, more especially among those executed in the
sixteenth century; yet it also contains a large portion of worthless
cuts, which are neither interesting from their subjects nor their
antiquity, and which throw no light on the progress of the art. There
are also not a few modern antiques which are only illustrative of the
credulity of the collector, who mistakes rudeness of execution for a
certain test of antiquity. According to this test the following cut
ought to be ascribed to the age of Caxton, and published with a long
commentary as an undoubted specimen of early English wood engraving. It
is however nothing more than an impression from a block engraved with a
pen-knife by a printer’s apprentice between 1770 and 1780. It was one of
the numerous cuts of a similar kind belonging to the late Mr. George
Angus of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who used them as head-pieces to chap-books
and broadside histories and ballads.

Besides the smaller block-books, almanacks, and broadsides of text,
executed by wood engravers between 1460 and 1500, they also executed a
number of single cuts, some accompanied with a few sentences of text
also cut in wood, and others containing only figures. Many of the sacred
subjects were probably executed for convents in honour of a favourite
saint; while others were engraved by them on their own account for sale
among the poorer classes of the people, who had neither the means to
purchase, nor the ability to read, a large “picture-book” which
contained a considerable portion of explanatory text. In almost every
one of the works executed by the Briefmalers and Formschneiders
subsequent to the invention of typography, there is scarcely a single
cut to be found that possesses the least merit either in design or
execution. They appear generally to have been mere workmen, who could
draw and engrave figures on wood in a rude style, but who had not the
slightest pretensions to a knowledge of art.

Having now brought the history of wood engraving to the end of the
fifteenth century, I shall here conclude the present chapter, without
expressly noticing such works of Albert Durer as were certainly engraved
on wood previous to the year 1500. The designs of this great promoter of
wood engraving mark an epoch in the progress of the art; and will, with
others of the same school, more appropriately form the subject of the
next chapter.




  Chiaro-Scuro Engraving on Wood -- A Copper-Plate by Mair Mistaken
  for the First Chiaro-Scuro -- Dotted Backgrounds in Old Wood-Cuts --
  Albert Durer Probably Not a Wood-Engraver -- His Birth -- A Pupil of
  Michael Wolgemuth -- His Travels -- Cuts of the Apocalypse Designed
  by Him -- His Visit to Venice in 1506 -- The History of the Virgin
  and Christ’s Passion Engraved on Wood from his Designs -- His
  Triumphal Car and Triumphal Arch of the Emperor Maximilian -- His
  Invention of Etching -- His Carving -- Visit to the Netherlands --
  His Death -- Wood-Cuts Designed by L. Cranach, H. Burgmair, and
  H. Schæfflein -- The Adventures of Sir Theurdank -- The Wise King --
  The Triumphs of Maximilian -- Ugo Da Carpi -- Lucas Van Leyden --
  William De Figuersnider -- Ursgraff -- Cuts Designed by Unknown
  Artists Between 1500 and 1528.

Most authors who have written on the history of engraving have
incidentally noticed the art of chiaro-scuro engraving on wood, which
began to be practised early in the sixteenth century.[V-1] The honour of
the invention has been claimed for Italy by Vasari and other Italian
writers, who seem to think that no improvement in the arts of design and
engraving can originate on this side of the Alps. According to their
account, chiaro-scuro engraving on wood was first introduced by Ugo da
Carpi, who executed several pieces in that manner from the designs of
Raffaele. But, though confident in their assertions, they are weak in
their proofs; for they can produce no chiaro-scuros by Ugo da Carpi, or
by any other Italian engraver, of an earlier date than 1518. The
engravings of Italian artists in this style are not numerous, previous
to 1530, and we can scarcely suppose that the earliest of them was
executed before 1515. That the art was known and practised in Germany
several years before this period there can be no doubt; for a
chiaro-scuro wood engraving, a Repose in Egypt, by Lucas Cranach, is
dated 1509; two others by Hans Baldung Grün are dated 1509 and 1510; and
a portrait, in the same style, by Hans Burgmair, is dated 1512.

    [Footnote V-1: Chiaro-scuros are executed by means of two or more
    blocks, in imitation of a drawing in sepia, India ink, or any
    other colour of two or more shades. The older chiaro-scuros are
    seldom executed with more than three blocks; on the first of which
    the general outline of the subject and the stronger shades were
    engraved and printed in the usual manner; from the second the
    lighter shades were communicated; and from the third a general
    tint was printed over the impressions of the other two.]

Some German writers, not satisfied with these proofs of the art being
practised in Germany before it was known in Italy, refer to an
engraving, dated 1499, by a German artist of the name of Mair, as one of
the earliest executed in this manner. This engraving, which is from a
copper-plate, cannot fairly be produced as evidence on the point in
dispute; for though it bears the appearance of a chiaro-scuro engraving,
yet it is not so in reality; for on a narrow inspection we may perceive
that the light touches have neither been preserved, nor afterwards
communicated by means of a block or a plate, but have been added with a
fine pencil after the impression was taken. It is, in fact, nothing more
than a copper-plate printed on dark-coloured paper, and afterwards
heightened with a kind of white and yellow body-colour. It is very
likely, however, that the subject was engraved and printed on a dark
ground with the express intention of the lights being subsequently added
by means of a pencil. The artist had questionless wished to produce an
imitation of a chiaro-scuro drawing; but he certainly did not effect his
purpose in the same manner as L. Cranach, H. Burgmair, or Ugo da Carpi,
whose chiaro-scuro engravings had the lights preserved, and required no
subsequent touching with the pencil to give to them that character.

The subject of this engraving is the Nativity, and there is an
impression of it in the Print Room of the British Museum.[V-2] In the
foreground, about the middle of the print, is the Virgin seated with the
infant Jesus in her lap. At her feet is a cradle of wicker-work, and to
the left is an angel kneeling in adoration. On the same side, but
further distant, is Joseph leaning over a half door, holding a candle in
one hand and shading it with the other. In the background is the stable,
in which an ox and an ass are seen; and the directing star appears
shining in the sky. The print is eight inches high, and five inches and
three-eighths wide; at the top is the date 1499, and at the bottom the
engraver’s name, MAIR. It is printed in black ink on paper which
previous to receiving the impression had been tinted or stained a
brownish-green colour. The lights have neither been preserved in the
plate nor communicated by means of a second impression, but have been
laid on by the hand with a fine pencil. The rays of the star, and the
circles of light surrounding the head of the Virgin, and also that of
the infant, are of a pale yellow, and the colour from its chalky
appearance seems very like the touches of a crayon. The lights in the
draperies and in the architectural parts of the subject have been laid
on with a fine pencil guided by a steady hand. That the engraver
intended his work to be finished in this manner there can be little
doubt; and the impression referred to affords a proof of it; for
Joseph’s candle, though he shades it with his left hand, in reality
gives no light. The engraver had evidently intended that the light
should be added in positive body colour; but the person--perhaps the
engraver himself--whose business it was to add the finishing touches to
the impression, has neglected to light Joseph’s candle.[V-3]

    [Footnote V-2: This print is one of the valuable collection left
    to the Museum by the Rev. C. M. Cracherode, and the following
    remark in that gentleman’s writing is inserted on the opposite
    page of the folio in which it is preserved: “The Presepe is a
    plain proof that printing in chiaro-scuro was known before the
    time of Ugo da Carpi, who is erroneously reputed the inventor of
    this art at the beginning of the sixteenth century.” The print in
    question is certainly not a proof of the art of engraving in
    chiaro-scuro; and Mr. Ottley has added the following correction in
    pencil: “But the white here is put on with a pencil, and not left
    in printing, as it would have been if the tint had been added by a
    wooden block after the copper-plate had been printed.”]

    [Footnote V-3: Bartsch describes this print in his
    Peintre-Graveur, tom. vi. p. 364, No. 4; but he takes no notice of
    Joseph holding a candle, nor of its wanting a light.]

Towards the latter end of the fifteenth century,[V-4] a practice was
introduced by the German wood engravers of dotting the dark parts of
their subjects with white, more especially in cuts where the figures
were intended to appear light upon a dark ground; and about the
beginning of the sixteenth, this mode of “killing the black,” as it is
technically termed, was very generally prevalent among the French wood
engravers, who, as well as the Germans and Dutch, continued to practise
it till about 1520, when it was almost wholly superseded by
cross-hatching; a mode of producing shade which had been much practised
by the German engravers who worked from the drawings of Durer, Cranach,
and Burgmair, and which about that time seems to have been generally
adopted in all countries where the art had made any progress. The two
following cuts, which are from an edition of “Heures à l’Usaige de
Chartres,” printed at Paris by Simon Vostre, about 1502, are examples of
this mode of diminishing the effects of a ground which would otherwise
be entirely black. Books printed in France between 1500 and 1520 afford
the most numerous instances of dark backgrounds dotted with white. In
many cuts executed about the latter period the dots are of larger size
and more numerous in proportion to the black, and they evidently have
been produced by means of a lozenge-pointed tool, in imitation of

    [Footnote V-4: Some single cuts executed in this manner are
    supposed to be at least as old as the year 1450. The earliest that
    I have noticed in a book occur in a Life of Christ printed at
    Cologne about 1485.]

The greatest promoter of the art of wood engraving, towards the close of
the fifteenth and in the early part of the sixteenth century, was
unquestionably Albert Durer; not however, as is generally supposed, from
having himself engraved the numerous wood-cuts which bear his mark, but
from his having thought so well of the art as to have most of his
greatest works engraved on wood from drawings made on the block by
himself. Until within the last thirty years, most writers who have
written on the subject of art, have spoken of Albert Durer as a wood
engraver; and before proceeding to give any account of his life, or
specimens of some of the principal wood engravings which bear his mark,
it appears necessary to examine the grounds of this opinion.



There are about two hundred subjects engraved on wood which are marked
with the initials of Albert Durer’s name; and the greater part of them,
though evidently designed by the hand of a master, are engraved in a
manner which certainly denotes no very great excellence. Of the
remainder, which are better engraved, it would be difficult to point out
one which displays execution so decidedly superior as to enable any
person to say positively that it must have been cut by Albert Durer
himself. The earliest engravings on wood with Durer’s mark are sixteen
cuts illustrative of the Apocalypse, first published in 1498; and
between that period and 1528, the year of his death, it is likely that
nearly all the others were executed. The cuts of the Apocalypse
generally are much superior to all wood engravings that had previously
appeared, both in design and execution; but if they be carefully
examined by any person conversant with the practice of the art, it will
be perceived that their superiority is not owing to any delicacy in the
lines which would render them difficult to engrave, but from the ability
of the person by whom they were drawn, and from his knowledge of the
capabilities of the art. Looking at the state of wood engraving at the
period when those cuts were published, I cannot think that the artist
who made the drawings would experience any difficulty in finding persons
capable of engraving them. In most of the wood-cuts supposed to have
been engraved by Albert Durer we find cross-hatching freely introduced;
the readiest mode of producing effect to an artist drawing on wood with
a pen or a black-lead pencil, but which to the wood engraver is attended
with considerable labour. Had Albert Durer engraved his own designs,
I am inclined to think that he would not have introduced cross-hatching
so frequently, but would have endeavoured to attain his object by means
which were easier of execution. What is termed “cross-hatching” in wood
engraving is nothing more than black lines crossing each other, for the
most part diagonally; and in _drawing_ on wood it is easier to produce a
shade by this means, than by thickening the lines; but in _engraving_ on
wood it is precisely the reverse; for it is easier to leave a thick line
than to cut out the interstices of lines crossing each other. Nothing is
more common than for persons who know little of the history of wood
engraving, and still less of the practice, to refer to the frequent
cross-hatching in the cuts supposed to have been engraved by Albert
Durer as a proof of their excellence: as if the talent of the artist
were chiefly displayed in such parts of the cuts as are in reality least
worthy of him, and which a mere workman might execute as well. In
opposition to this vulgar error I venture to assert, that there is not a
wood engraver in London of the least repute who cannot produce
_apprentices_ to cut fac-similes of any cross-hatching that is to be
found, not only in the wood engravings supposed to have been executed by
Albert Durer, but in those of any other master. The execution of
cross-hatching requires time, but very little talent; and a moderately
clever lad, with a steady hand and a lozenge-pointed tool, will cut in a
year a _square yard_ of such cross-hatching as is generally found in the
largest of the cuts supposed to have been engraved by Albert Durer. In
the works of Bewick, scarcely more than one trifling instance of
cross-hatching is to be found; and in the productions of all other
modern wood engravers who have made their own drawings, we find
cross-hatching sparingly introduced; while in almost every one of the
cuts designed by Durer, Cranach, Burgmair, and others who are known to
have been painters of eminence in their day, it is of frequent
occurrence. Had these masters engraved their own designs on wood, as has
been very generally supposed, they probably would have introduced much
less cross-hatching into their subjects; but as there is every reason to
believe that they only made the drawing on the wood, the engravings
which are ascribed to them abound in lines which are readily made with a
pen or a pencil, but which require considerable time to cut with a

At the period that Durer published his illustrations of the Apocalypse,
few wood-cuts of much merit either in design or execution had appeared
in printed books; and the wood engravers of that age seem generally to
have been mere workmen, who only understood the mechanical branch of
their art, but who were utterly devoid of all knowledge of composition
or correct drawing; and there is also reason to believe that wood-cuts
at that period, and even for some time after, were not unfrequently
engraved by women.[V-5] As the names of those persons were probably not
known beyond the town in which they resided, it cannot be a matter of
surprise that neither their marks nor initials should be found on the
cuts which they engraved from the drawings of such artists as Albert

    [Footnote V-5: In a folio of Albert Durer’s drawings in the Print
    Room at the British Museum there is a portrait of “_Fronica,
    Formschneiderin_,” with the date 1525. In 1433 we find a woman at
    Nuremberg described as a card-maker: “_Eli. Kartenmacherin_.” It
    is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that the earliest
    German wood engravers were card-makers.--See chapter II. p. 41.]

It perhaps may be objected, that as Albert Durer’s copper-plate
engravings contain only his mark, in the same manner as the wood
engravings, it might with equal reason be questioned if they were really
executed by himself. Notwithstanding the identity of the marks, there
is, however, a wide difference between the two cases. In the age of
Albert Durer most of the artists who engraved on copper were also
painters; and most of the copper-plate engravings which bear his mark
are such as none but an artist of great talent could execute. It would
require the abilities of a first-rate copper-plate engraver of the
present day to produce a fac-simile of his best copper-plates; while a
wood engraver of but moderate skill would be able to cut a fac-simile of
one of his best wood engravings after the subject was drawn for him on
the block. The best of Albert Durer’s copper-plates could only have been
engraved by a master; while the best of his wood-cuts might be engraved
by a working Formschneider who had acquired a practical knowledge of his
art by engraving, under the superintendence of Michael Wolgemuth and
William Pleydenwurff, the wood-cuts for the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Von Murr, who was of opinion that Albert Durer engraved his own designs
on wood, gives a letter of Durer’s in the ninth volume of his Journal
which he thinks is decisive of the fact. The letter, which relates to a
wood engraving of a shield of arms, was written in 1511, and is to the
following effect: “Dear Michael Beheim, I return you the arms, and beg
that you will let it remain as it is. No one will make it better, as I
have done it according to art and with great care, as those who see it
and understand the matter will tell you. If the labels were thrown back
above the helmet, the volet would be covered.”[V-6] This letter,
however, is by no means decisive, for it is impossible to determine
whether the “arms” which the artist returned were a finished engraving
or merely a drawing on wood.[V-7] From one or two expressions it seems
most likely to have been a drawing only; for in a finished cut
alterations cannot very well be introduced; and it seems most probable
that Michael Beheim’s objections would be made to the drawing of the
arms before they were engraved, and not to the finished cut. But even
supposing it to have been the engraved block which Durer returned, this
is by no means a proof of his having engraved it himself, for he might
have engravers employed in his house in order that the designs which he
drew on the blocks might be executed under his own superintendence. The
Baron Derschau indeed told Dr. Dibdin that he was once in possession of
the _journal_ or day-book of Albert Durer, from which “it appeared that
he was in the habit of drawing upon the blocks, and that his men
performed the remaining operation of cutting away the wood.”[V-8] This
information, had it been communicated by a person whose veracity might
be depended on, would be decisive of the question; but the book
unfortunately “perished in the flames of a house in the neighbourhood of
one of the battles fought between Bonaparte and the Prussians;” and from
a little anecdote recorded by Dr. Dibdin the Baron appears to have been
a person whose word was not to be implicitly relied on.[V-9]

    [Footnote V-6: The following is Bartsch’s French version of this
    letter, which is given in the original German in Von Murr’s
    Journal, 9^er. Theil, S. 53. “Cher Michel Beheim. Je vous envoie
    les armoiries, en vous priant de les laisser comme elles sont.
    Personne d’ailleurs ne les corrigeroit en mieux, car je les ai
    faites exprès et avec art; c’est pourquoi ceux qui s’y connoissent
    et qui les verront vous en rendront bonne raison. Si l’on haussoit
    les lambrequins du heaume, ils couvriroient le volet.”--Bartsch,
    Peintre-Graveur, tom. vii. p. 27.]

    [Footnote V-7: In Durer’s Journal of his visit to the Netherlands
    in 1520 there is the following passage: “Item hab dem von
    Rogendorff sein Wappen auf Holz gerissen, dafür hat er mir
    geschenckt vii. Ein Sammet.”--“Also I have drawn for Von
    Rogendorff his arms on wood, for which he has presented me with
    seven yards of velvet.”--Von Murr, Journal zur Kunstgeschichte,
    7^er. Theil, S. 76.]

    [Footnote V-8: Bibliographical Tour, vol. iii. p. 442, second

    [Footnote V-9: The Baron was the collector of the wood-cuts
    published with Becker’s explanations, referred to at page 226,
    chapter IV. The anecdote alluded to will be found in Dr. Dibdin’s
    Bibliographical Tour, vol. iii. pp. 445, 446. The Baron sold a
    rare specimen of copper-plate engraving with the date M. CCCC.
    XXX. to the Doctor, and it seems that he also sold _another_
    impression from the same plate to Mr. John Payne. There is no
    doubt of their being gross forgeries; and it is not unlikely that
    the plate was in the Baron’s possession.]

Neudörffer, who in 1546 collected some particulars relative to the
history of the artists of Nuremberg, says that Jerome Resch, or Rösch,
engraved most of the cuts designed by Albert Durer. He also says that
Resch was one of the most skilful wood engravers of his day, and that he
particularly excelled in engraving letters on wood. This artist also
used to engrave dies for coining money, and had a printing establishment
of his own. He dwelt in the Broad Way at Nuremberg, with a back entrance
in Petticoat Lane;[V-10] and when he was employed in engraving the
Triumphal Car drawn by Albert Durer for the Emperor Maximilian, the
Emperor used to call almost every day to see the progress of the work;
and as he entered at Petticoat Lane, it became a by-word with the common
people: “The Emperor still often drives to Petticoat Lane.”[V-11]

    [Footnote V-10: “Dieser Hieronymus hat allhier im breiten Gassen
    gewohnt, dessen Wohnung hinten ins Frauengässlein ging.”]

    [Footnote V-11: Neudörffer, quoted in Von Murr’s Journal, 2ter
    Theil, S. 158, 159.]

Although it is by no means unlikely that Albert Durer might engrave two
or three wood-cuts of his own designing, yet, after a careful
examination of most of those that bear his mark, I cannot find one which
is so decidedly superior to the rest as to induce an opinion of its
being engraved by himself; and I cannot for a moment believe that an
artist of his great talents, and who painted so many pictures, engraved
so many copper-plates, and made so many designs, could find time to
engrave even a small part of the many wood-cuts which have been supposed
to be executed by him, and which a common wood engraver might execute as
well. “If Durer himself had engraved on wood,” says Bartsch in the
seventh volume of his Peintre-Graveur, “it is most likely that among the
many particular accounts which we have of his different pursuits, and of
the various kind of works which he has left, the fact of his having
applied himself to wood engraving would certainly have been transmitted
in a manner no less explicit; but, far from finding the least trace of
it, everything that relates to this subject proves that he had never
employed himself in this kind of work. He is always described as a
painter, a designer, or an editor of works engraved on wood, but never
as a wood engraver.”[V-12] I also further agree with Bartsch, who thinks
that the wood-cuts which contain the marks of Lucas Cranach, Hans
Burgmair, and others who are known to have been painters of considerable
reputation in their day, were not engraved by those artists, but only
designed or drawn by them on the block.

    [Footnote V-12: At the end of the first edition of the cuts
    illustrative of the Apocalypse, 1498, we find the words: “_Gedrukt
    durch Albrecht Durer, Maler_,”--Printed by Albert Durer, painter;
    and the same in Latin in the second edition, printed about 1510.
    The passion of Christ and the History of the Virgin are
    respectively said to have been “_effigiata_” and “_per figuras
    digesta_”--“drawn” and “pictorially represented” by Albert Durer;
    and the cuts of the Triumphal Car of the Emperor Maximilian are
    described as being “_erfunden und geordnet_”--“invented and
    arranged” by him.--Bartsch, Peintre-Graveur, tom. vii. p. 28.]

Albert Durer was born at Nuremberg, on 20th May 1471. His father, whose
name was also Albert, was a goldsmith, and a native of Cola in Hungary.
His mother was a daughter of Jerome Haller, who was also a goldsmith,
and the master under whom the elder Durer had acquired a knowledge of
his art. Albert continued with his father till his sixteenth year, and
had, as he himself says, learned to execute beautiful works in the
goldsmith’s art, when he felt a great desire to become a painter. His
father on hearing of his wish to change his profession was much
displeased, as he considered that the time he had already spent in
endeavouring to acquire a knowledge of the art of a goldsmith was
entirely lost. He, however, assented to his son’s earnest request, and
placed him, on St. Andrew’s day, 1486, as a pupil under Michael
Wolgemuth for the term of three years, to learn the art of painting. On
the expiration of his “lehr-jahre,” or apprenticeship, in 1490, he left
his master, and, according to the custom of German artists of that
period, proceeded to travel for the purpose of gaining a further
knowledge of his profession. In what manner or in what places he was
chiefly employed during his “wander-jahre”[V-13] is not very well known;
but it is probable that his travels did not extend beyond Germany. In
the course of his peregrinations he visited Colmar, in 1492, where he
was kindly received by Caspar, Paul, and Louis, the brothers of Martin
Schongauer; but he did not see, either then or at any other period, that
celebrated engraver himself.[V-14] He returned to Nuremberg in the
spring of 1494; and shortly afterwards married Agnes, the daughter of
John Frey, a mechanist of considerable reputation of that city. This
match, which is said to have been made for him by his parents, proved to
be an unhappy one; for, though his wife possessed considerable personal
charms, she was a woman of a most wretched temper; and her incessant
urging him to continued exertion in order that she might obtain money,
is said to have embittered the life of the artist and eventually to have
hastened his death.[V-15]

    [Footnote V-13: The time that a German artist spends in travel
    from the expiration of his apprenticeship to the period of his
    settling as a master is called his “wander-jahre,”--his travelling
    years. It is customary with many trades in Germany for the young
    men to travel for a certain time on the termination of their
    apprenticeship before they are admitted to the full privileges of
    the company or fellowship.]

    [Footnote V-14: It has been stated, though erroneously, that
    Albert Durer was a pupil of Martin Schongauer, or Schön, as the
    surname was spelled by some writers, one of the most eminent
    painters and copper-plate engravers of his day. It has been
    generally supposed that he died in 1486; but, if an old memorandum
    at the back of his portrait in the collection of Count de Fries
    can be depended on, his death did not take place till the 2d of
    February 1499. An account of this memorandum will be found in
    Ottley’s Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of Engraving,
    vol. ii. p. 640.]

    [Footnote V-15: On a passage, in which Durer alludes to his wife,
    in one of his letters from Venice, 1506, to his friend Bilibald
    Pirkheimer, Von Murr makes the following remark: “This Xantippe
    must even at that time have vexed him much; and he was obliged to
    drag on his life with her for twenty-two years longer, till she
    fairly plagued him to death.”--Journal, 10er Theil, S. 32.]

It has not been ascertained from whom Albert Durer learnt the art of
engraving on copper; for there seems but little reason to believe that
his master Michael Wolgemuth ever practised that branch of art, though
several copper-plates, marked with a W, have been ascribed to him by
some authors.[V-16] As most of the early copper-plate engravers were
also goldsmiths, it is probable that Durer might acquire some knowledge
of the former art during the time that he continued with his father;
and, as he was endowed with a versatile genius, it is not unlikely that
he owed his future improvement entirely to himself. The earliest date
that is to be found on his copper-plates is 1494. The subject in which
this date occurs represents a group of four naked women with a globe
suspended above them, in the manner of a lamp, on which are inscribed
the letters O. G. H. which have been supposed to signify the words
“O Gott helf!”--Help, O Lord!--as if the spectator on beholding the
naked beauties were exceedingly liable to fall into temptation.[V-17]

    [Footnote V-16: Bartsch is decidedly of opinion that Michael
    Wolgemuth was not an engraver; and he ascribes all the plates
    marked with a W, which others have supposed to be Wolgemuth’s, to
    Wenceslaus of Olmutz, an artist of whom nothing is positively

    [Footnote V-17: This subject has also been engraved by Israel Von
    Mecken, and by an artist supposed to be Wenceslaus of Olmutz. It
    is probable that those artists have copied Durer’s engraving. On
    the globe in Israel Von Mecken’s plate the letters are O. G. B.]

The earliest wood engravings that contain Albert Durer’s mark are
sixteen subjects, of folio size, illustrative of the Apocalypse, which
were printed at Nuremberg, 1498. On the first leaf is the title in
German: “Die heimliche Offenbarung Johannes”--“The Revelation of
John;”--and on the back of the last cut but one is the imprint:
“Gedrücket zu Nurnbergk durch Albrecht Durer, maler, nach Christi geburt
M. CCCC. und darnach im xcviij. iar”--“Printed at Nuremberg by Albert
Durer, painter, in the year after the birth of Christ 1498.” The date of
those cuts marks an important epoch in the history of wood engraving.
From this time the boundaries of the art became enlarged; and wood
engravers, instead of being almost wholly occupied in executing designs
of the very lowest character, drawn without feeling, taste, or
knowledge, were now to be engaged in engraving subjects of general
interest, drawn, expressly for the purpose of being thus executed, by
some of the most celebrated artists of the age. Though several cuts of
the Apocalypse are faulty in drawing and extravagant in design, they are
on the whole much superior to any series of wood engravings that
preceded them; and their execution, though coarse, is free and bold.
They are not equal, in point of well-contrasted light and shade, to some
of Durer’s later designs on wood; but considering them as his first
essays in drawing on wood, they are not unworthy of his reputation. They
appear as if they had been drawn on the block with a pen and ink; and
though cross-hatching is to be found in all of them, this mode of
indicating a shade, or obtaining “colour,” is much less frequently
employed than in some of his later productions. The following is a
reduced copy of one of the cuts, No. 11, which is illustrative of the
twelfth chapter of Revelations, verses 1-4: “And there appeared a great
wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her
feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.----And there appeared
another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven
heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew
the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth;
and the dragon stood before the woman.”


In 1502 a pirated edition of those cuts was published at Strasburg by
Jerome Greff, who describes himself as a painter of Frankfort. In 1511
Durer published a second edition of the originals; and on the back of
the last cut but one is a caution addressed to the plagiary, informing
him of the Emperor’s order, prohibiting any one to copy the cuts or to
sell the spurious impressions within the limits of the German empire,
under the penalty of the confiscation of goods, and at the peril of
further punishment.[V-18]

    [Footnote V-18: This caution is in the original expressed in the
    following indignant terms: “Heus, tu insidiator, ac alieni laboris
    et ingenii surreptor, ne manus temerarias his nostris operibus
    inicias cave. Scias enim a gloriosissimo Romanorum imperatore
    Maximiliano nobis concessum esse ne quis suppositiciis formis has
    imagines imprimere seu impressas per imperii limites vendere
    audeat: q’ per contemptum seu avariciæ crimen secus feceris, post
    bonorum confiscationem tibi maximum periculum subeundum esse
    certissime scias.”]

Though no other wood engravings with Durer’s mark are found with a date
till 1504, yet it is highly probable that several subjects of his
designing were engraved between 1498, the date of the Apocalypse, and
the above year; and it is also likely that he engraved several
copper-plates within this period; although, with the exception of that
of the four naked women, there are only four known which contain a date
earlier than 1505. About the commencement of 1506 Durer visited Venice,
where he remained till October in the same year. Eight letters which he
addressed to Bilibald Pirkheimer from Venice, are printed in the tenth
volume of Von Murr’s Journal. In the first letter, which is dated on the
day of the Three Kings of Cologne, 1506, he informs his friend that he
was employed to paint a picture for the German church at Venice, for
which he was to receive a hundred and ten Rhenish guilders,[V-19] and
that he expects to have it ready to place above the altar a month after
Easter. He expresses a hope that he will be enabled to repay out of this
money what he had borrowed of Pirkheimer. From this letter it seems
evident that Durer’s circumstances were not then in a very flourishing
state, and that he had to depend on his exertions for the means of
living. The comparatively trifling sums which he mentions as having sent
to his mother and his wife sufficiently declare that he had not left a
considerable sum at home. He also says, that should his wife want more
money, her father must assist her, and that he will honourably repay him
on his return.

    [Footnote V-19: Von Murr says that the subject of this picture was
    the martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, the saint to whom the church was
    dedicated; and that the painting afterwards came into the
    possession of the Emperor Rudolf II. and was placed in his gallery
    at Prague. It seems that Durer had taken some pictures with him to
    Venice; for in his fifth letter he says that he has sold two for
    twenty-four ducats, and exchanged three others for three rings,
    valued also at twenty-four ducats.]

In the second letter, after telling Pirkheimer that he has no other
friend but him on earth, he expresses a wish that he were in Venice to
enjoy the pleasant company that he has met with there. The following
passage, which occurs in this letter, is, perhaps, the most interesting
in the collection: “I have many good friends among the Italians, who
warn me not to eat or drink with their painters, of whom several are my
enemies, and copy my picture in the church and others of mine, wherever
they can find them; and yet they blame them, and say they are not
according to ancient art, and therefore not good. Giovanni Bellini[V-20]
however has praised me highly to several gentlemen, and wishes to have
something of my doing. He called on me himself, and requested that I
would paint a picture for him, for which he said he would pay me well.
People are all surprised that I should be so much thought of by a person
of his reputation. He is very old, but is still the best painter of them
all. The things which pleased me eleven years ago, please me no longer.
If I had not seen it myself I could not have believed it. You must also
know that there are many better painters within this city than Master
Jacob is without, although Anthony Kolb swears that there is not on
earth a better painter than Jacob.[V-21] The others laugh, and say if he
were good for anything he would live in Venice.”

    [Footnote V-20: In the Venetian dialect of that period Giovanni
    Bellini was called Zan Belin; and Durer spells the name
    “Sambellinus.” He was the master of Titian, and died in 1514, at
    the age of ninety.--Von Murr, Journal, 10er Theil, S. 8.]

    [Footnote V-21: Von Murr says that he cannot discover what Jacob
    is here meant. It would not be Jacob Walsch, as he died in 1500.
    The person alluded to was certainly not an Italian.]

The greater part of the other six letters are chiefly occupied with
accounts of his success in executing sundry little commissions with
which he had been entrusted by his friends, such as the purchase of a
finger-ring and two pieces of tapestry; to enquire after such Greek
books as had been recently published; and to get him some crane
feathers. The sixth and seventh letters are written in a vein of humour
which at the present time would be called gross. Von Murr illustrates
one passage by a quotation from Swift which is not remarkable for its
delicacy; and he also says that Durer’s eighth letter is written in the
humorous style of that writer. Those letters show that chastity was not
one of Bilibald Pirkheimer’s virtues; and that the learned counsellor of
the imperial city of Nuremberg was devoted “tam Veneri quam

    [Footnote V-22: Bilibald Pirkheimer was a learned man, and a
    person of great authority in the city of Nuremberg. He was also a
    member of the Imperial Council, and was frequently employed in
    negociations with neighbouring states. He published several works;
    and among others a humorous essay entitled “Laus Podagræ”--The
    Praise of the Gout. His memory is still held in great respect in
    Germany as the friend of Albert Durer and Ulrich Hutten, two of
    the most extraordinary men that Germany has produced. He died in
    1530, aged 60.]

In the fourth letter Durer says that the painters were much opposed to
him; that they had thrice compelled him to go before the magistracy; and
that they had obliged him to give four florins to their society. In the
seventh letter, he writes as follows about the picture which he had
painted for the German church: “I have through it received great praise,
but little profit. I might well have gained two hundred ducats in the
same time, and all the while I laboured most diligently in order that I
might get home again. I have given all the painters a rubbing down who
said that I could engrave[V-23] well, but that in painting I knew not
how to manage my colours. Everybody here says they never saw colours
more beautiful.” In his last letter, which is dated, “at Venice, I know
not what day of the month, but about the fourteenth day after
Michaelmas, 1506,” he says that he will be ready to leave that city in
about ten days; that he intends to proceed to Bologna, and after staying
there about eight or ten days for the sake of learning some secrets in
perspective, to return home by way of Venice. He visited Bologna as he
intended; and was treated with great respect by the painters of that
city. After a brief stay at Bologna, he returned to Nuremberg; and there
is no evidence of his ever having visited Italy again.

    [Footnote V-23: The kind of engraving meant was copper-plate
    engraving. Durer’s words are: “Ich hab awch dy Moler all gesthrilt
    dy do sagten, Im _Stechen_ wer ich gut, aber im molen west ich nit
    mit farben um zu gen.” The word “_Stechen_” applies to engraving
    on copper; “Schneiden” to engraving on wood.--Von Murr, Journal,
    10er Theil, S. 28.]


In 1511, the second of Durer’s large works engraved on wood appeared at
Nuremberg. It is generally entitled the History of the Virgin, and
consists of nineteen large cuts, each about eleven inches and three
quarters high, by eight inches and a quarter wide, with a vignette of
smaller size which ornaments the title-page.[V-24] Impressions are to be
found without any accompanying text, but the greater number have
explanatory verses printed from type at the back. The cut here
represented is a reduced copy of the vignette on the title-page. The
Virgin is seen seated on a crescent, giving suck to the infant Christ;
and her figure and that of the child are drawn with great feeling. Of
all Durer’s Madonnas, whether engraved on wood or copper, this, perhaps,
is one of the best. Her attitude is easy and natural, and happily
expressive of the character in which she is represented--that of a
nursing mother. The light and shade are well contrasted; and the folds
of her ample drapery, which Durer was fond of introducing whenever he
could, are arranged in a manner which materially contributes to the
effect of the engraving.

    [Footnote V-24: The title at length is as follows: “Epitome in
    Divæ Parthenices Marie Historiam ab Alberto Durero Norico per
    figuras digestam, cum versibus annexis Chelidonii.” Chelidonius,
    who was a Benedictine monk of Nuremberg, also furnished the
    descriptive text to the series of twelve cuts illustrative of
    Christ’s Passion, of which specimens will be found between page
    246 and page 250.]


The following cuts are reduced copies of two of the larger subjects of
the same work. That which is here given represents the birth of the
Virgin; and were it not for the angel who is seen swinging a censer at
the top of the room, it might be taken for the accouchement of a German
burgomaster’s wife in the year 1510. The interior is apparently that of
a house in Nuremberg of Durer’s own time, and the figures introduced are
doubtless faithful copies, both in costume and character, of such
females as were generally to be found in the house of a German tradesman
on such an occasion. From the number of cups and flagons that are seen,
we may be certain that the gossips did not want liquor; and that in
Durer’s age the female friends and attendants on a groaning woman were
accustomed to enjoy themselves on the birth of a child over a cheerful
cup. In the fore-ground an elderly female is perceived taking a draught,
without measure, from a flagon; while another, more in the distance and
farther to the right, appears to be drinking, from a cup, health to the
infant which a woman like a nurse holds in her arms. An elderly female,
sitting by the side of the bed, has dropped into a doze; but whether
from the effects of the liquor or long watching it would not be easy to
divine. On the opposite side of the bed a female figure presents a
caudle, with a spoon in it, to St. Anne, the mother of the Virgin, while
another is seen filling a goblet of wine. At the bottom of the cut is
Durer’s mark on a tablet. The original cut is not remarkable for the
excellence of its engraving, but it affords a striking example of the
little attention which Durer, in common with most other German painters
of that period, paid to propriety of costume in the treatment of such
subjects. The piece is Hebrew, of the age of Herod the Great; but the
scenery, dresses, and decorations are German, of the time of
Maximilian I.

The second specimen of the large cuts of Durer’s Life of the Virgin,
given on the next page, represents the Sojourn of the Holy Family in
Egypt. In the fore-ground St. Joseph is seen working at his business as
a carpenter; while a number of little figures, like so many Cupids, are
busily employed in collecting the chips which he makes and in putting
them into a basket. Two little winged figures, of the same family as the
chip-collectors, are seen running hand-in-hand, a little more in the
distance to the left, and one of them holds in his hand a plaything like
those which are called “windmills” in England, and are cried about as
“toys for girls and boys,” and sold for a halfpenny each, or exchanged
for old pewter spoons, doctors’ bottles, or broken flint-glass. To the
right the Virgin, a matronly-looking figure, is seen sitting spinning,
and at the same time rocking with her foot the cradle in which the
infant Christ is asleep. Near the Virgin are St. Elizabeth and her young
son, the future Baptist. At the head of the cradle is an angel bending
as if in the act of adoration; while another, immediately behind St.
Elizabeth, holds a pot containing flowers. In the sky there is a
representation of the Deity, with the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove.
The artist has not thought it necessary to mark the locality of the
scene by the introduction of pyramids and temples in the back-ground,
for the architectural parts of his subject, as well as the human
figures, have evidently been supplied by his own country, Durer’s mark
is at the bottom of the cut on the right.


Christ’s Passion, consisting of a series of eleven large wood-cuts and a
vignette, designed by Albert Durer, appeared about the same time as his
History of the Virgin.[V-25] The descriptive matter was compiled by
Chelidonius; and, in the same manner as in the History of the Virgin,
a certain number of impressions were printed without any explanatory
text.[V-26] The large subjects are about fifteen inches and a half high,
by eleven inches and an eighth wide. The following cut is a reduced copy
of the vignette on the title-page.

    [Footnote V-25: The cuts of these two works appear to have been in
    the hands of the engraver at the same time. Of those in the
    History of the Virgin one is dated 1509; and two bear the date
    1510; and in the Passion of Christ four are dated 1510.]

    [Footnote V-26: The Latin title of the work is as follows: “Passio
    Domini nostri Jesu, ex Hieronymo Paduano, Dominico Mancino,
    Sedulio, et Baptista Mantuana, per fratrem Chelidonium collecta,
    cum figuris Alberti Dureri Norici Pictoris.”]


The subject is Christ mocked; but the artist has at the same time wished
to express in the figure of Christ the variety of his sufferings: the
Saviour prays as if in his agony on the mount; near him lies the
instrument of his flagellation; his hands and feet bear the marks of the
nails, and he appears seated on the covering of his sepulchre. The
soldier is kneeling and offering a reed as a sceptre to Christ, whom he
hails in derision as King of the Jews.

The three following cuts are reduced copies of the same number in the
Passion of Christ. In the cut of the Last Supper, in the next page,
cross-hatching is freely introduced, though without contributing much to
the improvement of the engraving; and the same effect in the wall to the
right, in the groins of the roof, and in the floor under the table,
might be produced by much simpler means. No artist, I am persuaded,
would introduce such work in a design if he had to engrave it himself.
The same “colour” might be produced by single lines which could be
executed in a third of the time required to cut out the interstices of
the cross-hatchings. Durer’s mark is at the bottom of the cut, and the
date 1510 is perceived above it, on the frame of the table.

The cut on page 249, from the Passion, Christ bearing his Cross, is
highly characteristic of Durer’s style; and the original is one of the
best of all the wood engravings which bear his mark. The characters
introduced are such as he was fondest of drawing; and most of the heads
and figures may be recognised in several other engravings either
executed by himself on copper or by others on wood from his designs.


The figure which is seen holding a kind of halbert in his right hand is
a favourite with Durer, and is introduced, with trifling variations, in
at least half a dozen of his subjects; and the horseman with a kind of
turban on his head and a lance in his left hand occurs no less
frequently. St. Veronica, who is seen holding the “sudarium,” or holy
handkerchief, in the fore-ground to the left, is a type of his female
figures; the head of the executioner, who is seen urging Christ forward,
is nearly the same as that of the mocker in the preceding vignette; and
Simon the Cyrenian, who assists to bear the cross, appears to be the
twin-brother of St. Joseph in the Sojourn in Egypt. The figure of
Christ, bowed down with the weight of the cross, is well drawn, and his
face is strongly expressive of sorrow. Behind Simon the Cyrenian are the
Virgin and St. John; and under the gateway a man with a haggard visage
is perceived carrying a ladder with his head between the steps. The
artist’s mark is at the bottom of the cut.


The subject of the cut on page 250, from Christ’s Passion, represents
the descent into hell and the liberation of the ancestors. The massive
gates of the abode of sin and death have been burst open, and the banner
of the cross waves triumphant. Among those who have already been
liberated from the pit of darkness are Eve, who has her back turned
towards the spectator, and Adam, who in his right hand holds an apple,
the symbol of his fall, and with his left supports a cross, the emblem
of his redemption. In the front is Christ aiding others of the ancestors
to ascend from the pit, to the great dismay of the demons whose realm is
invaded. A horrid monster, with a head like that of a boar surmounted
with a horn, aims a blow at the Redeemer with a kind of rude lance;
while another, a hideous compound of things that swim, and walk, and
fly, sounds a note of alarm to arouse his kindred fiends. On a stone,
above the entrance to the pit, is the date 1510; and Durer’s mark is
perceived on another stone immediately before the figure of Christ. This
cut, with the exception of the frequent cross-hatching, is designed more
in the style and spirit of the artist’s illustrations of the Apocalypse
than in the manner of the rest of the series to which it belongs.


The preceding specimens of wood-cuts from Durer’s three great works, the
Apocalypse, the History of the Virgin, and Christ’s Passion, afford not
only an idea of the style of his drawing on wood, but also of the
progress made by the art of wood engraving from the time of his first
availing himself of its capabilities. In Durer’s designs on wood we
perceive not only more correct drawing and a greater knowledge of
composition, but also a much more effective combination of light and
shade, than are to be found in any wood-cuts executed before the date of
his earliest work, the Apocalypse, which appeared in 1498. One of the
peculiar advantages of wood engraving is the effect with which strong
shades can be represented; and of this Durer has generally availed
himself with the greatest skill. On comparing his works engraved on wood
with all those previously executed in the same manner, we shall find
that his figures are not only much better drawn and more skilfully
grouped, but that instead of sticking, in hard outline, against the
back-ground, they stand out with the natural appearance of rotundity.
The rules of perspective are more attentively observed; the back-grounds
better filled; and a number of subordinate objects introduced--such as
trees, herbage, flowers, animals, and children--which at once give a
pleasing variety to the subject and impart to it the stamp of truth.
Though the figures in many of his designs may not indeed be correct in
point of costume,--for though he diligently studied Nature, it was only
in her German dress,--yet their character and expression are generally
appropriate and natural. Though incapable of imparting to sacred
subjects the elevated character which is given to them by Raffaele, his
representations are perhaps no less like the originals than those of the
great Italian master. It is indeed highly probable that Albert Durer’s
German representatives of saints and apostles are more like the
originals than the more dignified ideal portraits of Raffaele. The
latter, from his knowledge of the antique, has frequently given to his
Jews a character and a costume borrowed from Grecian art of the age of
Phidias; while Albert Durer has given to them the features and invested
them in the costume of Germans of his own age.

Shortly after the appearance of the large cuts illustrative of Christ’s
Passion, Durer published a series of thirty-seven of a smaller size,
also engraved on wood, which Mr. Ottley calls “The Fall of Man and his
Redemption through Christ,” but which Durer himself refers to under the
title of “The Little Passion.”[V-27] All the cuts of the Little Passion,
as well as seventeen of those of the Life of the Virgin and several
other pieces of Durer’s, were imitated on copper by Marc Antonio
Raimondi, the celebrated Italian engraver, who is said to have sold his
copies as the originals. Vasari, in his Life of Marc Antonio, says that
when Durer was informed of this imitation of his works, he was highly
incensed and he set out directly for Venice, and that on his arrival
there he complained of Marc Antonio’s proceedings to the government; but
could obtain no further redress than that in future Marc Antonio should
not put Durer’s mark to his engravings.

    [Footnote V-27: The Latin title of this work is “Passio Christi,”
    and the explanatory verses are from the pen of Chelidonius. Durer,
    in the Journal of his Visit to the Netherlands, twice mentions it
    as “die Kleine Passion,” and each time with a distinction which
    proves that he did not mean the Passion engraved by him on copper
    and probably published in 1512. “Item Sebaldt Fischer hat mir zu
    Antorff [Antwerp] abkaufft 16 _kleiner Passion_, pro 4 fl. Mehr 32
    grosser Bücher pro 8 fl. Mehr 6 gestochne Passion pro 3
    fl.”--“Darnach die drey Bücher unser Frauen Leben, Apocalypsin,
    und den grossen Passion, darnach _den klein Passion_, und den
    Passion in Kupffer.”--Albrecht Dürers Reisejournal, in Von Murr,
    7er Theil, S. 60 and 67. The size of the cuts of the Little
    Passion is five inches high by three and seven-eighths wide. Four
    impressions from the original blocks are given in Ottley’s
    Inquiry, vol. ii. between page 730 and page 731.]

Though it is by no means unlikely that Durer might apply to the Venetian
government to prevent the sale of spurious copies of his works within
the bounds of their jurisdiction, yet Vasari’s account of his personally
visiting that city for the purpose of making a complaint against Marc
Antonio, and of the government having forbid the latter to affix Durer’s
mark to his engravings in future, is certainly incorrect. The History of
the Virgin, the earliest of the two works which were almost entirely
copied by Marc Antonio, was not published before 1510, and there is not
the slightest evidence of Durer having re-visited Venice after his
return to Nuremberg about the latter end of 1506. Bartsch thinks that
Vasari’s account of Durer’s complaining to the Venetian government
against Marc Antonio is wholly unfounded; not only from the fact of
Durer not having visited Venice subsequent to 1506, but from the
improbability of his applying to a foreign state to prohibit a stranger
from copying his works. Mr. Ottley, however,--after observing that Marc
Antonio had affixed Durer’s mark to his copies of the seventeen cuts of
the Life of the Virgin and of some other single subjects, but had
omitted it in his copies of the cuts of the Little Passion,--thus
expresses his opinion with respect to the correctness of this part of
Vasari’s account: “That Durer, who enjoyed the especial protection of
the Emperor Maximilian, might be enabled through the imperial ambassador
at Venice to lay his complaints before the government, and to obtain the
prohibition before stated, may I think readily be imagined; and it
cannot be denied, that the circumstance of Marc Antonio’s having omitted
to affix the mark of Albert to the copies which he afterwards made of
the series of the ‘Life of Christ’ is strongly corroborative of the
general truth of the story.”[V-28] As two of the cuts in the Little
Passion, which Mr. Ottley here calls the “Life of Christ,” are dated
1510, and as, according to Mr. Ottley, Marc Antonio arrived at Rome in
the course of that year, it is difficult to conceive how the government
of Venice could have the power to prohibit a native of Bologna, living
in a state beyond their jurisdiction, from affixing Albert Durer’s mark
to such engravings as he might please to copy from the works of that

    [Footnote V-28: Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of
    Engraving, vol. ii. p. 782. The objections to the general truth of
    Vasari’s story appear to be much stronger than the presumptions in
    its favour. 1. The improbability of Albert Durer having visited
    Venice subsequent to 1506; 2. The fact of Marc Antonio’s copies of
    the cuts of the Little Passion _not_ containing Albert Durer’s
    mark; and 3. The probability of Mark Antonio residing beyond the
    jurisdiction of the Venetian government at the time of his
    engraving them.]

Among the more remarkable single subjects engraved on wood from Durer’s
designs, the following are most frequently referred to: God the Father
bearing up into heaven the dead body of Christ, with the date 1511;
a Rhinoceros, with the date 1515; a portrait of Ulrich Varnbuler, with
the date 1522; a large head of Christ crowned with thorns, without date;
and the Siege of a fortified town, with the date 1527. In the first of
the above-named cuts, God the Father wears a kind of tiara like that of
the Pope, and above the principal figure the Holy Ghost is seen hovering
in the form of a dove. On each side of the Deity and the dead Christ are
angels holding the cross, the pillar to which Christ was bound when he
was scourged, the crown of thorns, the sponge dipped in vinegar, and
other emblems of the Passion. At the foot are heads with puffed-out
cheeks intended to represent the winds. This cut is engraved in a
clearer and more delicate style than most of the other subjects designed
by Durer on wood. There are impressions of the Rhinoceros, and the
portrait of Varnbuler, printed in chiaro-scuro from three blocks; and
there are also other wood-cuts designed by Durer executed in the same
manner. The large head of Christ, which is engraved in a coarse though
spirited and effective manner, is placed by Bartsch among the doubtful
pieces ascribed to Durer; but Mr. Ottley says, “I am unwilling to deny
to Durer the credit of this admirable and boldly executed
production.”[V-29] The cut representing the siege of a fortified town is
twenty-eight inches and three-eighths wide, by eight inches and seven
eighths high. It has been engraved on two blocks, and afterwards pasted
together. A number of small figures are introduced, and a great extent
of country is shown in this cut, which is, however, deficient in effect;
and the little figures, though drawn with great spirit, want relief,
which causes many of them to appear as if they were riding or walking in
the air. The most solid-like part of the subject is the sky; there is no
ground for most of the figures to stand on; and those which are in the
distance are of the same size as those which are apparently a mile or
two nearer the spectator. There is nothing remarkable in the execution,
and the design adds nothing to Durer’s reputation.

    [Footnote V-29: There is a copy of this head, also engraved on
    wood, of the size of the original, but without Durer’s, or any
    other mark. Underneath an impression of the copy, in the Print
    Room of the British Museum, there is written in a hand which
    appears to be at least as old as the year 1550, “Dieser hat
    [[HSB]]ehaim gerissen”--“H. S. Behaim drew this.” Hans Sebald
    Behaim, a painter and designer on wood, was born at Nuremberg in
    1500, and was the pupil of his uncle, also named Behaim, a painter
    and engraver of that city. The younger Behaim abandoned the arts
    to become a tavern-keeper at Frankfort, where he died in 1550.]

The great patron of wood engraving in the earlier part of the sixteenth
century was the Emperor Maximilian I, who,--besides originating the
three works, known by the titles of Sir Theurdank, the Wise King, and
the Triumphs of Maximilian, which he caused to be illustrated with
numerous wood engravings, chiefly from the designs of Hans Burgmair and
Hans Schaufflein,--employed Albert Durer to make the designs for two
other series of wood engravings, a Triumphal Car and a Triumphal Arch.

The Triumphal _Car_, engraved by Jerome Resch from Durer’s drawings on
wood, is frequently confounded with the larger work called the Triumphs
of Maximilian, most of the designs of which were made by Hans Burgmair.
It is indeed generally asserted that all the designs for the latter work
were made by Hans Burgmair; but I think I shall be able to show, in a
subsequent notice of that work, that some of the cuts contained in the
edition published at Vienna and London in 1796 were, in all probability,
designed by Albert Durer. The Triumphal Car consists of eight separate
pieces, which, when joined together, form a continuous subject seven
feet four inches long; the height of the highest cut--that containing
the car--is eighteen inches from the base line to the upper part of the
canopy above the Emperor’s head. The Emperor is seen seated in a highly
ornamented car, attended by female figures, representing Justice, Truth,
Clemency, and other virtues, who hold towards him triumphal wreaths. One
of the two wheels which are seen is inscribed “Magnificentia,” and the
other “Dignitas;” the driver of the car is Reason,--“Ratio,”--and one of
the reins is marked “Nobilitas,” and the other “Potentia.” The car is
drawn by six pair of horses splendidly harnessed, and each horse is
attended by a female figure. The names of the females at the head of the
first pair from the car are “Providentia” and “Moderatio;” of the
second, “Alacritas” and “Opportunitas;” of the third, “Velocitas” and
“Firmitudo;” of the fourth, “Acrimonia” and “Virilitas;” of the fifth,
“Audacia” and “Magnanimitas;” and the attendants on the leaders are
“Experientia” and “Solertia.” Above each pair of horses there is a
portion of explanatory matter printed in letter-press; and in that above
the leading pair is a mandate from the Emperor Maximilian, dated
Inspruck, 1518, addressed to Bilibald Pirkheimer, who appears to have
suggested the subject; and in the same place is the name of the inventor
and designer, Albert Durer.[V-30] The first edition of those cuts
appeared at Nuremberg in 1522; and in some copies the text is in German,
and in others in Latin. A second edition, with the text in Latin only,
was printed at the same place in the following year. A third edition,
from the same blocks, was printed at Venice in 1588; and a fourth at
Amsterdam in 1609. The execution of this subject is not particularly
good, but the action of the horses is generally well represented, and
the drawing of some of the female figures attending them is extremely
spirited. Guido seems to have availed himself of some of the figures in
Durer’s Triumphal Car in his celebrated fresco of the Car of Apollo,
preceded by Aurora, and accompanied by the Hours.

    [Footnote V-30: In the edition with Latin inscriptions, 1523, are
    the words, “Excogitatus et depictus est currus iste Nurembergæ,
    impressus vero per Albertum Durer. Anno MDXXIII.” The Latin words
    “excogitatus et depictus” are expressed by “gefunden und geordnet”
    in the German inscriptions in the edition of 1522. A sketch by
    Durer, for the Triumphal Car, is preserved in the Print Room in
    the British Museum.]

It is said that the same subject painted by Durer himself is still to be
seen on the walls of the Town-hall of Nuremberg; but how far this is
correct I am unable to positively say; for I know of no account of the
painting written by a person who appears to have been acquainted with
the subject engraved on wood. Dr. Dibdin, who visited the Town-hall of
Nuremberg in 1818, speaks of what he saw there in a most vague and
unsatisfactory manner, as if he did not know the Triumphal Car designed
by Durer from the larger work entitled the Triumphs of Maximilian. The
notice of the learned bibliographer, who professes to be a great admirer
of the works of Albert Durer, is as follows: “The great boast of the
collection [in the Town-hall of Nuremberg] are the Triumphs of
Maximilian executed by _Albert Durer_,--which, however, have by no means
escaped injury.”[V-31] It is from such careless observations as the
preceding that erroneous opinions respecting the Triumphal Car and the
Triumphs of Maximilian are continued and propagated, and that most
persons confound the two works; which is indeed not surprising, seeing
that Dr. Dibdin himself, who is considered to be an authority on such
matters, has afforded proof that he does not know one from the other. In
the same volume that contains the notice of the “Triumphs of Maximilian”
in the Town-hall of Nuremberg, Dr. Dibdin says that he saw the “ORIGINAL
PAINTINGS” from which the large wood blocks were taken for the
well-known work entitled the “_Triumphs of the Emperor Maximilian_,” in
large folio, in the Imperial Library at Vienna.[V-32] Such observations
are very much in the style of the countryman’s, who had seen _two_
genuine skulls of Oliver Cromwell,--one at Oxford, and another in the
British Museum. Though I have not been able to ascertain satisfactorily
the subject of Durer’s painting in the Town-hall of Nuremberg, I am
inclined to think that it is the Triumphal _Car_ of Maximilian. In a
memorandum in the hand-writing of Nollekins, preserved with his copies
of Durer’s Triumphal Car and Triumphal Arch of Maximilian, in the Print
Room of the British Museum, it is said, though erroneously, that the
former is painted in the Town-hall of _Augsburg_ with the figures as
large as life.

    [Footnote V-31: Bibliographical Tour, vol. iii. p. 438. Edit.

    [Footnote V-32: Ibid. p. 330.]

The Triumphal _Arch_ of the Emperor Maximilian, engraved on wood from
Durer’s designs, consists of ninety-two separate pieces, which, when
joined together, form one large composition about ten feet and a half
high by nine and a half wide, exclusive of the margins and five folio
sheets of explanatory matter by the projector of the design, John
Stabius, who styles himself the historiographer and poet of the Emperor,
and who says, at the commencement of his description, that this arch was
drawn “after the manner of those erected in honour of the Roman emperors
at Rome, some of which are destroyed and others still to be seen.” In
the arch of Maximilian are three gates or entrances; that in the centre
is named the Gate of Honour and Power; that to the left the Gate of
Fame; and that to the right the Gate of Nobility.[V-33] Above the middle
entrance is what Stabius calls the “grand tower,” surmounted with the
imperial crown, and containing an inscription in German to the memory of
Maximilian. Above and on each side of the gates or entrances, which are
of very small dimensions, are portraits of the Roman emperors from the
time of Julius Cæsar to that of Maximilian himself; there are also
portraits of his ancestors, and of kings and princes with whom he was
allied either by friendship or marriage; shields of arms illustrative of
his descent or of the extent of his sovereignty; with representations of
his most memorable actions, among which his adventures in the Tyrolean
Alps, when hunting the chamois, are not forgotten. Underneath each
subject illustrative of his own history are explanatory verses, in the
German language, engraved on wood; and the names of the kings and
emperors, as well as the inscriptions explanatory of other parts of the
subject, are also executed in the same manner. The whole subject is, in
fact, a kind of pictorial epitome of the history of the German empire;
representing the succession of the Roman emperors, and the more
remarkable events of Maximilian’s own reign; with illustrations of his
descent, possessions, and alliances.

    [Footnote V-33: The two last names are, in the first edition,
    pasted over others which appear to have been “The Gate of Honour”
    and “The Gate of Relationship, Friendship, and Alliance.” The last
    name alludes to the emperor’s possessions as acquired by descent
    or marriage, and to his power as strengthened by his friendly
    alliances with neighbouring states.]

At the time of Maximilian’s death, which happened in 1519, this great
work was not finished; and it is said that Durer himself did not live to
see it completed, as one small block remained to be engraved at the
period of his death, in 1528. At whatever time the work might be
finished, it certainly was commenced at least four years before the
Emperor’s death, for the date 1515 occurs in two places at the foot of
the subject. Though Durer’s mark is not to be found on any one of the
cuts, there can be little doubt of his having furnished the designs for
the whole. In the ninth volume of Von Murr’s Journal it is stated that
Durer received a hundred guilders a year from the Emperor,--probably on
account of this large work; and in the same volume there is a letter of
Durer’s addressed to a friend, requesting him to apply to the emperor on
account of arrears due to him. In this letter he says that he has made
many drawings besides the “_Tryumps_”[V-34] for the emperor; and as he
also thrice mentions Stabius, the inventor of the Triumphal Arch, there
can be little doubt but that this was the work to which he alludes.

    [Footnote V-34: “Item wist auch das Ich K. Mt. ausserhalb des
    Tryumps sonst viel mancherley Fisyrung gemacht hab.”--“You must
    also know that I have made many other drawings for the emperor
    besides those of the Triumph.” The date of this letter is not
    given, but Durer informs his friend that he had been already three
    years employed for the emperor, and that if he had not exerted
    himself the beautiful “work” would not have been so soon
    completed. If this is to be understood of the Triumphal Arch, it
    would seem that the designs at least were all finished before the
    emperor’s death.--Von Murr, Journal, 9er Theil, S. 4.]

As a work of art the best single subjects of the Triumphal Arch will not
bear a comparison with the best cuts in Durer’s Apocalypse, the History
of the Virgin, or Christ’s Passion; and there are several in which no
trace of his effective style of drawing on wood is to be found. Most of
the subjects illustrative of the emperor’s battles and adventures are in
particular meagre in point of drawing, and deficient in effect. The
whole composition indeed appears like the result of continued
application without much display of talent. The powers of Durer had been
evidently constrained to work out the conceptions of the historiographer
and poet, Stabius; and as the subjects were not the suggestions of the
artist’s own feelings, it cannot be a matter of surprise that we should
find in them so few traces of his genius. The engraving of the cuts is
clear, but not generally effective; and the execution of the whole, both
figures and letters, would occupy a single wood engraver not less than
four years; even allowing him to engrave more rapidly on pear-tree than
a modern wood engraver does on box; and supposing him to be a master of
his profession.

From his varied talents and the excellence which he displayed in every
branch of art that he attempted, Albert Durer is entitled to rank with
the most extraordinary men of his age. As a painter he may be considered
as the father of the German school; while for his fidelity in copying
nature and the beauty of his colours he may bear a comparison with most
of the Italian artists of his own age. As an engraver on copper he
greatly excelled all who preceded him; and it is highly questionable if
any artist since his time, except Rembrandt, has painted so many good
pictures and engraved so many good copper-plates. But besides excelling
as an engraver on copper after the manner in which the art had been
previously practised, giving to his subjects a breadth of light and a
depth of shade which is not to be found in the productions of the
earlier masters, he further improved the art by the invention of
etching,[V-35] which enables the artist to work with greater freedom and
to give a variety and an effect to his subjects, more especially
landscapes, which are utterly unattainable by means of the graver alone.

    [Footnote V-35: In the process of etching the plate is first
    covered with a resinous composition--called etching ground--on
    which the lines intended to be _etched_, or bit into the plate,
    are drawn through to the surface of the metal by means of a small
    pointed tool called an etching needle, or an etching point. When
    the drawing of the subject upon the etching ground is finished,
    the plate is surrounded with a slightly raised border, or “wall,”
    as it is technically termed, formed of rosin, bee’s-wax, and lard;
    and, a corrosive liquid being poured upon the plate, the lines are
    “bit” into the copper or steel. When the engraver thinks that the
    lines are corroded to a sufficient depth, he pours off the liquid,
    cleans the plate by means of turpentine, and proceeds to finish
    his work with the graver and dry-point. According to the practice
    of modern engravers, where several _tints_ are required, as is
    most frequently the case, the process of “biting-in” is repeated;
    the corrosive liquid being again poured on the plate to corrode
    deeper the stronger lines, while the more delicate are “stopped
    out,”--that is, covered with a kind of varnish that soon hardens,
    to preserve them from further corrosion. Most of our best
    engravers now use a diamond point in etching. _Nitrous_ acid is
    used for “biting-in” on copper in the proportion of one part acid
    to four parts water, and the mixture is considered to be better
    after it has been once or twice used. Before using the acid it is
    advisable to take the stopper out of the bottle for twenty-four
    hours in order to allow a portion of the strength to evaporate.
    During the process of biting-in a large copper-plate the fumes
    which arise are so powerful as frequently to cause an unpleasant
    stricture in the throat, and sometimes to bring on a spitting of
    blood when they have been incautiously inhaled by the engraver. At
    such times it is usual for the engraver to have near him some
    powerful essence, generally hartshorn, in order to counteract the
    effects of the noxious vapour. For biting-in on steel, _nitric_
    acid is used in the proportion of thirty drops to half a pint of
    distilled water; and the mixture is never used for more than one
    plate.--When a _copper_-plate is sufficiently bit-in, it is only
    necessary to wash it with a little water previous to removing the
    etching ground with turpentine; but, besides this, with a _steel_
    plate it is further necessary to set it on one of its edges
    against a wall or other support, and to blow it with a pair of
    small bellows till every particle of moisture in the lines is
    perfectly evaporated. The plate is then rubbed with oil, otherwise
    the lines would rust from the action of the atmosphere and the
    plate be consequently spoiled. Previous to a steel plate being
    laid aside for any length of time it ought to be warmed, and the
    engraved surface rubbed carefully over with virgin wax so that it
    may be completely covered, and every line filled. A piece of thick
    paper the size of the plate, laid over the wax while it is yet
    adhesive, will prove an additional safeguard. For this information
    respecting the process of biting-in, the writer is indebted to an
    eminent engraver, Mr. J. T. Wilmore.]

There are two subjects by Albert Durer, dated 1512, which Bartsch thinks
were etched upon plates of iron, but which Mr. Ottley considers to have
been executed upon plates of a softer metal than copper, with the
dry-point. There are, however, two undoubted etchings by Durer with the
date 1515; two others executed in the same manner are dated 1516; and a
fifth, a landscape with a large cannon in the fore-ground to the left,
is dated 1518. There is another undoubted etching by Durer, representing
naked figures in a bath; but it contains neither his mark nor a date.
The three pieces which Mr. Ottley thinks were not etched, but executed
on some soft kind of metal with the dry-point, are: 1. The figure of
Christ, seen in front, standing, clothed with a mantle, having his hands
tied together, and on his head a crown of thorns; date 1512. 2. St.
Jerome seated amongst rocks, praying to a crucifix, with a book open
before him, and a lion below to the left; date 1512. 3. The Virgin,
seated with the infant Christ in her lap, and seen in front, with St.
Joseph behind her on the left, and on the right three other figures;
without mark or date.--One of the more common of Durer’s undoubted
etchings is that of a man mounted on a unicorn, and carrying off a naked
woman, with the date 1516.

Albert Durer not only excelled as a painter, an engraver on copper, and
a designer on wood, but he also executed several pieces of sculpture
with surprising delicacy and natural expression of character. An
admirable specimen of his skill in this department of art is preserved
in the British Museum, to which institution it was bequeathed by the
late R. Payne Knight, Esq., by whom it was purchased at Brussels for
five hundred guineas upwards of forty years ago. This most exquisite
piece of sculpture is of small dimensions, being only seven and three
quarter inches high, by five and a half wide. It is executed in
hone-stone, of a cream colour, and is all of one piece, with the
exception of a dog and one or two books in front. The subject is the
naming of John the Baptist.[V-36] In front, to the right, is an old man
with a tablet inscribed with Hebrew characters; another old man is seen
immediately behind him, further to the right; and a younger man,--said
to be intended by the artist for a portrait of himself,--appears
entering the door of the apartment. An old woman with the child in her
arms is seated near the figure with the tablet; St. Elizabeth is
perceived lying in bed, on the more distant side of which a female
attendant is standing, and on the other, nearer to the spectator, an
elderly man is seen kneeling. It is supposed that the latter figure is
intended for Zacharias, and that the artist had represented him in the
act of making signs to Elizabeth with his hands. The figures in the
fore-ground are executed in high relief, and the character and
expression of the heads have perhaps never been surpassed in any work of
sculpture executed on the same scale. Durer’s mark is perceived on a
tablet at the foot of the bed, with the date 1510. This curious specimen
of Durer’s talents as a sculptor is carefully preserved in a frame with
a glass before it, and is in most perfect condition, with the exception
of the hands of Zacharias and of Elizabeth, some of the fingers of which
are broken off.

    [Footnote V-36: The account of the naming of John the Baptist will
    be found in St. Luke’s Gospel, chap. i. verse 59-64.]

Shortly after Whitsuntide, 1520, Durer set out from Nuremberg,
accompanied by his wife and her servant Susanna, on a visit to the
Netherlands; and as he took with him several copies of his principal
works, engravings on copper as well as on wood, and painted and drew a
number of portraits during his residence there, the journey appears to
have been taken as much with a view to business as pleasure. He kept a
journal from the time of his leaving Nuremberg till the period of his
reaching Cologne on his return, and from this curious record of the
artist’s travels the following particulars of his visit to the
Netherlands have been obtained.[V-37]

    [Footnote V-37: Durer’s Journal of his Travels is given by Von
    Murr, 7er Theil, S. 55-98. The title which the Editor has prefixed
    to it is, “Reisejournal Albrecht Dürer’s von seiner
    Niederländischen Reise, 1520 und 1521. E. Bibliotheca Ebneriana.”
    In the same volume, Von Murr gives some specimens of Durer’s
    poetry. The first couplet which he made in 1509 is as follows:

      “Du aller Engel Spiegel und Erlöser der Welt,
      Deine grosse Marter sey für mein Sünd ein Widergelt.”

      Thou mirror of all Angels and Redeemer of mankind,
      Through thy martyrdom, for all my sins may I a ransom find.

    This couplet being ridiculed by Bilibald Pirkheimer, who said that
    rhyming verses ought not to consist of more than eight syllables,
    Durer wrote several others in a shorter measure, but with no
    better success; for he says at the conclusion, that they did not
    please the learned counsellor. With Durer’s rhymes there is an
    epistle in verse from his friend Lazarus Sprengel, written to
    dissuade him from attempting to become a poet. Durer’s verses want
    “the right butter-woman’s trot to market,” and are sadly deficient
    in rhythm when compared with the more regular clink of his

Durer proceeded from Nuremberg direct to Bamberg, where he presented to
the bishop a painting of the Virgin, with a copy of the Apocalypse and
the Life of the Virgin engraved on wood. The bishop invited Durer to his
table, and gave him a letter exempting his goods from toll, with three
others which were, most likely, letters of recommendation to persons of
influence in the Netherlands.[V-38] From Bamberg, Durer proceeded by way
of Eltman, Sweinfurth, and Frankfort to Mentz, and from the latter city
down the Rhine to Cologne. In this part of his journey he seems to have
met with little which he deemed worthy of remark: at Sweinfurth Dr.
Rebart made him a present of some wine; at Mentz, Peter Goldsmith’s
landlady presented him with two flasks of the same liquor; and when Veit
Varnbuler invited him to dinner there, the tavern-keeper would not
receive any payment, but insisted on being Durer’s host himself. At
Lohnstein, on the Rhine, between Boppart and Coblentz, the
toll-collector, who was well acquainted with Durer’s wife, presented him
with a can of wine, and expressed himself extremely glad to see him.

    [Footnote V-38: Subsequently, Durer mentions having delivered to
    the Margrave John, at Brussels, a letter of recommendation
    [Fürderbrief] from the Bishop of Bamberg.]

From Cologne, Durer proceeded direct to Antwerp, where he took up his
abode in the house of “Jobst Planckfelt;” and on the evening of his
arrival[V-39] he was invited to a splendid supper by Bernard Stecher, an
agent of the Fuggers, the celebrated family of merchants of Nuremberg,
and the most wealthy in Germany. On St. Oswald’s day, Sunday, 5th
August, the Painters’ Company of Antwerp invited Durer, with his wife
and her maid,[V-40] to a grand entertainment in their hall, which was
ornamented in a splendid manner, and all the vessels on the table were
of silver. The wives of the painters were also present; and when Durer
was conducted to his seat at the table “all the company stood up on each
side, as if some great lord had been making his entrance.” Several
honourable persons, who had also been invited, bowed to him; and all
expressed their respect and their wishes to afford him pleasure. While
he was at table the messenger of the magistrates of Antwerp made his
appearance, and presented him in their name with four flaggons of wine,
saying, that the magistrates thus testified their respect and their
good-will towards him. Durer, as in duty bound, returned thanks, and
tendered to the magisterial body his humble service. After this little
affair was despatched, entered Peter the city carpenter _in propria
persona_, and presented Durer with two more flaggons of wine, and
complimented him with the offer of his services. After the party had
enjoyed themselves cheerfully till late in the night, they attended
Durer to his lodgings with torches in a most honourable manner,
expressing their good-will towards him, and their readiness to assist
him in whatever manner he might choose.--Shortly after this grand
Fellowship-feast, Durer was entertained by Quintin Matsys,--frequently
called the Blacksmith of Antwerp,--whose celebrated picture of the
Misers is now in the Royal Collection at Windsor.

    [Footnote V-39: As Durer was at Cologne about the 26th July, it is
    probable that he would arrive at Antwerp about the last day of
    that month.]

    [Footnote V-40: The maid, Susanna, seems to have been rather a
    “humble friend” than a menial servant; for she is mentioned in
    another part of the Journal as being entertained with Durer’s wife
    at the house of “Tomasin Florianus,” whom Durer describes as
    “_Romanus_, von Luca bürtig.”]

On the Sunday after the Assumption,[V-41] Durer witnessed a grand
procession in honour of the Virgin, and the account which he has given
of it presents so curious a picture of the old religious pageantries
that it appears worthy of being translated without abridgement. “On the
Sunday after the Assumption of our Lady,” says the artist, “I saw the
grand procession from our Lady’s church at Antwerp, where all the
inhabitants of the city assembled, gentry as well as trades-people,
each, according to his rank, gayly dressed. Every class and fellowship
was distinguished by its proper badge; and large and valuable crosses
were borne before several of the crafts. There were also silver trumpets
of the old Frankish fashion; with German drums and fifes playing loudly.
I also saw in the street, marching after each other in rank, at a
certain distance, the Goldsmiths, the Painters, the Masons, the
Embroiderers, the Statuaries, the Cabinet-makers, the Carpenters, the
Sailors, the Fishermen, the Butchers, the Curriers, the Weavers, the
Bakers, the Tailors, the Shoemakers, and all kinds of craftsmen with
labourers engaged in producing the necessaries of life. In the same
manner came the Shopkeepers and Merchants with their assistants. After
these came the Shooters, with firelocks, bows, and cross-bows, some on
horseback and some on foot; and after them came the City Guard. These
were followed by persons of the higher classes and the magistrates, all
dressed in their proper habits; and after them came a gallant troop
arrayed in a noble and splendid manner. In this procession were a number
of females of a religious order who subsist by means of their labour,
all clothed in white from head to foot, and forming a very pleasing
sight. After them came a number of gallant persons and the canons of our
Lady’s church, with all the clergy and scholars, followed by a grand
display of characters. Twenty men carried the Virgin and Christ, most
richly adorned, to the honour of God. In this part of the procession
were a number of delightful things, represented in a splendid manner.
There were several waggons in which were representations of ships and
fortifications. Then came a troop of characters from the Prophets in
regular order, followed by others from the New Testament, such as the
Annunciation, the Wise Men of the East, riding on great camels and other
wonderful animals, and the Flight into Egypt, all very skilfully
appointed. Then came a great dragon, and St. Margaret, with the image of
the Virgin at her girdle, exceedingly beautiful; and last St. George and
his squire. In this troop rode a number of boys and girls very
handsomely arrayed in various costumes, representing so many saints.
This procession, from beginning to end, was upwards of two hours in
passing our house; and there were so many things to be seen, that I
could never describe them all even in a book.”[V-42]

    [Footnote V-41: The Assumption of the Virgin is celebrated in the
    Roman Catholic Church on the 15th August.]

    [Footnote V-42: Albrecht Dürer’s Reisejournal, in Von Murr, 7er
    Theil, S. 63-65.]

Though Durer chiefly resided at Antwerp during his stay in the
Netherlands, he did not entirely confine himself to that city, but
occasionally visited other places. On the 2nd of September 1520, he left
Antwerp for Brussels, proceeding by way of Malines and Vilvorde. When at
Brussels, he saw a number of valuable curiosities which had been sent to
the Emperor from Mexico, among which he enumerates a golden sun,
a fathom broad, and a silver moon of the same size, with weapons,
armour, and dresses, and various other admirable things of great beauty
and cost. He says that their value was estimated at a hundred thousand
guilders; and that he never saw any thing that pleased him so much in
his life. Durer was evidently fond of seeing sights; he speaks with
delight of the fountains, the labyrinths, and the parks in the
neighbourhood of the Royal Palace, which he says were like Paradise; and
among the wonders which he saw at Brussels, he notices a large fish-bone
which was almost a fathom in circumference and weighed fifteen
“centner;”[V-43] a great bed that would hold fifty men; and a stone
which fell from the sky in a thunder-storm in presence of the Count of
Nassau. He also mentions having seen at Antwerp the bones of a giant who
had been eighteen feet high. Durer and his wife seem to have had a taste
for zoology: Herr Lazarus Von Ravenspurg complimented him with a monkey;
and “Signor Roderigo,” a Portuguese, presented his ill-tempered spouse
with a green parrot.

    [Footnote V-43: This “gross Fischpein” was probably part of the
    back-bone of a whale.]

When at Brussels, Durer painted the portrait of the celebrated Erasmus,
from whom, previous to leaving Antwerp, he had received as a present a
Spanish mantle and three portraits. He remained about a week at
Brussels, during which time he drew or painted seven portraits; and in
his Journal he makes the following memorandum: “Item, six persons whose
likenesses I have taken at Brussels, have not given me anything.” Among
those portraits was that of Bernard Van Orley, an eminent Flemish
painter who had studied under Raffaele, and who at that time held the
office of painter to the Archduchess Margaret, regent of the
Netherlands, and aunt of the Emperor Charles V. When at Brussels, Durer
bought for a stiver[V-44] two copies of the “Eulenspiegel,” a celebrated
engraving by Lucas Van Leyden, now of very great rarity.

    [Footnote V-44: The stiver was the twenty-fourth part of a guilder
    or florin of gold, which was equal to about nine shillings English
    money of the present time; the stiver would therefore be equal to
    about four pence half-penny. About the same time, Durer sold a
    copy of his Christ’s Passion, probably the large one, for twelve
    stivers, and an impression of his copper-plate of Adam and Eve for
    four stivers. Shortly after his first arrival at Antwerp, he sold
    sixteen copies of the Little Passion for four guilders or florins;
    and thirty-two copies of his larger works,--probably the
    Apocalypse, the History of the Virgin, and the Great Passion,--for
    eight florins, being at the rate of sixteen stivers for each copy.
    He also sold six copies of the Passion engraved on copper at the
    same price. He gave to his host a painting of the Virgin on
    canvass to sell for two Rhenish florins. The sum that he received
    for each portrait in pencil [the German is mit Kohlen, which is
    literally charcoal], when the parties _did_ pay, appears to have
    been a florin.]

After remaining at Antwerp till the latter end of September, Durer
proceeded to Aix-la-Chapelle, where, on the 23rd of October, he
witnessed the coronation of the Emperor Charles V. He afterwards
proceeded to Cologne, where, on the Sunday after All Saints’ day, he saw
a grand banquet and dance given by the emperor, from whom, on the Monday
after Martinmas day, he received the appointment of court-painter to his
Imperial Majesty. When at Cologne, Durer bought a copy of the
“Condemnation of that good man, Martin Luther, for a white-penny.” This
Condemnation was probably a copy of the bull of excommunication issued
against Luther by Pope Leo X. on 20th June 1520. In a day or two after
receiving his appointment, Durer left Cologne and proceeded down the
Rhine, and visited Nimeguen. He then went to Bois-le-duc, where he was
entertained by Arnold de Beer, a painter of considerable reputation in
his day, and treated with great respect by the goldsmiths of the place.
On the Thursday after the Presentation of the Virgin,[V-45]--21st
November,--Durer again arrived at Antwerp. “In the seven weeks and
upwards that I was absent,” he writes in his Journal, “my wife and her
maid spent seven gold crowns. The first had her pocket cut off in St.
Mary’s church on St. Mary’s day; there were two guilders in it.”

    [Footnote V-45: In Von Murr the words are “Am Donnerstage nach
    Marien Himmelfahrt,”--On the Thursday after the _Assumption_ of
    the Virgin. But this is evidently incorrect, the feast of the
    Assumption being kept on 15th August. The “Marien Opferung”--the
    Presentation of the Virgin--which is commemorated on 21st
    November, is evidently meant.]

On the 3rd of December, Durer left Antwerp on a short journey through
Zealand, proceeding by way of Bergen-op-Zoom. In the Abbey at Middleburg
he saw the great picture of the Descent from the Cross by Mabeuse; of
which he remarks that “it is better painted than drawn.” When he was
about to land at Armuyden, a small town on the island of Walcheren, the
rope broke, and a violent wind arising, the boat which he was in was
driven out to sea. Some persons, however, at length came to their
assistance, and brought all the passengers safely ashore. On the Friday
after St. Lucia’s day he again returned to Antwerp, after having been
absent about twelve days.

On Shrove Tuesday, 1521, the company of goldsmiths invited Durer and his
wife to a dinner, at which he was treated with great honour; and as this
was an early meal, he was enabled at night to attend a grand banquet to
which he was invited by one of the chief magistrates of Antwerp. On the
Monday after his entertainment by the goldsmiths he was invited to
another grand banquet which lasted two hours, and where he won, at some
kind of game, two guilders of Bernard of Castile. Both at this and at
the magistrates’ banquet there was masquerading. At another
entertainment given by Master Peter the Secretary, Durer and Erasmus
were present. He was not idle at this period of festivity, but drew
several portraits in pencil. He also made a drawing for “Tomasin,” and a
painting of St. Jerome for Roderigo of Portugal, who appears to have
been one of the most liberal of all Durer’s Antwerp friends. Besides the
little green parrot which he gave his wife, he also presented Durer with
one for himself; he also gave him a small cask of comfits, with various
other sweetmeats, and specimens of the sugar-cane. He also made him a
present of cocoa-nuts and of several other things; and shortly before
the painting was finished, Signor Roderigo gave him two large pieces of
Portuguese gold coin, each of which was worth ten ducats.

On the Saturday after Easter, Durer visited Bruges, where he saw in St.
James’s church some beautiful paintings by Hubert Van Eyck and Hugo
Vander Goes; and in the Painters’ chapel, and in other churches, he saw
several by John Van Eyck; he also mentions having seen, in St. Mary’s
church, an image of the Virgin in alabaster by Michael Angelo. The guild
of painters invited him to a grand banquet in their hall. Two of the
magistrates, Jacob and Peter Mostaert, presented him with twelve
flaggons of wine; and on the conclusion of the entertainment, all the
company, amounting to sixty persons, accompanied him with torches to his
lodgings. He next visited Ghent, where the company of painters also
treated him with great respect. He there saw, in St. John’s church, the
celebrated picture of the Elders worshipping the Lamb, from the
Revelations, painted by John Van Eyck for Philip the Good, Duke of
Burgundy. Durer thus expresses his opinion of it: “This is a well
conceived and capital picture; the figures of Eve, the Virgin, and God
the Father, are, in particular, extremely good.” After being about a
week absent, he again returned to Antwerp, where he was shortly after
seized with an intermitting fever, which was accompanied with a violent
head-ache and great sense of weariness. This illness, however, does not
seem to have lasted very long; his fever commenced in the third week
after Easter, and on Rogation Sunday he attended the marriage feast of
“Meister Joachim,”--probably Joachim Patenier, a landscape painter whom
Durer mentions in an earlier part of his Journal.

Durer was a man of strong religious feelings; and when Luther began to
preach in opposition to the church of Rome, he warmly espoused his
cause. The following passages from his Journal sufficiently demonstrate
the interest which he felt in the success of the great champion of the
Reformation. Luther on his return from Worms, where he had attended the
Diet under a safe-conduct granted by the Emperor Charles V, was waylaid,
on 4th May 1521, by a party of armed men, who caused him to descend from
the light waggon in which he was travelling, and to follow them into an
adjacent wood. His brother James, who was in the waggon with him, made
his escape on the first appearance of the horsemen. Luther having been
secured, the driver and others who were in the waggon were allowed to
pursue their journey without further hindrance. This secret apprehension
of Luther was, in reality, contrived by his friend and supporter,
Frederick, Elector of Saxony,[V-46] in order to withdraw him for a time
from the apprehended violence of his enemies, whose hatred towards him
had been more than ever inflamed by the bold and undisguised statement
of his opinions at Worms. Luther’s friends, being totally ignorant of
the elector’s design, generally supposed that the safe-conduct had been
disregarded by those whose duty it was to respect it, and that he had
been betrayed and delivered into the hands of his enemies. Durer, on
hearing of Luther’s apprehension, writes in his Journal as follows.

    [Footnote V-46: Luther’s safe-conduct from Worms to Wittenberg was
    limited to twenty-one days, at the expiration of which he was
    declared to be under the ban of the empire, or, in other words, an
    outlaw, to whom no prince or free city of Germany was to afford a
    refuge. Luther, previous to leaving Worms, was informed of the
    elector’s intention of secretly apprehending him on the road and
    conveying him to a place of safety. After getting into the wood,
    Luther was mounted on horseback, and conveyed to Wartburg,
    a castle belonging to the elector, where he continued to live
    disguised as a knight--Junker Jörge--till March 1522. Luther was
    accustomed to call the castle of Wartburg his Patmos.]

“On the Friday after Whitsuntide, 1521, I heard a report at Antwerp,
that Martin Luther had been treacherously seized; for the herald of the
Emperor Charles, who attended him with a safe-conduct, and to whose
protection he was committed, on arriving at a lonely place near
Eisenach, said he durst proceed no further, and rode away. Immediately
ten horsemen made their appearance, and carried off the godly man thus
betrayed into their hands. He was indeed a man enlightened by the Holy
Ghost, and a follower of the true Christian faith. Whether he be yet
living, or whether his enemies have put him to death, I know not; yet
certainly what he has suffered has been for the sake of truth, and
because he has reprehended the abuses of unchristian papacy, which
strives to fetter Christian liberty with the incumbrance of human
ordinances, that we may be robbed of the price of our blood and sweat,
and shamefully plundered by idlers, while the sick and needy perish
through hunger. Above all, it is especially distressing to me to think
that God may yet allow us to remain under the blind doctrine which those
men called ‘the fathers’ have imagined and set forth, whereby the
precious word is either in many places falsely expounded or not at all

    [Footnote V-47: Durer, though an advocate of Luther, does not seem
    to have withdrawn himself from the communion of the Church of
    Rome. In his Journal, in 1521, he enters a sum of ten stivers
    given to his confessor, and, subsequently, eight stivers given to
    a monk who visited his wife when she was sick. The passage in
    which the last item occurs is curious, and seems to prove that
    female practitioners were then accustomed both to dispense and
    administer medical preparations at Antwerp. “Meine Frau ward
    krank,--der Apothekerinn für Klystiren gegeben 14 Stüber; dem
    Mönch, der sie besuchte, 8 Stüber.”--Von Murr, Journal, 7er Theil,
    S. 93.]

After indulging in sundry pious invocations and reflections to the
extent of two or three pages, Durer thus proceeds to lament the supposed
death of Luther, and to invoke Erasmus to put his hand to the work from
which he believed that Luther had been removed. “And is Luther dead? Who
henceforth will so clearly explain to us the Gospel? Alas! what might he
not have written for us in ten or twenty years? Aid me, all pious
Christians, to bewail this man of heavenly mind, and to pray that God
may send us another as divinely enlightened. Where, O Erasmus, wilt thou
remain? Behold, now, how the tyranny of might and the power of darkness
prevail. Hear, thou champion of Christ! Ride forward, defend the truth,
and deserve the martyr’s crown, for thou art already an old man.[V-48]
I have heard from thy own mouth that thou hast allotted to thyself two
years yet of labour in which thou mightst still be able to produce
something good; employ these well for the benefit of the Gospel and the
true Christian faith: let then thy voice be heard, and so shall not the
see of Rome, the gates of Hell, as Christ saith, prevail against thee.
And though, like thy master, thou shouldst bear the scorn of the liars,
and even die a short time earlier than thou otherwise mightst, yet wilt
thou therefore pass earlier from death unto eternal life and be
glorified through Christ. If thou drinkest of the cup of which he drank,
so wilt thou reign with him and pronounce judgment on those who have
acted unrighteously.”[V-49]

    [Footnote V-48: This inducement for Erasmus to stand forth as a
    candidate for the honour of martyrdom is, in the original, as
    simple in expression as it is novel in conception: “Du bist doch
    sonst ein altes Menniken.” Literally: For thou art already an old
    _mannikin_. Erasmus, however, was not a spirit to be charmed to
    enter such a circle by such an invocation. As he said of himself,
    “his gift did not lie that way,” and he had as little taste for
    martyrdom as he had for fish.--In one or two other passages in
    Durer’s Journal there is an allusion to the diminutive stature of

    [Footnote V-49: Von Murr, Journal, 7er Theil, S. 88-93. In volume
    X, p. 41, Von Murr gives from Peucer, the son-in-law of
    Melancthon, the following anecdote: “Melancthon, when at
    Nuremberg, on church and university affairs, was much in the
    society of Pirkheimer; and Albert Durer, the painter, an
    intelligent man, whose least merit, as Melancthon used to say, was
    his art, was frequently one of the party. Between Pirkheimer and
    Durer there were frequent disputes respecting the recent
    [religious] contest, in which Durer, as he was a man of strong
    mind, vigorously opposed Pirkheimer, and refuted his arguments as
    if he had come prepared for the discussion. Pirkheimer growing
    warm, for he was very irritable and much plagued with the gout,
    would sometimes exclaim “Not so:--these things cannot be
    _painted_.”--“And the arguments which you allege,” Durer would
    reply, “can neither be correctly expressed nor
    comprehended.”--Whatever might have been the particular points in
    dispute between the two friends, Pirkheimer, as well as Durer, was
    a supporter of the doctrines of Luther.”]

About this time a large wood-cut, of which the following is a reduced
copy, was published; and though the satire which it contains will apply
equally to any monk who may be supposed to be an instrument of the
devil, it was probably directed against Luther in particular, as a
teacher of false doctrine through the inspiration of the father of lies.
In the cut the arch-enemy, as a bag-piper, is seen blowing into the ear
of a monk, whose head forms the “bag,” and by skilful fingering causing
the nose, elongated in the form of a “chanter,” to discourse sweet
music. The preaching friars of former times were no less celebrated for
their nasal melody than the “saints” in the days of Cromwell. A serious
portrait of Luther, probably engraved or drawn on wood by Hans Baldung
Grün, a pupil of Durer, was also published in 1521. It is printed in a
quarto tract, entitled, “Acta et Res gestæ D. Martini Lutheri in
Comitiis Principum Vuormaciæ, Anno MDXXI,” and also in a tract, written
by Luther himself in answer to Jerome Emser, without date, but probably
printed at Wittenberg about 1523. In this portrait, which bears
considerable resemblance to the head forming the bag of Satan’s pipe,
Luther appears as if meditating on a passage that he has just read in a
volume which he holds open; his head is surrounded with rays of glory;
and the Holy Ghost, in the form of a dove, appears as if about to settle
on his shaven crown. In an impression now before me, some one,
apparently a contemporary, who thought that Luther’s inspiration was
derived from another source, has with pen and ink transformed the dove
into one of those unclean things between bat and serpent, which are
supposed to be appropriate to the regions of darkness, and which are
generally to be seen in paintings and engravings of the temptation of
St. Anthony.


A week after Corpus Christi day[V-50] Durer left Antwerp for Malines,
where the Archduchess Margaret, the aunt of the emperor Charles V, was
then residing. He took up his lodgings with Henry de Bles, a painter of
considerable reputation, called Civetta by the Italians, from the owl
which he painted as a mark in most of his pictures; and the painters and
statuaries, as at Antwerp and other places, invited him to an
entertainment and treated him with great respect. He waited on the
archduchess and showed her his portrait of the emperor, and would have
presented it to her, but she would by no means accept of it;--probably
because she could not well receive such a gift without making the artist
a suitable return, for it appears, from a subsequent passage in Durer’s
Journal, that she had no particular objection to receive other works of
art when they cost her nothing.

    [Footnote V-50: Corpus Christi day is a moveable festival, and is
    celebrated on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday.]

In the course of a few days Durer returned to Antwerp, where he shortly
afterwards saw Lucas Van Leyden, the celebrated painter and engraver,
whose plates at that time were by many considered nearly equal to his
own. Durer’s brief notice of his talented contemporary is as follows:
“Received an invitation from Master Lucas, who engraves on copper. He is
a little man, and a native of Leyden in Holland.” Subsequently he
mentions having drawn Lucas’s portrait in crayons; and having exchanged
some of his own works to the value of eight florins for a complete set
of Lucas’s engravings. Durer in this part of his Journal, after
enumerating the portraits he had taken and the exchanges he had made
since his return from Malines to Antwerp, thus speaks of the manner in
which he was rewarded: “In all my transactions in the Netherlands--for
my paintings, drawings, and in disposing of my works--both with high and
low I have had the disadvantage. The Lady Margaret, especially, for all
that I have given her and done for her, has not made me the least

Durer now began to make preparations for his return home. He engaged a
waggoner to take him and his wife to Cologne; he exchanged a portrait of
the emperor for some white English cloth; and, on 1st July, he borrowed
of Alexander Imhoff a hundred gold guilders to be repaid at Nuremberg;
another proof that Durer, though treated with great distinction in the
Low Countries, had not derived much pecuniary advantage during the
period of his residence there. On the 2nd July, when he was about to
leave Antwerp, the King of Denmark, Christian II, who had recently
arrived in Flanders, sent for him to take his portrait. He first drew
his majesty with black chalk--mit der Kohlen--and afterwards went with
him to Brussels, where he appears to have painted his portrait in oil
colours, and for which he received thirty florins. At Brussels, on the
Sunday before St. Margaret’s Day,[V-51] the King of Denmark gave a grand
banquet to the Emperor and the Archduchess Margaret, to which Durer had
the honour of being invited, and failed not to attend. On the following
Friday he left Brussels to return to Nuremberg, proceeding by way of
Aix-la-Chapelle to Cologne.

    [Footnote V-51: St. Margaret’s day is the 20th July.]

Out of a variety of other matters which Durer has mentioned in his
Journal, the following--which could not be conveniently given in
chronological order in the preceding abstract--may not, perhaps, be
wholly uninteresting. He painted a portrait of one Nicholas, an
astronomer, who was in the service of the King of England, and who was
of great service to Durer on several occasions.[V-52] He gave one florin
and eight stivers for wood, but whether for drawing on, or for fuel, is
uncertain. He only mentions having made two drawings on wood during his
residence in the Low Countries, and both were of the arms of Von
Rogendorff, noticed at page 236. In one of those instances, he
distinctly says that he made the drawing, “_das man’s schneiden
mag_”--that it may be engraved. The word “_man’s_” clearly shows that it
was to be engraved by another person.--He mentions that since Raffaele’s
death his works are dispersed--“_verzogen_,”--and that one of that
master’s pupils, by name “Thomas Polonier,” had called on him and made
him a present of an antique ring. In a subsequent passage he calls this
person “Thomas Polonius,” and says that he had given him a set of his
works to be sent to Rome and exchanged for “_Raphaelische
Sache_”--things by Raffaele.

    [Footnote V-52: Durer says that this astronomer was a German, and
    a native of Munich.]

It has been said, though without sufficient authority, that Durer, weary
of a home where he was made miserable by his bad-tempered, avaricious
wife, left Nuremberg, and visited the Low Countries alone for the
purpose of avoiding her constant annoyance. There is, however, no
evidence of Durer’s visiting the Low Countries previous to 1520, when he
was accompanied by his wife; nor is there any authentic record of his
ever again visiting Flanders subsequent to the latter end of August
1521, when he left Brussels to return to Nuremberg. In 1522, Durer
published the first edition of the Triumphal Car of the Emperor
Maximilian, the designs for which had probably been made five or six
years before. One of the best portraits drawn by Durer on wood also
bears the date 1522. It is that of his friend Ulrich Varnbuler,[V-53]--
mentioned at page 253,--and is of large size, being about seventeen
inches high by twelve and three-fourths wide. The head is full of
character, and the engraving is admirably executed. From 1522 to 1528,
the year of Durer’s death, he seems to have almost entirely given up the
practice of drawing on wood, as there are only three cuts with his mark
which contain a date between those years; they are his own arms dated
1523; his own portrait dated 1527; and the siege of a fortified city
previously noticed at page 253, also dated 1527. The following is a
reduced copy of the cut of Durer’s arms. The pair of _doors_ on the
shield--in German _Durer_ or _Thurer_--is a rebus of the artist’s name;
after the manner of the Lucys of our own country, who bore three
_luces_,[V-54] or pikes--fish, not weapons--argent, in their coat of

    [Footnote V-53: Ulrich Varnbuler was subsequently the chancellor
    of the Emperor Ferdinand I. Durer mentions him in a letter
    addressed to “Hernn Frey in Zurich,” and dated from Nuremberg on
    the Sunday _after St. Andrew’s day_, 1523. With this letter Durer
    sent to his correspondent a humorous sketch, in pen and ink, of
    apes dancing, which in 1776 was still preserved in the Public
    Library of Basle. The date of this letter proves the incorrectness
    of Mr. Ottley’s statement, in page 723 of his Inquiry, where he
    says that Durer did not return to Nuremberg from the Low Countries
    “until _the middle of the year_ 1524.” Mr. Ottley is not more
    correct when he says, at page 735, that the portrait of Varnbuler
    is the “size of nature.”]

    [Footnote V-54: It is supposed that Shakspeare, in alluding to the
    “dozen white luces” in Master Shallow’s coat of arms,--Merry Wives
    of Windsor, Act I,--intended to ridicule Sir Thomas Lucy of
    Charlecotte, Wiltshire, before whom he is said to have been
    brought in his youth on a charge of deer-stealing.]


The last of Durer’s engravings on copper is a portrait of Melancthon,
dated 1526, the year in which the meek and learned reformer visited
Nuremberg. The following is a reduced copy of his own portrait, perhaps
the last drawing that he made on wood. It is probably a good likeness of
the artist; at any rate it bears a great resemblance to the portrait
said to be intended for Durer’s own in his carving of the naming of St.
John, of which some account is given at page 259. The size of the
original is eleven inches and three-eighths high by ten inches wide.
According to Bartsch, the earliest impressions have not the arms and
mark, and are inscribed above the border at the top: “_Albrecht Durer’s
Conterfeyt_”--Albert Durer’s portrait. It would seem that the block had
been preserved for many years subsequent to the date, for I have now
before me an impression, on comparatively modern paper, from which it is
evident that at the time of its being taken, the block had been much
corroded by worms.


It is probable that between 1522 and 1528 the treatises of which Durer
is the author were chiefly composed. Their Titles are An Essay on the
Fortification of Towns and Villages; Instructions for Measuring with the
Rule and Compass; and On the Proportions of the Human Body.[V-55] They
were all published at Nuremberg with illustrative wood-cuts; the first
in 1527, and the other two in 1528. It is to the latter work that
Hogarth alludes, in his Analysis of Beauty, when he speaks of Albert
Durer, Lamozzo, and others, having “puzzled mankind with a heap of
minute unnecessary divisions” in their rules for correctly drawing the
human figure.

    [Footnote V-55: Etliche Underricht zu Befestigung der Stett,
    Schloss, und Flecken; Underweysung der Messung mit der Zirckel und
    Richtscheyt; Bucher von Menschlicher Proportion. All in folio.
    Those treatises were subsequently translated into Latin and
    several times reprinted. The treatise on the Proportions of the
    Human Body was also translated into French and printed at Paris in
    1557. A collection of Durer’s writings was published by J. Jansen,

After a life of unremitted application,--as is sufficiently proved by
the number of his works as a painter, an engraver, and a designer on
wood,--Albert Durer died at Nuremberg on 6th April 1528, in the
fifty-seventh year of his age. His wife’s wretched temper had
unquestionably rendered the latter years of his life very unhappy, and
in her eagerness to obtain money she appears to have urged her husband
to what seems more like the heartless toil of a slave than an artist’s
exercise of his profession. It is said that her sitting-room was under
her husband’s studio, and that she was accustomed to give an admonitory
knock against the ceiling whenever she suspected that he was “not
getting forward with his work.” The following extracts from a letter,
written by Bilibald Pirkheimer shortly after Durer’s death, will show
that common fame has not greatly belied this heartless, selfish woman,
in ascribing, in a great measure, her husband’s death to the daily
vexation which she caused him, and to her urging him to continual
application in order that a greater sum might be secured to her on his
decease. The passages relating to Durer in Pirkheimer’s letter are to
the following effect.[V-56]

    [Footnote V-56: This letter is addressed to “Johann Tscherte,” an
    architect residing at Vienna, the mutual friend of Pirkheimer and
    Durer.--Von Murr, Journal, 10er Theil, S. 36.]

“I have indeed lost in Albert one of the best friends I had on earth;
and nothing pains me more than the thought of his death having been so
melancholy, which, next to the will of Providence, I can ascribe to no
one but his wife, for she fretted him so much and tasked him so hard
that he departed sooner than he otherwise would. He was dried up like a
bundle of straw; durst never enjoy himself nor enter into company. This
bad woman, moreover, was anxious about that for which she had no
occasion to take heed,--she urged him to labour day and night solely
that he might earn money, even at the cost of his life, and leave it to
her; she was content to live despised, as she does still, provided
Albert might leave her six thousand guilders. But she cannot enjoy them:
the sum of the matter is, she alone has been the cause of his death.
I have often expostulated with her about her fretful, jealous conduct,
and warned her what the consequences would be, but have only met with
reproach. To the friends and sincere well-wishers of Albert she was sure
to be the enemy; while such conduct was to him a cause of exceeding
grief, and contributed to bring him to the grave. I have not seen her
since his death; she will have nothing to say to me, although I have on
many occasions rendered her great service. Whoever contradicts her, or
gives not way to her in all things, is sure to incur her enmity; I am,
therefore, better pleased that she should keep herself away. She and her
sister are not indeed women of loose character; but, on the contrary,
are, as I believe, of honest reputation and religious; one would,
however, rather have one of the other kind who otherwise conducts
herself in a pleasant manner, than a fretful, jealous, scolding
wife--however devout she may be--with whom a man can have no peace
either day or night. We must, however, leave the matter to the will of
God, who will be gracious and merciful to Albert, for his life was that
of a pious and righteous man. As he died like a good Christian, we may
have little doubt of his salvation. God grant us grace, and that in his
own good time we may happily follow Albert.”

The popular error,--as I believe it to be,--that Albert Durer was an
engraver on wood, has not tended, in England, where his works as a
painter are but little known, to increase his reputation. Many persons
on looking over the wood engravings which bear his mark have thought but
meanly of their execution; and have concluded that his abilities as an
artist were much over-rated, on the supposition that his fame chiefly
rested on the presumed fact of his being the engraver of those works.
Certain writers, too, speaking of him as a painter and an engraver on
copper, have formed rather an unfavourable estimate of his talents, by
comparing his pictures with those of his great Italian contemporaries,--
Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, and Raffaele,--and by judging of his
engravings with reference to the productions of modern art, in which the
freedom and effect of etching are combined with the precision and
clearness of lines produced by the burin. This, however, is judging the
artist by an unfair standard. Though he has not attained, nor indeed
attempted, that sublimity which seems to have been principally the aim
of the three great Italian masters above mentioned, he has produced much
that is beautiful, natural, and interesting; and which, though it may
not stand so high in the scale of art as the grand compositions of his
three great contemporaries, is no less necessary to its completion. The
field which he cultivated, though not yielding productions so noble or
splendid as theirs, was of greater extent and afforded greater variety.
If they have left us more sublime conceptions of past and future events,
Durer has transmitted to us more faithful pictures of the characters,
manners, and customs of his own times. Let those who are inclined to
depreciate his engravings on copper, as dry and meagre when compared
with the productions of modern engravers, consider the state in which he
found the art; and let them also recollect that he was not a mere
translator of another person’s ideas, but that he engraved his own
designs. Setting aside his merits as a painter, I am of opinion that no
artist of the present day has produced, from his own designs, three such
engravings as Durer’s Adam and Eve, St. Jerome seated in his chamber
writing, and the subject entitled Melancolia.[V-57] Let it also not be
forgotten that to Albert Durer we owe the discovery of etching; a branch
of the art which gives to modern engravers, more especially in
landscape, so great an advantage over the original inventor. Looking
impartially at the various works of Durer, and considering the period
and the country in which he lived, few, I think, will venture to deny
that he was one of the greatest artists of his age. The best proof
indeed of the solidity of his fame is afforded by the esteem in which
his works have been held for three centuries by nearly all persons who
have had opportunities of seeing them, except such as have, upon narrow
principles, formed an exclusive theory with respect to excellence in
art. With such authorities nothing can be beautiful or interesting that
is not _grand_; every country parish church should be built in the style
of a Grecian temple; our woods should grow nothing but oaks; a country
gentleman’s dove-cot should be a fac-simile of the lantern of
Demosthenes; the sign of the Angel at a country inn should be painted
by a Guido; and a picture representing the meeting of the British
Association for the Advancement of Science should be in the style of
Raffaele’s School of Athens.

    [Footnote V-57: Those three engravings are respectively numbered
    1, 60, and 67 in Bartsch’s list of Durer’s works in his
    Peintre-Graveur, tom. vii. The Adam and Eve is nine inches and
    three-fourths high by seven inches and a half wide,--date 1504;
    St. Jerome, nine inches and five-eighths high by seven inches and
    three-eighths wide,--date 1514; Melancolia, nine inches and
    three-eighths high by seven inches and one fourth wide,--date

Lucas Cranach, a painter of great repute in his day, like his
contemporary Durer has also been supposed to be the engraver of the
wood-cuts which bear his mark, but which, in all probability, were only
drawn by him on the block and executed by professional wood engravers.
The family name of this artist was Sunder, and he is also sometimes
called Muller or Maler--Painter--from his profession. He acquired the
name Cranach, or Von Cranach, from Cranach, a town in the territory of
Bamberg, where he was born in 1470. He enjoyed the patronage of the
electoral princes of Saxony, and one of the most frequent of his marks
is a shield of the arms of that family. Another of his marks is a shield
with two swords crossed; a third is a kind of dragon; and a fourth is
the initial letters of his name, L. C. Sometimes two or three of those
marks are to be found in one cut. There are four engravings on copper
with the mark [[LCZ]] which are generally ascribed to this artist. That
they are from his designs is very likely, but whether they were engraved
by himself or not is uncertain. One of them bears the date 1492, and it
is probable that they were all executed about the same period. Two of
those pieces were in the possession of Mr. Ottley, who says, “Perhaps
the two last characters of the mark may be intended for _Cr_.” It seems,
however, more likely that the last character is intended for the letter
which it most resembles--a Z, and that it denotes the German word
_zeichnet_--that is “_drew_;” in the same manner as later artists
occasionally subjoined the letter P or F to their names for _Pinxit_ or
_Fecit_, respectively as they might have painted the picture or engraved
the plate.

One of the earliest chiaro-scuros, as has before been observed, printed
from three blocks, is from a design of Lucas Cranach. It is dated 1509,
nine years before the earliest chiaro-scuro with a date executed by Ugo
da Carpi, to whom Vasari and others have erroneously ascribed the
invention of this mode of imitating a drawing by impressions from two or
more wood-blocks. The subject, like that of the following specimen, is a
Repose in Egypt, but is treated in a different manner,--the Virgin being
represented giving suck to the infant Christ.

The wood engravings that contain Cranach’s mark are not so numerous as
those which contain the mark of Albert Durer, and they are also
generally inferior to the latter both in effect and design. The
following reduced copy of a cut which contains three of Cranach’s four
marks will afford some idea of the style of his designs on wood. As a
specimen of his ability in this branch of art it is perhaps superior to
the greater part of his designs executed in the same manner. The subject
is described by Bartsch as a Repose in Egypt. The action of the youthful
angels who are dancing round the Virgin and the infant Christ is
certainly truly juvenile if not graceful. The two children seen up the
tree robbing an eagle’s nest are perhaps emblematic of the promised
peace of Christ’s kingdom and of the destruction of the power of Satan:
“No lion shall be there nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it
shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.”[V-58] In
the right-hand corner at the top is the shield of the arms of Saxony;
and to the left, also at the top, is another of Cranach’s marks--a
shield with two swords crossed; in the right-hand corner at the bottom
is a third mark,--the figure of a kind of dragon with a ring in its
mouth. The size of the original cut is thirteen inches and one-fourth
high by nine inches and one-fourth wide.

    [Footnote V-58: Isaiah, chapter xxxv. verse 9.]


Cranach was much esteemed in his own country as a painter, and several
of his pictures are still regarded with admiration. He was in great
favour with John Frederick, Elector of Saxony,[V-59] and at one period
of his life was one of the magistrates of Wittenberg. He died at Weimar,
on 16th October 1553, aged eighty-three.

    [Footnote V-59: One of the largest wood-cuts designed by Cranach
    is a subject representing the baptism of some saint; and having on
    one side a portrait of Frederick, Elector of Saxony, and on the
    other a portrait of Luther. The block has consisted of three
    pieces, and from the impressions it seems as if the parts
    containing the portraits of the elector and Luther had been added
    after the central part had been finished. The piece altogether is
    comparatively worthless in design, and is very indifferently

Another eminent painter who has been classed with Durer and Cranach as a
wood engraver is Hans Burgmair, who was born at Augsburg about 1473. The
mark of this artist is to be found on a great number of wood engravings,
but beyond this fact there is not the least reason to suppose that he
ever engraved a single block. To those who have described Burgmair as a
wood engraver from this circumstance only, a most satisfactory answer is
afforded by the fact that several of the original blocks of the Triumphs
of Maximilian, which contain Burgmair’s mark, have at the back the names
of the different engravers by whom they were executed. As we have here
positive evidence of cuts with Burgmair’s mark being engraved by other
persons, we cannot certainly conclude that any cut, from the mere fact
of its containing his mark, was actually engraved by himself. Next to
Albert Durer he was one of the best designers on wood of his age; and as
one of the early masters of the German school of painting he is
generally considered as entitled to rank next to the great painter of
Nuremberg. It has indeed been supposed that Burgmair was a pupil of
Durer; but for this opinion there seems to be no sufficient ground. It
is certain that he made many of the designs for the wood-cuts published
under the title of The Triumphs of Maximilian; and it is also probable
that he drew nearly all the cuts in the book entitled Der Weiss
Kunig--The Wise King, another work illustrative of the learning, wisdom,
and adventures of the Emperor Maximilian.[V-60] Before proceeding,
however, to give any account of those works, it seems advisable to give
two specimens from a different series of wood-cuts of his designing, and
to briefly notice two or three of the more remarkable single cuts that
bear his mark.

    [Footnote V-60: Burgmair also made the designs for a series of
    saints, male and female, of the family of the emperor, which are
    also engraved on wood. The original blocks, with the names of the
    engravers written at the back, are still preserved, and are at
    present in the Imperial Library at Vienna.]

The cut on the opposite page is a reduced copy from a series designed by
Burgmair. The subject is Samson and Delilah, and is treated according to
the old German fashion, without the least regard to propriety of
costume. Samson is represented like a grisly old German baron of
Burgmair’s own time, with limbs certainly not indicating extraordinary
strength; and Delilah seems very deliberately engaged in cutting off his
hair. The wine flagon and fowl, to the left, would seem to indicate the
danger of yielding to sensual indulgence. The original cut is surrounded
by an ornamental border, and is four inches and five-eighths high by
three inches and five-eighths wide. Burgmair’s mark H. B. is at the
bottom of the cut, to the right.


The cut on page 280 is also a reduced copy from one of the same series,
and is a proof that those who call the whole by the general title of
“Bible Prints” are not exactly correct in their nomenclature. The
somewhat humorous-looking personage, whom a lady is using as her pad, is
thus described in an inscription underneath the cut: “Aristotle, a
Greek, the son of Nicomachus. A disciple of Plato, and the master of
Alexander the Great.” Though Aristotle is said to have been extremely
fond of his wife Pythaïs, and to have paid her divine honours after her
death, there is no record, I believe, of her having amused herself with
riding on her husband’s back. The subject is probably intended to
illustrate the power of the fair sex over even the wisest of mortals,
and to show that philosophers themselves when under such influence
occasionally forget their character as teachers of men, and exhibit
themselves in situations which scarcely an ass might envy. The original
is surrounded by a border, and is four inches and five-eighths high by
three inches and five-eighths wide.


There are several chiaro-scuros from wood-blocks with Burgmair’s mark.
One of the earliest is a portrait of “Joannes Paungartner,” from two
blocks, with the date 1512; another of St. George on horseback, from two
blocks, engraved by Jost or Josse de Negher, without date; a third
representing a young woman flying from Death, who is seen killing a
young man,--from three blocks, without date; and a fourth of the Emperor
Maximilian on horseback, from two blocks, with the date 1518.

The best cuts of Burgmair’s designing, though drawn with great spirit
and freedom, are decidedly inferior to the best of the wood-cuts
designed by Albert Durer. Errors in perspective are frequent in the cuts
which bear his mark; his figures are not so varied nor their characters
so well indicated as Durer’s; and in their arrangement, or grouping, he
is also inferior to Durer, as well as in the art of giving effect to his
subjects by the skilful distribution of light and shade. The cuts in the
Wise King, nearly all of which are said to have been designed by him,
are, for the most part, very inferior productions both with respect to
engraving and design. His merits as a designer on wood are perhaps shown
to greater advantage in the Triumphs of Maximilian than in any other of
his works executed in this manner.--Some writers have asserted that
Burgmair died in 1517, but this is certainly incorrect; for there is a
portrait of him, with that of his wife on the same pannel, painted by
himself in 1529, when he was fifty-six years old. Underneath this
painting was a couplet to the following effect:

  Our likeness such as here you view;--
  The glass itself was not more true.[V-61]

    [Footnote V-61:
      “Solche Gestalt unser baider was,
      Im Spigel aber nix dan das!”
    A small engraving in a slight manner appears to have been made of
    the portraits of Burgmair and his wife by George Christopher
    Kilian, an artist of Augsburg, about 1774.--Von Murr, Journal,
    4er Theil, S. 22.]

Burgmair, like Cranach, lived till he was upwards of eighty; but it
would seem that he had given up drawing on wood for many years previous
to his death, for I am not aware of there being any wood-cuts designed
by him with a date subsequent to 1530. He died in 1559, aged eighty-six.

Hans Schäufflein is another of those old German painters who are
generally supposed to have been also engravers on wood. Bartsch,
however, thinks that, like Durer, Cranach, and Burgmair, he only made
the designs for the wood-cuts which are ascribed to him, and that they
were engraved by other persons. Schäufflein was born at Nuremberg in
1483; and it is said that he was a pupil of Albert Durer. Subsequently
he removed to Nordlingen, a town in Suabia, about sixty miles to the
south-westward of Nuremberg, where he died in 1550.

The wood-cuts in connexion with which Schäufllein’s name is most
frequently mentioned are the illustrations of the work usually called
the Adventures of Sir Theurdank,[V-62] an allegorical poem, in folio,
which is said to have been the joint composition of the Emperor
Maximilian and his private secretary Melchior Pfintzing, provost of the
church of St. Sebald at Nuremberg. Though Köhler, a German author, in an
Essay on Sir Theurdank,--De inclyto libro poetico Theurdank,--has highly
praised the poetical beauties of the work, they are certainly not such
as are likely to interest an English reader. “The versified allegory of
Sir Theurdank,” says Küttner,[V-63] “is deficient in true Epic beauty;
it has also nothing, as a poem, of the romantic descriptions of the
thirteenth century,--nothing of the delicate gallantry of the age of
chivalry and the troubadours. The machinery which sets all in action are
certain personifications of Envy, restless Curiosity, and Daring; these
induce the hero to undertake many perilous adventures, from which he
always escapes through Understanding and Virtue. Such is the groundwork
of the fable which Pfintzing constructs in order to extol, under
allegorical representations, the perils, adventures, and heroic deeds of
the emperor. Everything is described so figuratively as to amount to a
riddle; and the story proceeds with little connexion and without
animation. There are no striking descriptive passages, no Homeric
similes, and no episodes to allow the reader occasionally to rest; in
fact, nothing admirable, spirit-stirring, or great. The poem is indeed
rather moral than epic; Lucan’s Pharsalia partakes more of the epic
character than Pfintzing’s Theurdank. Pfintzing, however, surpasses the
Cyclic poets alluded to by Horace.”[V-64]

    [Footnote V-62: The original title of the work is: “Die
    gevarlichkeiten und eins teils der Geschichten des loblichen
    streytparen und hochberümbten Helds und Ritters Tewrdanckha.” That
    is: The adventurous deeds and part of the history of the famous,
    valiant, and highly-renowned hero Sir Theurdank. The name,
    Theurdank, in the language of the period, would seem to imply a
    person whose thoughts were only employed on noble and elevated
    subjects. Goethe, who in his youth was fond of looking over old
    books illustrated with wood-cuts, alludes to Sir Theurdank in his
    admirable play of Götz von Berlichingen: “Geht! Geht!” says
    Adelheid to Weislingen, “Erzählt das Mädchen die den Teurdanck
    lesen, und sich so einen Mann wünschen.”--“Go! Go! Tell that to a
    girl who reads Sir Theurdank, and wishes that she may have such a
    husband.” In Sir Walter Scott’s faulty translation of this
    play--under the name of _William_ Scott, 1799,--the passage is
    rendered as follows: “Go! Go! Talk of that to some forsaken damsel
    whose Corydon has proved forsworn.” In another passage where
    Goethe makes Adelheid allude to the popular “Märchen,” or tale, of
    Number-Nip, the point is completely lost in the translation:
    “Entbinden nicht unsre Gesetze solchen Schwüren?--Macht das
    Kindern weiss die den Rübezahl glauben.” Literally, “Do not our
    laws release you from such oaths?--Tell that to children who
    believe Number-Nip.” In Sir Walter Scott’s translation the passage
    is thus most incorrectly rendered: “Such agreement is no more
    binding than an unjust extorted oath. Every child knows what faith
    is to be kept with robbers.” The name _Rübezahl_ is literally
    translated by _Number-Neep_; Rübe is the German name for a
    turnip,--Scoticè, a neep. The story is as well known in Germany as
    that of Jack the Giant-Killer in England.]

    [Footnote V-63: Charaktere Teutscher Dichter und Prosaisten,
    S. 71. Berlin, 1781.]

    [Footnote V-64:

      Nec sic incipies, ut scriptor cyclicus olim:
      “Fortunam Priami cantabo, et nobile bellum:”
      Quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu?
      Parturiunt montes; nascetur ridiculus mus.
              Ars Poetica, v. 136-139.

    In a Greek epigram the Cyclic poets are thus noticed:

      Τοὺς κυκλίους τούτους τοὺς αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα λέγοντας
      Μισῶ λωποδύτας ἀλλοτρίων ἐπέων.]

The first edition of Sir Theurdank was printed by Hans Schönsperger the
elder, at Nuremberg in 1517; and in 1519 two editions appeared at
Augsburg from the press of the same printer. As Schönsperger’s
established printing-office was at the latter city and not at Nuremberg,
Panzer has supposed that the imprint of Nuremberg in the first edition
might have been introduced as a compliment to the nominal author,
Melchior Pfintzing, who then resided in that city. Two or three other
editions of Sir Theurdank, with the same cuts, appeared between 1519 and
1602; but Küttner, in his Characters of German poets and prose-writers,
says that in all those editions alterations have been made in the text.

The character in which Sir Theurdank is printed is of great beauty and
much ornamented with flourishes. Several writers, and among others
Fournier, who was a type-founder and wood-engraver, have erroneously
described the text as having been engraved on blocks of wood. This very
superficial and incorrect writer also states that the cuts contained in
the volume are “chefs-d’œuvres de la gravure en bois.”[V-65] His opinion
with respect to the cuts is about as correct as his judgment respecting
the type; the most of them are in fact very ordinary productions, and
are neither remarkable for execution nor design. He also informs his
readers that he has discovered on some of those cuts an H and an S,
accompanied with a little shovel, and that they are the monogram of
_Hans Sebalde_, or Hans Schäufflein. By _Hans Sebalde_ he perhaps means
Hans Sebald Behaim, an artist born at Nuremberg in 1500, and who never
used the letters H and S, accompanied with a little shovel, as a
monogram. Fournier did not know that this mark is used exclusively by
Hans Schäufflein; and that the little shovel, or baker’s peel,--called
in old German, Schäufflein, or Scheuffleine,--is a rebus of his surname.
The careful examination of writers more deserving of credit has
completely proved that the text of the three earliest editions--those
only in which it was asserted to be from engraved wood-blocks--is
printed from moveable types of metal. Breitkopf[V-66] has observed, that
in the edition of 1517 the letter i, in the word _shickhet_, in the
second line following the eighty-fourth cut, is inverted; and Panzer and
Brunner have noticed several variations in the orthography of the second
and third editions when compared with the first.

    [Footnote V-65: Dissertation sur l’Origine et les Progres de l’Art
    de Graver en Bois, p. 74. Paris, 1758.]

    [Footnote V-66: The kind of character in which the text of Sir
    Theurdank is printed is called “Fractur” by German printers. “The
    first work,” says Breitkopf, “which afforded an example of a
    perfectly-shaped _Fractur_ for printing, was unquestionably the
    Theurdank, printed at Nuremberg, 1517.”--Ueber Bibliographie und
    Bibliophile, S. 8. 1793.--Neudörffer, a contemporary, who lived at
    Nuremberg at the time when Sir Theurdank was first published, says
    that the specimens for the types were written by Vincent Rockner,
    the emperor’s court-secretary.--Von Murr, Journal, 2er Theil,
    S. 159; and Lichtenberger, Initia Typographica, p. 194.]

There are a hundred and eighteen wood-cuts in the Adventures of Sir
Theurdank, which are all supposed to have been designed, if not
engraved, by Hans Schäufflein, though his mark, [Symbol], occurs on not
more than five or six. From the general similarity of style I have,
however, no doubt that the designs were all made by the same person, and
I think it more likely that Schaufflein was the designer than the
engraver. The cut on page 284 is a reduced copy of that numbered 14 in
the first edition. The original is six inches and one-fourth high by
five inches and a half wide. In this cut, Sir Theurdank is seen, in the
dress of a hunter, encountering a huge bear; while to the right is
perceived one of his tempters, _Fürwittig_--restless Curiosity,--and to
the left, on horseback, Theurdank’s squire, Ernhold. The title of the
chapter, or fytte, to which this cut is prefixed is to the following
effect: “How Fürwittig led Sir Theurdank into a perilous encounter with
a she-bear.” The subject of the thirteenth chapter is his perilous
encounter with a stag, and in the fifteenth we are entertained with the
narration of one of his adventures when hunting the chamois.


The opposite cut is a reduced copy of No. 111 in the Adventures of Sir
Theurdank. The title of the chapter to which this cut is prefixed is:
“How Unfalo [one of Theurdank’s tempters] was hung.” A monk at the foot
of the gallows appears to pray for the culprit just turned off; while
Ernold seems to be explaining to a group of spectators to the left the
reason of the execution. The cut illustrative of the 110th chapter
represents the beheading of “Fürwittig;” and in the 112th, “Neydelhart,”
the basest of Theurdank’s enemies, is seen receiving the reward of his
perfidy by being thrown into a moat. The two original cuts which have
been selected as specimens of the wood engravings in the Adventures of
Sir Theurdank, though not the best, are perhaps, in point of design and
execution, rather superior to two-thirds of those contained in the work.
The copies, though less in size, afford a tolerably correct idea of the
style of the originals, which no one who is acquainted with the best
wood-cuts engraved after the designs of Durer and Burgmair will assert
to be “chefs-d’œuvres” of the art of wood engraving.


There are a number of wood-cuts which contain Hans Schäufflein’s mark,
though somewhat different from that which occurs in the Adventures of
Sir Theurdank; the S being linked with one of the upright lines of the
H, instead of being placed between them. When the letters are combined
in this manner, there are frequently two little shovels crossed, “in
saltire,” as a herald would say, instead of a single one as in Sir
Theurdank. The following mark, [Symbol], occurs on a series of wood-cuts
illustrative of Christ’s Passion, printed at Frankfort by C. Egenolf,
1542; on the cuts in a German almanack, Mentz, 1545, and 1547; and on
several single subjects executed about that period. This mark, it is
said, distinguishes the designs of Hans Schaufflein the younger.
Bartsch, however, observes, that “what Strutt has said about there being
two persons of this name, an elder and a younger, seems to be a mere

The book entitled Der Weiss Kunig--the Wise King--is another of the
works projected by the Emperor Maximilian in order to inform the world
of sundry matters concerning his father Frederick III, his own
education, warlike and perilous deeds, government, wooing, and wedding.
This work is in prose; and though Marx Treitzsaurwein, the emperor’s
secretary, is put forth as the author, there is little doubt of its
having been chiefly composed by Maximilian himself. About 1512 it
appears that the materials for this work were prepared by the emperor,
and that about 1514 they were entrusted to his secretary,
Treitzsaurwein, to be put in order. It would appear that before the work
was ready for the press Maximilian had died; and Charles V. was too much
occupied with other matters to pay much attention to the publication of
an enigmatical work, whose chief object was to celebrate the
accomplishments, knowledge, and adventures of his grandfather. The
obscurity of many passages in the emperor’s manuscript seems to have, in
a great measure, retarded the completion of the work. There is now in
the Imperial Library at Vienna a manuscript volume of queries respecting
the doubtful passages in the Weiss Kunig; and as each had ultimately to
be referred to the emperor, it would seem that, from the pressure of
more important business and his increased age, he had wanted leisure and
spirits to give the necessary explanations. In the sixteenth century,
Richard Strein, an eminent philologer, began a sort of commentary or
exposition of the more difficult passages in the Wise King; and
subsequently his remarks came into the hands of George Christopher von
Schallenberg, who, in 1631, had the good fortune to obtain at Vienna
impressions of most of the cuts which were intended by the emperor to
illustrate the work, together with several of the original drawings.
Treitzsaurwein’s manuscript, which for many years had been preserved at
Ambras in the Tyrol, having been transferred to the Imperial Library at
Vienna, and the original blocks having been discovered in the Jesuits’
College at Gratz in Stiria, the text and cuts were printed together, for
the first time, in a folio volume, at Vienna in 1775.[V-67]

    [Footnote V-67: The title of the volume is “Der Weiss Kunig. Eine
    Erzehlung von den Thaten Kaiser Maximilian des Ersten. Von Marx
    Treitzsaurwein auf dessen Angeben zusammen getragen, nebst von
    Hannsen Burgmair dazu verfertigten Holzschnitten. Herausgeben aus
    dem Manuscripte der Kaiserl. Königl. Hofbibliothek. Wien, auf
    Kosten Joseph Kurzböckens, 1775.”]

It is probable that the greater part, if not all the cuts, were finished
previous to the emperor’s death; and impressions of them, very likely
taken shortly after the blocks were finished, were known to collectors
long before the publication of the book. The late Mr. Ottley had
seventy-seven of the series, apparently taken as proofs by means of a
press. The paper on which these cuts are impressed appears to have
consisted of fragments, on one side of which there had previously been
printed certain state papers of the Emperor Maximilian, dated 1514. They
were sold at the sale of the late Mr. Ottley’s engravings in 1838, and
are now in the Print Room of the British Museum. In the volume printed
at Vienna in 1775, there are two hundred and thirty-seven[V-68] large
cuts, of which number ninety-two contain Burgmair’s mark, H. B; one
contains Schaufflein’s mark; another the mark of Hans Springinklee; and
a third, a modern cut, is marked “F. F. S. V. 1775.” Besides the large
cuts, all of which are old except the last noticed, there are a few
worthless tail-pieces of modern execution, one of which, a nondescript
bird, has been copied by Bewick, and is to be found at page 144 of the
first edition of his Quadrupeds, 1790.

    [Footnote V-68: In the Imperial Library at Vienna there is a
    series of old impressions of cuts intended for “Der Weiss Kunig,”
    consisting of two hundred and fifty pieces; it would therefore
    appear, supposing this set to be perfect, that there are fourteen
    of the original blocks lost. Why a single modern cut has been
    admitted into the book, and thirteen of the old impressions not
    re-engraved, it perhaps would be difficult to give a satisfactory

The cuts in the Weiss Kunig, with respect to the style in which they are
designed, bear considerable resemblance to those in Sir Theurdank; and
from their execution it is evident that they have been cut by different
engravers; some of them being executed in a very superior manner, and
others affording proofs of their either being cut by a novice or a very
indifferent workman. It has been said that all those which contain the
mark of Hans Burgmair show a decided superiority in point of engraving;
but this assertion is not correct, for several of them may be classed
with the worst executed in the volume. The unequal manner in which the
cuts with Burgmair’s mark are executed is with me an additional reason
for believing that he only furnished the designs for professional wood
engravers to execute, and never engraved on wood himself.

It seems unnecessary to give any specimens of the cuts in the Weiss
Kunig, as an idea of their style may be formed from those given at pages
284 and 285 from Sir Theurdank; and as other specimens of Burgmair’s
talents as a designer on wood will be given subsequently from the
Triumphs of Maximilian. The following abstract of the titles of a few of
the chapters may perhaps afford some idea of the work, while they prove
that the education of the emperor embraced a wide circle, forming almost
a perfect Cyclopædia. The first fifteen chapters give an account of the
marriage of the Old Wise King, Frederick III, the father of Maximilian,
with Elenora, daughter of Alphonso V, King of Portugal; his journey to
Rome and his coronation there by the pope; with the birth, and
christening of Maximilian, the Young Wise King. About thirty-five
chapters, from XV. to L., are chiefly occupied with an account of
Maximilian’s education. After learning to write, he is instructed in the
liberal arts; and after some time devoted to “Politik,” or King-craft,
he proceeds to the study of the _black-art_, a branch of knowledge which
the emperor subsequently held to be vain and ungodly. He then commences
the study of history, devotes some attention to medicine and law, and
learns the Italian and Bohemian languages. He then learns to paint;
studies the principles of architecture, and tries his hand at carpentry.
He next takes lessons in music; and about the same time acquires a
practical knowledge of the art of cookery:--the Wise King, we are
informed, was a person of nice taste in kitchen affairs, and had a
proper relish for savoury and well-cooked viands. To the accomplishment
of dancing he adds a knowledge of numismatics; and, after making himself
acquainted with the mode of working mines, he learns to shoot with the
hand-gun and the cross-bow. The chase, falconry, angling, and fowling
next occupy his attention; and about the same time he learns to fence,
to tilt, and to manage the great horse. His course of education appears
to have been wound up with practical lessons in the art of making
armour, in gunnery, and in fortification. From the fiftieth chapter to
the conclusion, the book is chiefly filled with accounts of the wars and
adventures of Maximilian, which are for the most part allegorically
detailed, and require the reader to be well versed in the true history
of the emperor to be able to unriddle them. Küttner says that,
notwithstanding its allegories and enigmatical allusions, the Weiss
Kunig is a work which displays much mind in the conception and
execution, and considerable force and elegance of language; and that it
chiefly wants a more orderly arrangement of the events. “Throughout the
whole,” he adds, “there are evidences of a searching genius, improved by
science and a knowledge of the affairs of the world.”[V-69]

    [Footnote V-69: Charaktere Teutscher Dichter und Prosaisten,
    S. 70.]

The series of wood-cuts called the Triumphs of Maximilian are, both with
respect to design and engraving, the best of all the works thus executed
by command of the emperor to convey to posterity a pictorial
representation of the splendour of his court, his victories, and the
extent of his possessions. This work appears to have been commenced
about the same time as the Weiss Kunig; and from the subject,
a triumphal procession, it was probably intended to be the last of the
series of wood-cuts by which he was desirous of disseminating an opinion
of his power and his fame. Of those works he only lived to see one
published,--the Adventures of Sir Theurdank; the Wise King, the
Triumphal Car, the Triumphal Arch, and the Triumphal Procession, appear
to have been all unfinished at the time of his decease in 1519. The
total number of cuts contained in the latter work, published under the
title of the Triumphs of Maximilian, in 1796, is one hundred and
thirty-five; but had the series been finished according to the original
drawings, now preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna, the whole
number of the cuts would have been about two hundred and eighteen. Of
the hundred and thirty-five published there are about sixteen designed
in a style so different from the rest, that it is doubtful if they
belong to the same series; and this suspicion receives further
confirmation from the fact that the subjects of those sixteen doubtful
cuts are not to be found among the original designs. It would therefore
seem, that, unless some of the blocks have been lost or destroyed,
little more than one-half of the cuts intended for the Triumphal
Procession were finished when the emperor’s death put a stop to the
further progress of the work. It is almost certain, that none of the
cuts were engraved after the emperor’s death; for the date, commencing
with 1516, is written at the back of several of the original blocks, and
on no one is it later than 1519.

The plan of the Triumphal Procession,--consisting of a description of
the characters to be introduced, the order in which they are to follow
each other, their arms, dress, and appointments,--appears to have been
dictated by the emperor to his secretary Treitzsaurwein, the nominal
author of the Weiss Kunig, in 1512. In this manuscript the subjects for
the rhyming inscriptions intended for the different banners and tablets
are also noted in prose. Another manuscript, in the handwriting of
Treitzsaurwein, and interlined by the emperor himself, contains the
inscriptions for the banners and tablets in verse; and a third
manuscript, written after the drawings were finished, contains a
description of the subjects,--though not so much in detail as the first,
and in some particulars slightly differing,--with all the inscriptions
in verse except eight. From those manuscripts, which are preserved in
the Imperial Library at Vienna, the descriptions in the edition of 1796
have been transcribed. Most of the descriptions and verses were
previously given by Von Murr, in 1775, in the ninth volume of his
Journal. The edition of the Triumphal Procession published in 1796 also
contains a French translation of the descriptions, with numbers
referring to those printed at the right-hand corner of the cuts. The
numbers, however, of the description and the cut in very many instances
do not agree; and it would almost seem, from the manner in which the
text is printed, that the publishers did not wish to facilitate a
comparison between the description and the cut which they have numbered
as corresponding with it. The gross negligence of the publishers, or
their editor, in this respect materially detracts from the interest of
the work. To compare the descriptions with the cuts is not only a work
of some trouble, but it is also labour thrown away. Von Murr’s volume,
from its convenient size, is of much greater use in comparing the cuts
with the description than the text printed in the edition of 1796; and
though it contains no numbers for reference,--as no complete collection
of the cuts had then been printed,--it contains no misdirections: and it
is better to have no guide-posts than such as only lead the traveller

The original drawings for the Triumphal Procession,--or as the work is
usually called, the Triumphs of Maximilian,--are preserved in the
Imperial Library at Vienna. They are painted in water colours, on a
hundred and nine sheets of vellum, each thirty-four inches long by
twenty inches high, and containing two of the engraved subjects. Dr.
Dibdin, who saw the drawings in 1818, says that they are rather gaudily
executed, and that he prefers the engravings to the original
paintings.[V-70] Whether those paintings are the work of Hans Burgmair,
or not, appears to be uncertain. From the following extract from the
preface to the Triumphs of Maximilian, published in 1796, it is evident
that the writer did not think that the original drawings were executed
by that artist. “The engravings of this Triumph, far from being servile
copies of the paintings in miniature, differ from them entirely, so far
as regards the manner in which they are designed. Most all the groups
have a different form, and almost every figure a different attitude;
_consequently Hans Burgmair appears in his work in the character of
author [original designer], and so much the more, as he has in many
points surpassed his model_. But whatever may be the difference between
the engravings and the drawings on vellum, the subjects still so far
correspond that they may be recognised without the least difficulty. It
is, however, necessary to except eighteen of the engravings, in which
this correspondence would be sought for in vain. Those engravings are,
the twelve from No. 89 to 100, and the six from 130 to 135.” As the cuts
appear to have been intentionally wrong numbered, it is not easy to
determine from this reference which are actually the first twelve
alluded to, for in most of the copies which I have seen, the numerals
91, 92, and 93 occur twice,--though the subjects of the cuts are
different. In the copy now before me, I have to observe that there are
_sixteen_[V-71] cuts designed in a style so different from those which
contain Burgmair’s mark, that I am convinced they have not been drawn by
that artist. Without enquiring whether the subjects are to be found in
the paintings or not, I am satisfied that a considerable number of the
engravings, besides those sixteen, were not drawn on the wood by Hans
Burgmair. Both Breitkopf and Von Murr[V-72] have asserted that the
drawings for the Triumphs of Maximilian were made by Albert Durer, but
they do not say whether they mean the drawings on vellum, or the
drawings on the blocks. This assertion is, however, made without any
authority; and, whether they meant the drawings on vellum or the
drawings on the block, it is unquestionably incorrect. The drawings on
vellum are not by Durer, and of the whole hundred and thirty-five cuts
there are not more than five or six that can be supposed with any degree
of probability to have been of his designing.

    [Footnote V-70: Bibliographical Tour, vol iii. p. 330.]

    [Footnote V-71: The subjects of those sixteen cuts are chiefly the
    statues of the emperor’s ancestors, with representations of
    himself, and of his family alliances. Several of the carriages are
    propelled by mechanical contrivances, which for laborious
    ingenuity may vie with the machine for uncorking bottles in one of
    the subjects of Hogarth’s Marriage à la Mode. In the copy before
    me those engravings are numbered 89, 90, 91, 91, 92, 92, 93, 93,
    94, 95, 96, 97, 99, 101, 102, 103.]

    [Footnote V-72: Breitkopf, Ueber Bibliographie und Bibliophile,
    S. 4. Leipzig, 1793. Von Murr, Journal, 9er Theil, S. 1. At page
    255 I have said: “Though I have not been able to ascertain
    satisfactorily the subject of Durer’s painting in the Town-hall of
    Nuremberg, I am inclined to think that it is the Triumphal _Car_
    of Maximilian.” Since the sheet containing the above passage was
    printed off I have ascertained that the subject _is_ the Triumphal
    Car; and that it is described in Von Murr’s Nürnbergischen
    Merkwürdigkeiten, S. 395.]

Forty of the blocks from which the Triumphs of Maximilian are printed
were obtained from Ambras in the Tyrol, where they had probably been
preserved since the time of the emperor’s death; and the other
ninety-five were discovered in the Jesuits’ College at Gratz in Stiria.
The whole were brought to Vienna and deposited in the Imperial Library
in 1779. A few proofs had probably been taken when the blocks were
engraved; there are ninety of those old impressions in the Imperial
Library; Monsieur Mariette had ninety-seven; and Sandrart had seen a
hundred. The latter, in speaking of those impressions, expresses a
suspicion of the original blocks having been destroyed in a fire at
Augsburg; their subsequent discovery, however, at Ambras and Gratz,
shows that his suspicion was not well founded. On the discovery of those
blocks it was supposed that the remainder of the series, as described in
the manuscript, might also be still in existence; but after a diligent
search no more have been found. It is indeed highly probable that the
further progress of the work had been interrupted by Maximilian’s death,
and that if any more of the series were finished, the number must have
been few. About 1775, a few impressions were taken from the blocks
preserved at Ambras, and also from those at Gratz; but no collection of
the whole accompanied with text was ever printed until 1796, when an
edition in large folio was printed at Vienna by permission of the
Austrian government, and with the name of J. Edwards, then a bookseller
in Pall-Mall, on the title-page, as the London publisher. It is much to
be regretted that greater pains were not taken to afford the reader
every information that could be obtained with respect to the cuts; and
it says very little for the English publisher’s patriotism that the
translation of the original German descriptions should be in
French;--but perhaps there might be a reason for this, for, where no
precise meaning is to be conveyed, French is certainly much better than
English. From the fact of several of the subjects not being contained in
the original drawings, and from the great difference in the style of
many of the cuts, it is by no means certain that they were all intended
for the same work. There can, however, be little doubt of their all
having been designed for a triumphal procession intended to celebrate
the fame of Maximilian.

The original blocks, now preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna,
are all of pear-tree, and several of them are partially worm-eaten. At
the back of those blocks are written or engraved seventeen names and
initials, which are supposed, with great probability, to be those of
the engravers by whom they were executed. At the back of No. 18, which
represents five musicians in a car, there is written, “Der kert an
die Elland,--hat _Wilhelm geschnitten_:” that is, “This follows the
Elks.--Engraved by William.” In the preceding cut, No. 17, are
the two elks which draw the car, and on one of the traces is Hans
Burgmair’s mark. At the back of No. 20 is written, “_Jobst putavit,
14 Aprilis 1517. Die gehert an die bifel, und die bifel halt Jos
geschnitten._”[V-73] This inscription Mr. Ottley, at page 756, volume
ii. of his Inquiry, expounds as follows: “Josse putavit (perhaps for
_punctavit_), the 14th of April, 1517. This block joins to that which
represents the Buffaloes.” This translation is substantially correct;
but it is exceedingly doubtful if _putavit_ was written in mistake for
_punctavit_. The proposed substitution indeed seems very like explaining
an _ignotum per ignotius_. The verb _punctare_ is never, that I am aware
of, used by any writer, either classical or modern, to express the idea
of engraving on wood. A German, however, who was but imperfectly
acquainted with Latin, would not be unlikely to translate the German
verb _schneiden_, which signifies _to cut_ generally, by the Latin
_putare_, which is specially applied to the lopping or pruning of trees.
I have heard it conjectured that _putavit_ might have been used in the
sense of _imaginavit_, as if Jobst were the designer; but there can be
little doubt of its being here intended to express the cutting of the
wood-engraver; for Burgmair’s mark is to be found both on this cut and
on the preceding one of the two buffaloes, No. 19; and it cannot for a
moment be supposed that he was a mere workman employed to execute the
designs of another person. Were such a supposition granted, it would
follow that the wood-engraver of that period--at least so far as regards
the work in question--was considered as a much superior person to
him who drew the designs; that the _workman_, in fact, was to be
commemorated, but the _artist_ forgotten; a conclusion which is
diametrically opposed to fact, for so little were the mere
wood-engravers of that period esteemed, that we only incidentally become
acquainted with their names; and from their not putting their marks or
initials to the cuts which they engraved has arisen the popular error
that Durer, Cranach, Burgmair, and others, who are known to have been
painters of great repute in their day, were wood-engravers and executed
themselves the wood-cuts which bear their marks.

    [Footnote V-73: _Jobst_ and _Jos_, in this inscription, are
    probably intended for the name of the same person. For the name
    Jobst, Jost, Josse, or Jos--for it is thus variously spelled--we
    have no equivalent in English. It is not unusual in Germany as a
    baptismal name--it can scarcely be called _Christian_--and is
    Latinized, I believe, under the more lengthy form of _Jodocus_.]

The following are the names and initial letters at the back of the
blocks. 1. Jerome André, called also Jerome Resch, or Rösch, the
engraver of the Triumphal Arch designed by Albert Durer. 2. Jan de Bonn.
3. Cornelius. 4. Hans Frank. 5. Saint German. 6. Wilhelm. 7. Corneille
Liefrink. 8. Wilhelm Liefrink. 9. Alexis Lindt. 10. Josse de Negker. On
several of the blocks Negker is styled, “engraver on wood, at Augsburg.”
11. Vincent Pfarkecher. 12. Jaques Rupp. 13. Hans Schaufflein. 14. Jan
Taberith. 15. F. P. 16. H. F. 17. W. R. It is not unlikely that
“Cornelius,” No. 3, may be the same as Corneille Liefrink, No. 7; and
that “Wilhelm,” No. 6, and Wilhelm Liefrink, No. 8, may also be the same
person. At the back of the block which corresponds with the description
numbered 120, Hans Schaufflein’s name is found coupled with that of
Cornelius Liefrink; and at the back of the cut which corresponds with
the description numbered 121 Schaufflein’s name occurs alone.[V-74] The
occurrence of Schaufflein’s name at the back of the cuts would certainly
seem to indicate that he was one of the engravers; but his name also
appearing at the back of that described under No. 120, in conjunction
with the name of Cornelius Liefrink, who was certainly a
wood-engraver,[V-75] makes me inclined to suppose that he might only
have made the drawing on the block and not have engraved the cut; and
this supposition seems to be partly confirmed by the fact that the cuts
which are numbered 104, 105, and 106, corresponding with the
descriptions Nos. 119, 120, and 121, have not Hans Burgmair’s mark, and
are much more like the undoubted designs of Hans Schaufflein than those
of that artist. That the cuts published under the title of the Triumphs
of Maximilian were not all drawn on the block by the same person will,
I think, appear probable to any one who even cursorily examines them;
and whoever carefully compares them can scarcely have a doubt on the

    [Footnote V-74: The printed numbers on those two cuts are 105 and
    106, though the descriptions are numbered 120 and 121 in the text.
    The subjects are, No. 105, two ranks, of five men each, on foot,
    carrying long lances; and No. 106, two ranks, of five men each, on
    foot, carrying large two-handed swords on their
    shoulders.--Perhaps it may not be out of place to correct here the
    following passage which occurs at page 285 of this volume:
    “Bartsch, however, observes, that ‘what Strutt has said about
    there being two persons of this name [Hans Schaufflein], an elder
    and a younger, seems to be a mere conjecture.’” Since the sheet
    containing this passage was printed off, I have learnt from a
    paper, in Meusel’s Neue Miscellaneen, 5tes. Stück, S. 210, that
    Hans Schäufflein had a son of the same name who was also a
    painter, and that the elder Schäufflein died at Nordlingen, in
    1539. At page 281, his death, on the authority of Bartsch, is
    erroneously placed in 1550.]

    [Footnote V-75: The name of Cornelius Liefrink occurs at the back
    of some of the wood-cuts representing the saints of the family of
    Maximilian, designed by Burgmair, mentioned at page 278, note.]

  [Illustration: From No. 15. With Burgmair’s mark.]

  [Illustration: From No. 65. Apparently not drawn by Burgmair.]

Almost every one of the cuts that contains Burgmair’s mark, in the
Triumphal Procession, is designed with great spirit, and has evidently
been drawn by an artist who had a thorough command of his pencil. His
horses are generally strong and heavy, and the men on their backs of a
stout and muscular form. The action of the horses seems natural; and the
indications of the joints and the drawing of the hoofs--which are mostly
low and broad--evidently show that the artist had paid some attention to
the structure of the animal. There are, however, a considerable number
of cuts where both men and horses appear remarkable for their leanness;
and in which the hoofs of the horses are most incorrectly drawn, and the
action of the animals represented in a manner which is by no means
natural. Though it is not unlikely that Hans Burgmair was capable of
drawing both a stout, heavy horse, and a long-backed, thin-quartered,
lean one, I cannot persuade myself that he would, in almost every
instance, draw the hoofs and legs of the one correctly, and those of the
other with great inaccuracy. The cut on the opposite page and the five
next following, of single figures, copied on a reduced scale from the
Triumphs, will exemplify the preceding observations. The numbers are
those printed on the cuts, and they all, except one, appear to
correspond with the French descriptions in the text. The preceding cut
is from that marked No. 15. The mark of Hans Burgmair is on the
ornamental breast-plate, as an English saddler would call it, that
passes across the horse’s chest. This figure, in the original cut,
carries a tablet suspended from a staff, of which the lower part only is
perceived in the copy, as it has not been thought necessary to give the
tablet and a large scroll which were intended to contain
inscriptions.[V-76] The description of the subject is to the following
effect: “After the chase, comes a figure on horseback, bearing a tablet,
on which shall be written the five charges of the court,--that is, of
the butler, the cook, the barber, the tailor, and the shoemaker; and
Eberbach shall be the under-marshal of the household, and carry the

    [Footnote V-76: In all the blocks, the tablets and scrolls, and
    the upper part of banners intended to receive verses and
    inscriptions, were left unengraved. In order that the appearance
    of the cuts might not be injured, the black ground, intended for
    the letters, was cut away in most of the tablets and scrolls, in
    the edition of 1796.]

The cut on page 295 is a reduced copy of a figure, the last, in No. 65,
which is without Burgmair’s mark. In the original the horseman bears a
banner, having on it the arms of the state or city which he represents;
and at the top of the banner a black space whereon a name or motto ought
to have been engraved. The original cut contains three figures; and, if
the description can be relied on, the banners which they bear are those
of Fribourg, Bregentz, and Saulgau. The other two horsemen and their
steeds in No. 65 are still more unlike those in the cuts which contain
Burgmair’s mark.

  [Illustration: From No. 33. With Burgmair’s mark.]

The above cut is a reduced copy of a figure on horseback in No. 33.
Burgmair’s mark, an H and a B, may be perceived on the trappings of the
horse. This figure, in the original, bears a large tablet, and he is
followed by five men on foot carrying flails, the _swingels_[V-77] of
which are of leather. The description of the cut,--which forms the first
of seven representing the dresses and arms of combatants on foot,--is as
follows: “Then shall come a person mounted and properly habited like a
master of arms, and he shall carry the tablet containing the rhyme.
Item, Hans Hollywars shall be the master of arms, and his rhyme shall be
this effect: that he has professed the noble practice of arms at the
court, according to the method devised by the emperor.”[V-78]

    [Footnote V-77: That part of the flail which comes in contact with
    the corn is, in the North of England, termed a _swingel_.]

    [Footnote V-78: The substance of almost every rhyme and
    inscription is, that the person who bears the rhyme-tablet or
    scroll has derived great improvement in his art or profession from
    the instructions or suggestions of the emperor. Huntsmen,
    falconers, trumpeters, organists, fencing-masters, ballet-masters,
    tourniers, and jousters, all acknowledge their obligations in this
    respect to Maximilian. For the wit and humour of the jesters and
    the natural fools, the emperor, with great forbearance, takes to
    himself no credit; and Anthony von Dornstett, the leader of the
    drummers and fifers, is one of the few whose art he has not

The following is a reduced copy of a figure in the cut erroneously
numbered 83, but which corresponds with the description that refers to
84. This figure is the last of the three, who, in the original, are
represented bearing banners containing the arms of Malines, Salins and

  [Illustration: From No. 83. Apparently not drawn by Burgmair.]

  [Illustration: From No. 27. With Burgmair’s mark.]

The following figure, who is given with his rhyme-tablet in full, is
copied from the cut numbered 27. This jovial-looking personage, as we
learn from the description, is the Will Somers of Maximilian’s court,
and he figures as the leader of the professed jesters and the natural
fools, who appear in all ages to have been the subjects of “pleasant
mirth.” The instructions to the painter are as follows: “Then shall come
one on horseback habited like a jester, and carrying a rhyme-tablet for
the jesters and natural fools; and he shall be Conrad von der Rosen.”
The fool’s cap with the bell at the peak, denoting his profession, is
perceived hanging on his left shoulder; and on the breast-plate,
crossing the chest of the horse, is Burgmair’s mark.

  [Illustration: No. 74. Apparently not drawn by Burgmair.]

The figure on page 299 of a horseman, bearing the banner of Burgundy, is
from the cut numbered 74. The drawing both of rider and horse is
extremely unlike the style of Burgmair as displayed in those cuts which
contain his mark. Burgmair’s men are generally stout, and their
attitudes free; and they all appear to sit well on horseback. The
present lean, lanky figure, who rides a horse that seems admirably
suited to him, cannot have been designed by Burgmair, unless he was
accustomed to design in two styles which were the very opposites of each
other; the one distinguished by the freedom and the boldness of the
drawing, the stoutness of the men, and the bulky form of the horses
introduced; and the other remarkable for laboured and stiff drawing,
gaunt and meagre men, and leggy, starved-like cattle. The whole of the
cuts from No. 57 to No. 88, inclusive,--representing, except
three,[V-79] men on horseback bearing the banners of the kingdoms and
states either possessed or claimed by the emperor,--are designed in the
latter style. Not only are the men and horses represented according to a
different standard, but even the very ground is indicated in a different
manner; it seems to abound in fragments of stones almost like a
Macadamized road after a shower of rain. There is indeed no lack of
stones on Burgmair’s ground, but they appear more like rounded pebbles,
and are not scattered about with so liberal a hand as in the cuts
alluded to. In not one of those cuts which are so unlike Burgmair’s is
the mark of that artist to be found; and their general appearance is so
unlike that of the cuts undoubtedly designed by him, that any person in
the least acquainted with works of art will, even on a cursory
examination, perceive the strongly marked difference.

    [Footnote V-79: Those three are the numbers 77, 78, 79,
    representing musicians on horseback. The same person who drew the
    standard-bearers has evidently drawn those three cuts also.]

The following cut is a reduced copy of that numbered 57; and which is
the first of those representing horsemen bearing the banners of the
several kingdoms, states, and cities subject to the house of Austria or
to which Maximilian laid claim. It is one of the most gorgeous of the
series; but, from the manner in which the horses and their riders are
represented, I feel convinced that it has not been drawn by Burgmair.
The subject is thus described in the emperor’s directions prefixed to
the volume: “One on horseback bearing the banner of the arms of Austria;
another on horseback bearing the old Austrian arms; another also on
horseback bearing the arms of Stiria.” On the parts which are left black
in the banners it had been intended to insert inscriptions. The
instructions to the painter for this part of the procession are to the
following effect: “One on horseback bearing on a lance a rhyme-tablet.
Then the arms of the hereditary dominions of the house of Austria on
banners, with their shields, helms, and crests, borne by horsemen; and
the banners of those countries in which the emperor has carried on war
shall be borne by riders in armour; and the painter shall vary the
armour according to the old manner. The banners of those countries in
which the emperor has not carried on war shall be borne by horsemen
without armour, but all splendidly clothed, each according to the
costume of the country he represents. Every one shall wear a laurel

  [Illustration: No. 57. Apparently not drawn by Burgmair.]

The cut on the next page is copied from that numbered 107, but which
accords with the description of No. 122. The subject is described by the
emperor as follows: “Then shall come riding a man of Calicut, naked,
except his loins covered with a girdle, bearing a rhyme-tablet, on which
shall be inscribed these words, ‘These people are the subjects of the
famous crowns and houses heretofore named.’” In this cut the mark of
Burgmair is perceived on the harness on the breast of the elephant.
There are two other cuts of Indians belonging to the same part of the
procession, each of which also contains Burgmair’s mark.

  [Illustration: No. 107. With Burgmair’s mark.]

The cuts which were to follow the Indians and close the procession were
the baggage-waggons and camp-followers of the army. Of those there are
five cuts in the work published in 1796, and it is evident that some are
wanting, for the two which may be considered as the first and last of
those five, respectively require a preceding and a following cut to
render them complete; and there are also one or two cuts wanting to
complete the intermediate subjects. Those cuts are referred to in the
French description under Nos. 125 to 129, but they are numbered 129,
128, 110, 111, 125. The last three, as parts of a large subject, follow
each other as the numbers are here placed; and though the right side of
No. 110 accords with the left of No. 128, inasmuch as they each contain
the half of a tree which appears complete when they are joined together,
yet there are no horses in No. 128 to draw the waggon which is seen in
No. 110. The order of Nos. 110, 111, and 125, is easily ascertained;
a horse at the left of No. 110 wants a tail which is to be found in
No. 111; and the outline of a mountain in the left of No. 111 is
continued in the right of No. 125. From the back-grounds, trees, and
figures in those cuts I am very much inclined to think that they have
been engraved from designs by Albert Durer, if he did not actually draw
them on the block himself. There is no mark to be found on any of them;
and they are extremely unlike any cuts which are undoubtedly of
Burgmair’s designing, and they are decidedly superior to any that are
usually ascribed to Hans Schaufflein. The following, which is a reduced
copy of that numbered 110, will perhaps afford some idea of those cuts,
and enable persons who are acquainted with Durer’s works to judge for
themselves with respect to the probability of their having been engraved
from his designs. One or two of the other four contain still more
striking resemblances of Durer’s style.

  [Illustration: No. 110. Probably drawn by Albert Durer.]

Besides the twelve cuts which, in the French preface to the Triumphal
Procession of Maximilian, are said not to correspond with the original
drawings, there are also six others which the editor says are not to be
found in the original designs, and which he considers to have been
additions made to the work while it was in the course of engraving.
Those six cuts are described in an appendix, where their numbers are
said to be from 130 to 135. In No. 130 the principal figures are a king
and queen, on horseback, supposed to be intended for Philip the Fair,
son of the Emperor Maximilian, and his wife Joanna of Castile. This cut
is very indifferently executed, and has evidently been designed by the
artist who made the drawings for the questionable cuts containing the
complicated locomotive carriages, mentioned at page 290. No. 131,
a princess on horseback, accompanied by two female attendants also on
horseback, and guards on foot, has evidently been designed by the same
artist as No. 130. These two, I am inclined to think, belong to some
other work. Nos. 132, 133, and 134, are from the designs of Hans
Burgmair, whose mark is to be found on each; and there can be little
doubt of their having been intended for Maximilian’s Triumphal
Procession. They form one continuous subject, which represents twelve
men, habited in various costume, leading the same number of horses
splendidly caparisoned. A figure on horseback bearing a rhyme-tablet
leads this part of the procession; and above the horses are large
scrolls probably intended to contain their names, with those of the
countries to which they belong. The cut on the opposite page is a
reduced copy of the last, numbered 135, which is thus described in the
appendix: “The fore part of a triumphal car, drawn by four horses yoked
abreast, and managed by a winged female figure who holds in her left
hand a wreath of laurel.” There is no mark on the original cut; but from
the manner in which the horses are drawn it seems like one of Burgmair’s

That the cuts of the Triumphal Procession of Maximilian were engraved by
different persons is certain from the names at their backs; and I think
the difference that is to be perceived in the style of drawing renders
it in the highest degree probable that the subjects were designed, or at
least drawn on the wood, by different artists. I am inclined to think
that Burgmair drew very few besides those that contain his mark; the
cuts of the banner-bearers I am persuaded are not of his drawing;
a third artist, of inferior talent, seems to have made the drawings of
the fanciful cars containing the emperor and his family; and the five
cuts of the baggage-waggons and camp followers, appear, as I have
already said, extremely like the designs of Albert Durer. The best
engraved cuts are to be found among those which contain Burgmair’s mark.
Some of the banner-bearers are also very ably executed, though not in so
free or bold a manner; which I conceive to be owing to the more laboured
style in which the subject has been drawn on the block. The mechanical
subjects, with their accompanying figures, are the worst engraved as
well as the worst drawn of the whole. The five cuts which I suppose to
have been designed by Albert Durer are engraved with great spirit, but
not so well as the best of those which contain the mark of Burgmair.

  [Illustration: No. 135. Apparently designed by Burgmair.]

Though there are still in existence upwards of a hundred of the original
blocks designed by Albert Durer, and upwards of three hundred designed
by the most eminent of his contemporaries, yet a person who professes to
be an instructor of the public on subjects of art made the following
statement before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Arts
and their Connexion with Manufactures, appointed in 1835. He is asked,
“Do you consider that the progress of the arts in this country is
impeded by the want of protection for new inventions of importance?” and
he proceeds to enlighten the committee as follows. “Very much impeded.
Inventions connected with the arts of design, of new instruments, or new
processes, for example, are, from the ease with which they can be
pirated, more difficult of protection than any other inventions
whatever. Such protection as the existing laws afford is quite
inadequate. I cannot better illustrate my meaning, than by mentioning
the case of _engraving in metallic relief_, an art which is supposed to
have existed three or four centuries ago; and the re-discovery of which
has long been a desideratum among artists. Albert Durer, who was both a
painter and engraver, _certainly possessed this art_, that is to say,
the art of transferring his designs, after they had been sketched on
paper, _immediately into metallic relief_, so that they might be printed
along with letter-press. At present, the only sort of engravings you can
print along with letter-press are wood engravings, or stereotype casts
from wood engravings; and then those engravings are but copies, and
often very rude copies, of their originals; while, in the case of Albert
Durer, it is QUITE CLEAR _that it was his own identical designs that
were transferred into the metallic relief_. Wood engravings, too, are
limited in point of size, _because they can only be executed on
box-wood_, the width of which is very small; in fact, we have no wood
engravings on a single block of a larger size than octavo: when the
engraving is larger, two or three blocks are joined together; but this
is attended with so much difficulty and inconvenience, that it is seldom
done. From the specimens of _metallic relief engraving_, left us by
Albert Durer, there is every reason to infer that he was under no such
limitation; that he could produce plates of any size.”[V-80] This
statement abounds in errors, and may justify a suspicion that the person
who made it had never seen the cuts designed by Albert Durer which he
pretends were executed in “metallic relief.” At the commencement he says
that the art of engraving in metallic relief is _supposed_ to have
existed three or four centuries ago; and immediately afterwards he
asserts that Albert Durer “certainly possessed this art;” as if by his
mere word he could convert a groundless fiction into a positive fact.
When he made this confident assertion he seems not to have been aware
that many of the original pear-tree blocks of the cuts pretendedly
executed in metallic relief are still in existence; and when, speaking
of the difficulty of getting blocks of a larger size than an octavo, he
says, “From the specimens of metallic relief engraving, left us by
Albert Durer, there is every reason to infer that he was under no such
limitation,--that he could produce plates of any size,” he affords a
positive proof that he knows nothing of the subject on which he has
spoken so confidently. Had he ever examined the large cuts engraved from
Durer’s designs, he would have seen, in several, undeniable marks of the
junction of the blocks, proving directly the reverse of what he asserts
on this point. What he says with respect to the modern practice of the
art is as incorrect as his assertions about Albert Durer’s engraving in
metallic relief. Though it is true that there are few modern engravings
on box-wood of a larger size than octavo, it is not true that the
forming of a large block of two or more pieces is attended with much
difficulty, and is seldom done. The making of such blocks is now a
regular trade; they are formed without the least difficulty, and
hundreds of cuts on such blocks are engraved in London every year.[V-81]
When he says that wood engravings “can only be made on box-wood,” he
gives another proof of his ignorance of the subject. Most of the earlier
wood engravings were executed on blocks of pear-tree or crab; and even
at the present time box-wood is seldom used for the large cuts on
posting-bills. In short, every statement that this person has made on
the subject of wood and pretended metallic relief engraving is
incorrect; and it is rather surprising that none of the members of the
committee should have exposed his ignorance. When such persons put
themselves forward as the instructors of mechanics on the subject of
art, it cannot be a matter of surprise that in the arts as applied to
manufactures we should be inferior to our continental neighbours.

    [Footnote V-80: Minutes of Evidence before the Select Committee on
    Arts and Manufactures, p. 130. Ordered to be printed, 16th August

    [Footnote V-81: Among the principal modern wood-cuts engraved on
    blocks consisting of several pieces the following may be
    mentioned: The Chillingham Bull, by Thomas Bewick, 1789; A view of
    St. Nicholas’ Church, Newcastle-on-Tyne, by Charlton Nesbit, from
    a drawing by R. Johnson, 1798; The Diploma of the Highland
    Society, by Luke Clennell, from a design by B. West, P.R.A. 1808;
    The Death of Dentatus, by William Harvey, from a painting by B. R.
    Haydon, 1821; and The Old Horse waiting for Death, left
    unfinished, by T. Bewick, and published in 1832.]

The art of imitating drawings--called chiaro-scuro--by means of
impressions from two or more blocks, was cultivated with great success
in Italy by Ugo da Carpi about 1518. The invention of this art, as has
been previously remarked, is ascribed to him by some writers, but
without any sufficient grounds; for not even the slightest evidence has
been produced by them to show that he, or any other Italian artist, had
executed a single cut in this manner previous to 1509, the date of a
chiaro-scuro wood engraving from a design by Lucas Cranach. Though it is
highly probable that Ugo da Carpi was not the inventor of this art, it
is certain that he greatly improved it. The chiaro-scuros executed by
him are not only superior to those of the German artists, who most
likely preceded him in this department of wood engraving, but to the
present time they remain unsurpassed. In the present day Mr. George
Baxter has attempted to extend the boundaries of this art by calling in
the aid of aquatint for his outlines and first ground, and by copying
the positive colours of an oil or water-colour painting. Most of Ugo da
Carpi’s chiaro-scuros are from Raffaele’s designs, and it is said that
the great painter himself drew some of the subjects on the blocks.
Independent of the excellence of the designs, the characteristics of Da
Carpi’s chiaro-scuros are their effect and the simplicity of their
execution; for all of them, except one or two, appear to have been
produced from not more than three blocks. The following may be mentioned
as the principal of Da Carpi’s works in this style. A Sibyl reading with
a boy holding a torch, from two blocks, said by Vasari to be the
artist’s first attempt in this style; Jacob’s Dream; David cutting off
the head of Goliah; the Death of Ananias; Giving the Keys to Peter; the
miraculous Draught of Fishes; the Descent from the Cross; the
Resurrection; and Æneas carrying away his father Anchises on his
shoulders from the fire of Troy;[V-82] all the preceding from the
designs of Raffaele. Among the subjects designed by other masters are
St. Peter preaching, after Polidoro; and Diogenes showing the plucked
cock in ridicule of Plato’s definition of man, “a two-legged animal
without feathers,” after Parmegiano. The latter, which is remarkably
bold and spirited, is from four blocks; and Vasari says that it is the
best of all Da Carpi’s chiaro-scuros. Many of Da Carpi’s productions in
this style were copied by Andrea Andreani of Milan, about 1580. That of
Æneas carrying his father on his shoulders was copied by Edward Kirkall,
an English engraver in 1722. Kirkall’s copy is not entirely from
wood-blocks, like the original; the outlines and the greater part of the
shadows are from a copper-plate engraved in mezzotint, in a manner
similar to that which has more recently been adopted by Mr. Baxter in
his picture-printing.

    [Footnote V-82: At the foot of this cut, to the right, after the
    name of the designer,--“RAPHAEL URBINAS,”--is the following
    privilege, granted by Pope Leo X. and the Doge of Venice,
    prohibiting all persons from pirating the work. “QUISQUE HAS
    PENAS INCURRET.” Below this inscription is the engraver’s name
    with the date: “Romæ apud Ugum de Carpi impressum. MDXVIII.”]

Lucas Dammetz, generally called Lucas van Leyden, from the place of his
birth, was an excellent engraver on copper, and in this branch of art
more nearly approached Durer than any other of his German or Flemish
contemporaries. He is said to have been born at Leyden in 1496; and, if
this date be correct, he at a very early age gave decided proofs of his
talents as an engraver on copper. One of his earliest prints, the monk
Sergius killed by Mahomet, is dated 1508, when he was only fourteen
years of age; and at the age of twelve he is said to have painted, in
distemper, a picture of St. Hubert which excited the admiration of all
the artists of the time. Of his numerous copper-plate engravings there
are no less than twenty-one which, though they contain no date, are
supposed to have been executed previously to 1508. As several of those
plates are of very considerable merit, it would appear that Lucas while
yet a boy excelled, as a copper-plate engraver, most of his German and
Dutch contemporaries. From 1508 to 1533, the year of his death, he
appears to have engraved not less than two hundred copper-plates; and,
as if these were not sufficient to occupy his time, he in the same
period painted several pictures, some of which were of large size. He is
also said to have excelled as a painter on glass; and like Durer,
Cranach, and Burgmair, he is ranked among the wood engravers of that

The wood-cuts which contain the mark of Lucas van Leyden, or which are
usually ascribed to him, are not numerous; and, even admitting them to
have been engraved by himself, the fact would contribute but little to
his fame, for I have not seen one which might not have been executed by
a professional “formschneider” of very moderate abilities. The total of
the wood-cuts supposed to have been engraved by him does not exceed
twenty. The following is a reduced copy of a wood-cut ascribed to Lucas
van Leyden, in the Print Room of the British Museum, but which is not in
Bartsch’s Catalogue, nor in the list of Lucas van Leyden’s engravings in
Meusel’s Neue Miscellaneen. Though I very much question if the original
cut were engraved by Lucas himself, I have no doubt of its being from
his design. It represents the death of Sisera; and, with a noble
contempt of the unity of time, Jael is seen giving Sisera a drink of
milk, driving the nail into his head, and then showing the body,--with
herself in the act of driving the nail,--to Barak and his followers: the
absurdity of this threefold action has perhaps never been surpassed in
any cut ancient or modern. Sir Boyle Roach said that it was impossible
for any _person_, except a _bird_ or a _fish_, to be in two places at
once; but here we have a pictorial representation of a female being in
no less than three; and in one of the localities actually pointing out
to certain persons how she was then employed in another.


Heineken, in his account of engravers of the Flemish school, has either
committed an egregious mistake, or expressed himself with intentional
ambiguity with respect to a wood-cut printed at Antwerp, and which he
saw in the collections of the Abbé de Marolles. His notice of this cut
is as follows: “I found in the collections of the Abbé de Marolles, in
the cabinet of the King of France, a detached piece, which, in my
opinion, is the most ancient of the wood engravings executed in the Low
Countries which bear the name of the artist. This cut is marked,
_Gheprint t’ Antwerpen by my Phillery de figursnider_--Printed at
Antwerp, by me Phillery, the engraver of figures. It serves as a proof
that the engravers of moulds were, at Antwerp, in that ancient time,
also printers.”[V-83]

    [Footnote V-83: “J’ai trouvé dans les Recueils de l’Abbé de
    Marolles, au Cabinet du Roi de France, une piece détachée, qui,
    suivant mon sentiment, est la plus ancienne de celles, qui sont
    gravées en bois dans les Païs-Bas, et qui portent le nom de
    l’artiste. Cette estampe est marquée: _Gheprint t’ Antwerpen by my
    Phillery de figursnider--Imprimé à Anvers, chez moi Phillery, le
    graveur de figures_. Elle sert de preuve, que les graveurs de
    moules étoient aussi, dans cet ancien tems, imprimeurs à
    Anvers.”--Idée Générale d’une Collection complette d’Estampes,
    p. 197.]

In this vague and ambiguous account, the writer gives us no idea of the
period to which he refers in the words “cet ancien tems.” If he means
the time between the pretended invention of Coster, and the period when
typography was probably first practised in the Low Countries,--that is,
from about 1430 to 1472,--he is wrong, and his statement would afford
ground for a presumption that he had either examined the cut very
carelessly, or that he was so superficially acquainted with the
progressive improvement of the art of wood engraving as to mistake a cut
abounding in cross-hatching, and certainly executed subsequent to 1524,
for one that had been executed about seventy years previously, when
cross-hatching was never attempted, and when the costume was as
different from that of the figures represented in the cut as the costume
of Vandyke’s portraits is dissimilar to Hogarth’s. The words “_graveurs
de moules_,” I have translated literally “engravers of moulds,” for I
cannot conceive what else Heineken can mean; but this expression is
scarcely warranted by the word “_figuersnider_” on the cut, which is
almost the same as the German “formschneider;” and whatever might be the
original meaning of the word, it was certainly used to express merely a
wood engraver. Compilers of Histories of Art, and Dictionaries of
Painters and Engravers, who usually follow their leader, even in his
slips, as regularly as a flock of sheep follow the bell-wether through a
gap, have disseminated Heineken’s mistake, and the antiquity of
“_Phillery’s_” wood-engraving is about as firmly established as Lawrence
Coster’s invention of typography. One of those “straightforward” people
has indeed gone rather beyond his authority; for in a “Dictionary of the
Fine Arts,” published in 1826, we are expressly informed that
“_Phillery, who lived near the end of the fourteenth century, was the
first engraver on wood who practised in the Netherlands_.”[V-84] It is
thus that error on the subject of art, and indeed on every other
subject, is propagated: a writer of reputation makes an incorrect or an
ambiguous statement; other writers adopt it without examination, and not
unfrequently one of that class whose confidence in deciding on a
question is in the inverse ratio of their knowledge of the subject,
proceeds beyond his original authority, and declares that to be certain
which previously had only been doubtfully or obscurely expressed. In
Heineken’s notice of this cut there is an implied qualification under
which he might screen himself from a charge of incorrectness with
respect to the time of its execution, though not from a charge of
ambiguity. He says that, in his opinion, it is “the most ancient of the
wood engravings executed in the Low Countries _which bear the name of
the artist_;” and with this limitation his opinion may be correct,
although the cut were only engraved in 1525 or 1526; for I am not aware
of any wood engraving of an earlier date, executed in the Low Countries,
that contains the _name_ of the artist, though there are several which
contain the artist’s mark. It also may be argued that the words “_cet
ancien tems_” might be about as correctly applied to designate the year
1525 as 1470: if, however, he meant the first of those dates, he has
expressed himself in an equivocal manner, for he is generally understood
to refer the cut to a considerably earlier period. It has been indeed
conjectured that Heineken, in speaking of this cut, might intentionally
express himself obscurely, in order that he might not give offence to
his friend Monsieur Mariette, who is said to have considered it to be
one of the earliest specimens of wood engravings executed in the Low
Countries. This is, however, without any sufficient reason, merely
shifting the charge of ignorance, with respect to the difference of
style in wood engravings of different periods, from Heineken to Monsieur
Mariette. As there is no evidence to show that the latter ever expressed
any such opinion as that ascribed to him respecting the antiquity of the
cut in question, Heineken alone is answerable for the account contained
in his book. Impressions of the cut by “_Phillery_” are not of very
great rarity; there are two in the Print Room at the British Museum, and
from one of them the reduced copy in the following page has been
carefully made.

    [Footnote V-84: In a work of a similar kind, and of equal
    authority, published in 1834, we are informed that Ugo da Carpi
    was a historical painter, and that he died in 1500. He was only
    born in 1486.]


Any person, however, slightly acquainted with the progress of wood
engraving could scarcely fail to pronounce that the original of this cut
must have been executed subsequent to 1500, and in all probability
subsequent to the cuts of the Triumphal Procession of Maximilian, to the
general style of which, so far as relates to the manner of engraving, it
bears considerable resemblance. The costume of the figures, too, also
proves that it does not belong to the fifteenth century; and on
carefully examining the inscription, a person accustomed to the old
German or Dutch characters would be more likely to read “_Willem_” than
“_Phillery_” as the name of the artist. To one of the impressions in the
British Museum a former owner, after extracting Heineken’s account, has
appended the following remark: “This is the print above described. There
seems to be an inconsiderable mistake in the name, which I take to be
D’villery.” It is to be observed that in the original, as in the
preceding copy, the inscription is engraved on wood, and not set up in
type; and that consequently the first character of the doubtful name is
rather indistinct. It is however most probably a _W_; and the last is
certainly an _m_, with a flourish at its tail. The intermediate letters
_ille_ are plain enough, and if the first be supposed to be a _W_, and
the last an _m_, we have the name _Willem_,--a very probable prenomen
for a Dutch wood engraver of the sixteenth century. The inscription when
carefully examined is literally as follows: “_Gheprint Tantwerpen Bij
mij Willem de Figuersnider_.” Heineken’s mistake of _Phillery_ for
_Willem_, or William, and thus giving a heretofore unheard-of name to
the list of artists, is not unlike that of Scopoli the naturalist, who,
in one of his works, has commemorated “Horace Head” as a London


    [Footnote V-85: The sign of Mr. Benjamin White, formerly a
    bookseller in Fleet Street, was Horace’s Head. In Scopoli’s
    Deliciæ, Flora, et Fauna Insubriæ, plate 24 is thus inscribed:
    “Auspiciis Benjamini White et Horatii Head, Bibliopol.
    Londinensium.” The learned naturalist had mistaken Mr. White’s
    sign for his partner in the business.]

Though the cut which bears the name of the supposed “Phillery” contains
internal evidence of its not having been engraved in the fifteenth
century, there is yet further reason to believe that it is merely a copy
of part of a cut of the same size by a Swiss artist of the name of Urse
Graff, which is dated 1524. There is an impression of Urse Graff’s cut
[V-86] in the Print Room of the British Museum; in the fore-ground are
the figures which have obviously been copied by _Willem de
Figuersnider_, alias _Phillery_, and immediately behind the middle
figure, who holds in his right hand a large Swiss espadon, is a leafless
tree with a figure of Death clinging to the upper part of the trunk, and
pointing to a hour-glass which he holds in his left hand. A bird,
probably intended for a raven, is perched above the hour-glass; and on
the trunk of the tree, near to the figure of Death, is Urse Graff’s mark
with the date as is here given. The back-ground presents a view of a
lake, with buildings and mountains on the left. The general character of
Urse Graff’s subject is Swiss, both in the scenery and figures; and the
perfect identity of the latter with those in the cut “printed at Antwerp
by William the figure-cutter” proves, beyond the possibility of a doubt,
that one of those two artists has copied the work of the other. Urse
Graff’s subject, however, is complete, and corresponds both in the
landscape and in the costume of the figures with the country of the
artist; while the cut of William of Antwerp represents merely an
unrelieved group of figures in the costume of Switzerland. Urse Graff
was an artist of reputation in his time; of “Willem,” who was probably
only an engraver of the designs of others, nothing more is known beyond
what is afforded by the single cut in question. From these
circumstances, though it cannot be positively decided which of those
cuts is the original, it is almost morally certain that the Flemish
figure-cutter has copied the work of the Swiss artist.--Urse Graff
resided at Basle, of which city he was probably a native. In one of his
engravings with the date 1523, he describes himself as a goldsmith and
die-sinker. Wood-cuts containing his mark are not very common, and the
most of them appear to have been executed between 1515 and 1528.
A series of wood-cuts of the Passion of Christ, designed in a very
inferior manner, and printed at Strasburg in 1509, are sometimes
ascribed to him on account of their being marked with the letters V. G.,
which some writers have supposed to be the mark of an artist named Von
Gamperlin. Professor Christ, in his Dictionary of Monograms, says that
he can find nothing to determine him in favour of the name Gamperlin;
and that he is rather inclined to think that those letters are intended
for the name Von Goar, which he believes that he has deciphered on an
engraving containing this mark. The mark of Urse Graff, a V and a G
interlaced, occurs in the ornamented border of the title-page of several
books printed at Basle, and amongst others on the title of a quarto
edition of Ulrich Hutten’s Nemo, printed there by Frobenius in 1519. At
the end of this edition there is a beautifully-designed cut of the
printer’s device, which is probably the work of the same artist.[V-87]

    [Footnote V-86: This cut of Urse Graff is described in Bartsch’s
    Peintre-Graveur, tom. vii. p. 465, No. 16.]

    [Footnote V-87: The device of Frobenius at the end of an edition
    of the same work, printed by him in 1518, is much inferior to that
    in the edition of 1519. In both, the ornamental border of the
    title-page is the same.]

A painter, named Nicholas Emanuel Deutsch, a contemporary of Urse Graff,
and who resided at Bern, is said, by Sandrart, to have been of a noble
English family, and the same writer adds that he left his own country on
account of his religion. The latter statement, however, is not likely to
be correct, for there are wood-cuts, with this artist’s mark, dated
“Bern, 1518;” which was before the persecution in England on account of
the doctrines of Luther had commenced. In J. R. Füssli’s Dictionary of
Artists it is stated that he was of a French family, of the name of
Cholard, but that he was born at Bern in 1484, and died there in 1530.
He was a poet as well as a painter, and held one of the highest offices
in the magistracy of Bern.

Within the first thirty years of the sixteenth century the practice of
illustrating books with wood-cuts seems to have been more general than
at any other period, scarcely excepting the present; for though within
the last eight or ten years an immense number of wood-cuts have been
executed in England and France, yet wood engravings at the time referred
to were introduced into a greater variety of books, and the art was more
generally practised throughout Europe. In modern German and Dutch works
wood engravings are sparingly introduced; and in works printed in
Switzerland and Italy they are still more rarely to be found. In the
former period the art seems to have been very generally practised
throughout Europe, though to a greater extent, and with greater skill,
in Germany than in any other country. The wood-cuts which are to be
found in Italian books printed between 1500 and 1530 are mostly meagre
in design and very indifferently engraved; and for many years after the
German wood engravers had begun to give variety of colour and richness
of effect to their cuts by means of cross-hatchings, their Italian
contemporaries continued to adhere to the old method of engraving their
figures, chiefly in outline, with the shadows and the folds of the
draperies indicated by parallel lines. These observations relate only to
the ordinary wood engravings of the period, printed in the same page
with type, or printed separately in the usual manner of surface printing
at one impression. The admirable chiaro-scuros of Ugo da Carpi, printed
from two or more blocks, are for effect and general excellence the most
admirable specimens of this branch of the art that ever have been
executed; they are as superior to the chiaro-scuros of German artists as
the usual wood engravings of the latter excel those executed in Italy
during the same period.

In point of drawing, some of the best wood-cuts executed in Italy in the
time of Albert Durer are to be found in a folio work entitled Triompho
di Fortuna, written by Sigismond Fanti, and printed at Venice in
1527.[V-88] The subject of this work, which was licensed by Pope Clement
VII, is the art of fortune-telling, or of answering all kinds of
questions relative to future events. The volume contains a considerable
number of wood-cuts; some designed and executed in the very humblest
style of wood engraving, and others, which appear to have been drawn on
the block with pen-and-ink, designed with great spirit. The smallest and
most inferior cuts serve as illustrations to the questions, and an idea
may be formed of them from the three here given, which occur under the
question: “Qual fede o legge sia di queste tre la buona, o la
Christiana, l’Hebrea, o quello di Mahumeto?”[V-89] In English: “Which of
these three religions is the best, the Christian, the Jewish, or the
Mahometan?” Several larger cuts are executed in a dry hard style, and
evidently drawn by a person very inferior to the artist who designed the
cuts executed in the manner of pen-and-ink drawings. The following is a
fac-simile of one of the latter. It is entitled “Fortuna de Africo,” in
a series of twelve, intended for representations of the winds.

    [Footnote V-88: The title of this book is, in red letters,
    “Triompho di Fortuna, di Sigismondo Fanti, Ferrarese.” The
    title-page is also ornamented with a wood-cut, representing the
    Pope, with Virtue on one side, and Vice on the other, seated above
    the globe, which is supported by Atlas, and provided with an axis,
    having a handle at each side, like a winch. At one of the handles
    is a devil, and at the other an angel; to the left is a naked
    figure holding a die, and near to him is an astronomer taking an
    observation. At the foot of the cut is the mark I. M. or T. M.,
    for I cannot positively decide whether the first letter be
    intended for an I or a T. The following is the colophon: “Impresso
    in la inclita citta di Venegia per Agostin da Portese. Nel anno
    dil virgineo parto MD.XXVII. Nel mese di Genaro, ad instātia di
    Jacomo Giunta Mercatāte Florentino. Con il Privilegio di Clemente
    Papa VII, et del Senato Veneto a requisitione di l’Autore.” In the
    Catalogue of the British Museum this book is erroneously entered
    as printed at Rome, 1526. The compiler had mistaken the date of
    the Pope’s licence for the time when the book was printed. This
    trifling mistake is noticed here, as from similar oversights
    bibliographers have sometimes described books as having been twice
    or thrice printed, when, in fact, there had been only one

    [Footnote V-89: The following questions, selected from a number of
    others, will perhaps afford some idea of this “Opera utilissima et
    jocosa,” as it is called by the author. “Se glie bene a pigliar
    bella, o bruta donna; se’l servo sara fidele al suo signore; se
    quest’ anno sara carestia o abundantia; quanti mariti havera la
    donna; se glie bene a far viaggio et a che tempo; se’l parto della
    donna sara maschio o femina; se’l sogno fatto sara vero; se’l fin
    del huomo sara buono.” The three small illustrations of the last
    query are of evil omen; in one, is seen a gallows; in another,
    a man praying; and in the third, the quarters of a human body hung
    up in terrorem.]





The following cut, which appears in folio 38, is intitled “Michael
Fiorentino,”--Michael Angelo; and it certainly conveys no bad idea of
the energetic manner in which that great artist is said to have used his
mallet and chisel when engaged on works of sculpture. This cut, however,
is made to represent several other sculptors besides the great
Florentine; it is repeated seven times in the subsequent pages, and on
each occasion we find underneath it a different name. The late
T. Stothard, R.A. was of opinion that wood engraving was best adapted to
express pen-and-ink drawing, and that the wood engraver generally failed
when he attempted more. His illustrations of Rogers’s poems, engraved on
wood by Clennell and Thompson, are executed in a similar style to that
of the following specimen, though with greater delicacy.


Certain wood-cuts with the mark A. G., executed towards the conclusion
of the fifteenth century, have been ascribed to an artist named Albert
Glockenton. Bartsch, however, says that the name of the artist is
unknown; and he seems to consider that Sandrart had merely conjectured
that those letters might represent the name Albert Glockenton. For no
better reason the letters I. V. on a tablet, with two pilgrim’s-staffs
crossed between them, which are to be found on several old chiaro-scuro
wood engravings, have been supposed to represent the name, John Ulric
Pilgrim. This name appears to be a pure invention of some ingenious
expounder of monograms, for there is not the slightest evidence, that I
am aware of, to show that any artist of this name ever lived. The
chiaro-scuros with this mark were probably executed in the time of
Durer, but none of them contains a date to establish the fact. Heineken
considers them to have been the productions of a German artist; and he
refers to them in proof of the art of chiaro-scuro having been practised
in Germany long before the time of Ugo da Carpi. It is, however, highly
questionable if they are of an earlier date than 1518; and it is by no
means certain that the artist was a German. By some persons he has been
supposed to have been the inventor of chiaro-scuro engraving, on no
better grounds, it would seem, than that his pieces are without a date.

Next to the Germans, in the time of Albert Durer, the Dutch and Flemings
seem to have excelled in the art of wood engraving; but the cuts
executed in Holland and Flanders are generally much inferior to those
designed and engraved by German artists. In a considerable number of
Dutch wood engravings, of the period under review, I have observed an
attempt to combine something like the effect of cross-hatching and of
the dotted manner mentioned at page 232 as having been frequently
practised by French wood engravers in the early part of the sixteenth
century. In a series of cuts from a Dutch prayer-book, apparently
printed between 1520 and 1530, this style of engraving is frequently
introduced. Where a German artist would have introduced lines crossing
each other with great regularity, the Dutch wood engraver has
endeavoured to attain his object by irregularly picking out portions of
the wood with the point of his graver; the effect, however, is not good.
In the border surrounding those cuts, a Dance of Death is represented,
consisting of several more characters than are to be found in the
celebrated work ascribed to Holbein, but far inferior in point of design
and execution.

An artist, named John Walter van Assen, is usually mentioned as one of
the best Dutch wood engravers or designers of this period. Nothing
further is known of him than that he lived at Amsterdam about 1517. The
mark supposed to be Van Assen’s is often ascribed by expounders of
monograms to another artist whom they call Werner or Waer van Assanen.

A considerable number of French works, printed in the time of Albert
Durer, contain wood engravings, but few of them possess much merit when
compared with the more highly finished and correctly drawn productions
of the German school of the same period. The ornamental borders,
however, of many missals and prayer-books, which then issued in great
numbers from the Parisian press, frequently display great beauty. The
taste for surrounding each page with an ornamental border engraved on
wood was very generally prevalent in Germany, France, and Flanders at
that period, more especially in devotional works; and in the former
country, and in Switzerland, scarcely a tract was printed--and the
Lutheran controversy gave rise to many hundreds--without an ornamental
border surrounding the title. In Germany such wood engravers as were
chiefly employed in executing cuts of this kind were called
_Rahmen-schneiders_--border-cutters,--as has been previously observed at
page 190. In England during the same period wood engraving made but
little progress; and there seems to have been a lack of good designers
and competent engravers in this country. The best cuts printed in
England in the time of Durer are contained in a manual of prayers, of a
small duodecimo size. On a tablet in the border of one of the cuts--the
Flight into Egypt[V-90]--I perceive the date 1523. The total number of
cuts in the volume is about a hundred; and under each of the largest are
four verses in English. Several of the smaller cuts, representing
figures of saints, and preceding the prayers for their respective days,
have evidently been designed by an artist of considerable talent. As
most of the wood-cuts which constitute the ornaments or the
illustrations of books printed at this period are without any name or
mark, it is impossible to ascertain the names of the persons by whom
they were designed or engraved.

    [Footnote V-90: The following lines descriptive of this cut are
    printed underneath it:

      +How Mary and Joseph with iesu were fayne.
        In to Egypte for socour to fle.
      Whan the Innocentes for his sake wer slayne.
        By com̄issyon of Herodes crueltie.+]

The manner of wood engraving in _intaglio_ so that the figures appear
white on a black ground, so frequently adopted by early Italian wood
engravers, was sometimes practised in Germany; and in one of the
earliest works containing portraits of the Roman emperors,[V-91] copied
from ancient medals, printed in the latter country, the cuts are
executed in this style. The subject of the work is the lives of the
Roman emperors, written by Joannes Huttichius, and the portraits with
which it is illustrated are copied from medals in a collection which had
been formed by the Emperor Maximilian, the great promoter of wood
engraving in Germany. The first edition, in Latin, was printed by Wolff
Köpffel, at Strasburg, in 1525; and a second edition, in German, was
published at the same place in the succeeding year. The cut on the next
page, of the head of Nero, will afford an idea of the style in which the
portraits are executed, and of the fidelity with which the artist has in
general represented the likeness impressed on the original medals.

    [Footnote V-91: In a folio work entitled “Epitome Thesauri
    Antiquitatum, hoc est IMPP. Rom. Orientalium et Occidentalium
    Iconum, ex Antiquis Numismatibus quam fidelissime delineatarum. Ex
    Musæo Jacobi de Strada Mantuani Antiquarii,” Lyons, 1553, it is
    stated that the first work containing portraits of the Roman
    emperors engraved from their coins was that entitled “Illustrium
    Imagines,” written by Cardinal Sadolet, and printed at Rome by
    Jacobus Mazochius.--In Strada’s work the portraits are executed in
    the same manner as in that of Huttichius. The wood-cut containing
    the printer’s device, on the title-page of Strada’s work, is
    admirably engraved.]

Besides Durer, Burgmair, Cranach, and Schaufflein, there are several
other German painters of the same period who are also said to have
engraved on wood, and among the most celebrated of this secondary class
the following may be mentioned: Hans Sebald Behaim, previously noticed
at page 253; Albert Altdorffer; Hans Springinklee; and Hans Baldung
Grün. The marks of all those artists are to be found on wood-cuts
executed in the time of Durer; but I am extremely doubtful if those cuts
were actually engraved by themselves. If they were, I can only say that,
though they might be good painters and designers, they were very
indifferent wood engravers; and that their time in executing the
subjects ascribed to them must have been very badly employed. The common
working _formschneider_ who could not execute them as well, must have
been a very ordinary wood-_cutter_, not to say wood-_engraver_,--by the
latter term meaning one who excels in his profession, and not a mere
cutter of lines, without skill or taste, on box or pear-tree.


Albert Altdorffer was born at Ratisbon in 1480, and afterwards became a
magistrate of his native city. The engravings on wood and copper
containing his mark are mostly of a small size, and he is generally
known as one of the _little masters_ of the German school of
engraving.[V-92] Hans Springinklee was a painter of some eminence, and
according to Doppelmayer, as referred to by Bartsch, was a pupil of
Durer’s. His mark is to be found on several wood-cuts; and it occurs in
one of the illustrations in the Wise King. Hans Baldung Grün was born at
Gemund in Suabia, and studied at Nuremberg under Albert Durer. He
excelled as a painter; and the wood-cuts which contain his mark are
mostly designed with great spirit. The earliest wood engraving that
contains his mark is a frontispiece to a volume of sermons with the date
1508; and the latest is a group of horses, engraved in a hard, stiff
manner, with the name “BALDUNG” and the date 1534.[V-93] He chiefly
resided at Strasburg, where he died in 1545. He is mentioned by Durer,
in his Journal, by the name of “Grün Hannsen.”

    [Footnote V-92: Heineken ranks the following in the class of
    _little masters_: Henry Aldgrever, Albert Altdorffer, Bartholomew
    Behaim, Hans Sebald Behaim, Hans Binck, Henry Goerting, George
    Penez, and Virgil Solis. Most of them were engravers on copper.]

    [Footnote V-93: The following curious testimony respecting a lock
    of Albert Durer’s hair, which had formerly been in the possession
    of Hans Baldung Grün, is translated from an article in Meusel’s
    Neue Miscellaneen, 1799. The lock of hair and the document were
    then in the possession of Herr H. S. Hüsgen of Frankfort on the
    Mayn: “Herein is the hair which was cut from the head of that
    ingenious and celebrated painter Albert Durer, after his death at
    Nuremberg, 8th April 1528, as a token of remembrance. It
    afterwards came into the possession of that skilful painter Hans
    Baldung, burger of this city, Strasburg; and after his death, in
    1545, my late brother-in-law, Nicholas Krämer, painter, of this
    city, having bought sundry of his works and other things, among
    them found this lock of hair, in an old letter, wherein was
    written an account of what it contained. On the death of my
    brother-in-law, in 1550, it was presented to me by my sister
    Dorothy, and I now enclose it in this letter for a memorial. 1559.
    SEBOLD BÜHELER.” To this testimony are subjoined two or three
    others of subsequent date, showing in whose possession the valued
    relic had been before it came into the hands of Herr Hüsgen.]


We may here conveniently introduce fac-similes on a reduced scale of two
rather interesting wood engravings given by Dr. Dibdin in his
Bibliomania, and copied from an early folio volume, entitled
_Revelationes cœlestes sanctæ Brigittæ de Suecia_, printed at Nuremberg
by Anthony Köberger, M CCC XXI. _mensis Septembris_, which some read
1500, on the 21st of September, others 1521, in the month of September.
The first of these cuts is curious as representing the simplicity of an
ancient reading room, with its three-legged joint stool, such as is so
prettily described by Cowper, Task, I. v. 19; the other cut describes a
punishment which is said to have been revealed to St. Bridget against
those ladies who have “ornamenta indecentia capitibus et pedibus, et
reliquis membris, ad provocandam luxuriam, et irritandum Deum, in
strictis vestibus, ostensione mamillarum, unctionibus, &c.” The artist
is unknown, but seems to be among the best of the Nuremberg school.


It cannot be reasonably doubted that Durer and several other German
painters of his time were accustomed to engrave their own designs on
copper; for in many instances we have the express testimony of their
contemporaries, and not unfrequently their own, to the fact.
Copper-plate engraving for about sixty years from the time of its
invention was generally practised by persons who were also painters, and
who usually engraved their own designs. Wood engraving, on the contrary,
from an early period was practised as a distinct profession by persons
who are never heard of as painters. That some of the early German
painters--of a period when “artists were more of workmen, and workmen
more of artists”[V-94] than in the present day--_might_ engrave some of
the wood-cuts which bear their marks, is certainly not impossible; but
it is highly improbable that all the wood-cuts which are ascribed to
them should have been executed by themselves. If any wood-cuts were
actually engraved by Durer, Cranach, Burgmair, and other painters of
reputation, I conceive that such cuts are not to be distinguished by
their superior execution from those engraved by the professional
_formschneider_ and _brief-maler_ of the day. The best copper-plates
engraved by Albert Durer can scarcely be surpassed by the best
copper-plate engraver of the present day,--that is, supposing him to
execute his work by the same means; while the best of the wood-cuts
which he is supposed to have engraved himself might be readily executed
by a score of modern wood engravers if the subject were drawn for them
on the block. In the age of Durer the best wood-cuts are of
comparatively large size, and are distinguished more from the boldness
and freedom of their design than from any peculiar excellence of
engraving: they display, in fact, rather the talent of the _artist_ than
the skill of the _workman_. Though wood engraving had very greatly
improved from about the end of the fifteenth century to the time of
Durer’s decease, yet it certainly did not attain its perfection within
that period. In later years, indeed, the workman has displayed greater
excellence; but at no time does the art appear to have been more
flourishing or more highly esteemed than in the reign of its great
patron, the Emperor Maximilian.

    [Footnote V-94: Evidence of Dr. G. F. Waagen of Berlin before the
    Select Committee of the House of Commons on Arts and their
    Connexion with Manufactures, 1835.]




  The Dance of Death -- Painted in Several Old Churches -- Two
  Paintings of this Subject at Basle -- Old Editions of La Danse
  Macabre, with Wood-Cuts -- Les Simulachres et Historiées Faces de la
  Mort, Usually Called the Dance of Death, Printed at Lyons, 1538 --
  Various Editions and Copies of this Work -- Icones Historiarum
  Veteris Testamenti, or Bible Cuts, Designed by Hans Holbein --
  Similarity Between these Cuts and those of the Lyons Dance of Death
  -- Cuts of Both Works, Probably Designed by the Same Person --
  Portrait of Sir T. Wyatt -- Cuts in Cranmer’s Catechism -- And in
  Other Old English Works -- Wood-Engraving in Italy -- Chiaro-Scuro
  -- Marcolini’s Sorti -- S. Munster’s Cosmography -- Maps -- Virgil
  Solis -- Bernard Solomon -- Jost Ammon -- Andrea Andreani -- Henry
  Goltzius -- English Wood-Cuts -- Cuts by Christopher Jegher from the
  Designs of Rubens -- General Decline of the Art in the Seventeenth

The best of the wood-cuts of the time of Albert Durer, more especially
those executed by German engravers, are for the most part of rather
large size; the best of those, however, which appeared within forty
years of his decease are generally small. The art of wood engraving,
both as regards design and execution, appears to have attained its
highest perfection within about ten years of the time of Durer’s
decease; for the cuts which, in my opinion, display the greatest
excellence of the art as practised in former times, were published in
1538. The cuts to which I allude are those of the celebrated Dance of
Death, which were first published in that year at Lyons. So admirably
are those cuts executed,--with so much feeling and with so perfect a
knowledge of the capabilities of the art,--that I do not think any wood
engraver of the present time is capable of surpassing them. The manner
in which they are engraved is comparatively simple: there is no laboured
and unnecessary cross-hatching where the same effect might be obtained
by simpler means; no display of fine work merely to show the artist’s
talent in cutting delicate lines. Every line is expressive; and the end
is always obtained by the simplest means. In this the talent and feeling
of the engraver are chiefly displayed. He wastes not his time in mere
mechanical execution--which in the present day is often mistaken for
excellence;--he endeavours to give to each character its appropriate
expression; and in this he appears to have succeeded better, considering
the small size of the cuts, than any other wood engraver, either of
times past or present.

Though two or three of the cuts which will subsequently be given may be
of rather earlier date than those of the Dance of Death, it seems
preferable to give first some account of this celebrated work; and to
introduce the cuts alluded to, though not in strict chronological
order,--which is the less necessary as they do not illustrate the
progress of the art,--with others executed in a similar style.

Long before the publication of the work now so generally known as “The
Dance of Death,” a series of paintings representing, in a similar
manner, Death seizing on persons of all ranks and ages, had appeared on
the walls of several churches. A Dance of Death was painted in the
cloisters of the Church of the Innocents at Paris, in the cloisters of
St. Paul’s, London, and in the portico of St. Mary’s, Lubec. The
painting in St Paul’s is said to have been executed at the cost of one
Jenkin Carpenter, who lived in the reign of Henry VI, and who was one of
the executors of that famous “lord-mayor of London,” Richard
Whittington; and Dugdale, in his History of St. Paul’s Cathedral, says
that it was in imitation of that in the cloisters of the Church of the
Innocents at Paris.[VI-1] This subject seems to have been usually known
in former times by the name of “The Dance of Machabre,” from a French or
German poet--for this point is not settled by the learned--of the name
of Macaber or Macabre, who is said to have written a poem on this
subject.[VI-2] The Dance of Death, however, which as a painting has
attained greater celebrity and given rise to much more discussion than
any other, is that which was painted on the wall of a kind of
court-house attached to the Church of the Dominicans at Basle. This
painting has frequently been ascribed to Holbein; but it certainly was
executed before he was born; and there is not the slightest reason to
believe that he ever touched it in any of the repairs which it underwent
in subsequent years.

    [Footnote VI-1: Besides those above mentioned, there is said to
    have been a “Death’s Dance” at the following places: in
    Hungerford’s Chapel, Salisbury Cathedral; Hexham Church; at
    Fescamp in Normandy, carved in stone; at Dresden; Leipsic;
    Annaberg; and Berne in Switzerland. The last, painted on the walls
    of the cloisters of the Dominican friars, was the work of Nicholas
    Emanuel Deutsch, previously mentioned at page 314. So early as
    1560 this painting was destroyed in consequence of the cloisters
    being pulled down to widen a street. There are two copies of it in
    water-colours preserved at Berne. From one of them a series of
    lithographic engravings has been made. An ample list of old
    paintings of this subject will be found in Mr. Douce’s Dance of
    Death, chapters iii. and iv, published by Pickering, 1833, and
    republished, with additions, by H. G. Bohn, 1858.]

    [Footnote VI-2: Mr. Douce says, “Macaber was not a German or any
    other poet, but a nonentity.” He supposes that the name _Macaber_
    is only a slight and obvious corruption of _Macarius_, a Saint who
    lived as a hermit in Egypt, and of whom there is a story of his
    showing to three kings or noblemen an emblem of mortality in the
    shape of three skeletons. “The word _Macabre_,” observes Mr.
    Douce, “is found only in French authorities; and the Saint’s name,
    which in the modern orthography is _Macaire_, would in many
    ancient manuscripts be written _Macabre_ instead of _Macaure_, the
    letter _b_ being substituted for that of _u_ from the caprice,
    ignorance, or carelessness of transcribers.” Mr. Douce’s
    conjecture would have been more feasible had he produced a single
    instance from any ancient manuscript of the name having been
    written _Macabre_ instead of _Macaure_ or _Macarius_. By a similar
    process of reasoning, it would not be difficult to prove a hundred
    old writers and poets non-entities. In the earliest French
    editions, the work is intitled “La Danse Macabre;” and in a
    Parisian edition, “Per Magistrum Guidonem Mercatorem pro Godefrido
    de Marnef,” folio, 1490, the title is as follows: “Chorea ab
    eximio Macabro versibus Alemanicis edita, et à Petro Desrey
    emendata.” This seems to prove that Peter Desrey knew something of
    a person named Macaber who had written a description of the Dance
    in German.]

The following particulars respecting this painting are such as seem best

It is said to owe its origin to a plague which ravaged the city of Basle
in 1439, during the time of the great council, which commenced in 1431,
and did not terminate till 1448. A number of persons of almost all
ranks, whom the council had brought to this city, having fallen victims
to the plague, it is said that the painting was executed in remembrance
of the event, and as a memento of the uncertainty of life. Though it may
be true that the great mortality at Basle in 1439 might have been the
occasion of such a picture in the church-court--_Kirchhofe_, as it is
called by Hegner in his Life of Holbein--of the Dominicans in that city,
it is almost certain that the subject must have been suggested by one of
much earlier date painted on the walls of an old building which had
formerly been the cloisters of a nunnery which stood in that part of
Basle which is called the Little City. This convent was founded in 1275;
and the painting appears to have been executed in 1312, according to the
following date, which was to be seen above one of the figures, that of
the Count, who was also one of the characters in the painting in the
church-court of the Dominicans: “+Dussent jar treihuntert und Xii+;” in
English: One thousand three hundred and twelve. Several of the figures
in this old painting were almost the same as in that of the church-court
of the Dominicans, though executed in a coarser manner; and, like the
latter, were accompanied with explanatory inscriptions in verse. This
curious old work appears to have remained unnoticed till 1766, when one
Emanuel Büchel, of Basle, by trade a baker, but an admirer of art, and
an industrious draughtsman, had his attention directed to it. He made a
careful copy in colours of all that then remained of it, and his
drawings are now in the public library of Basle. “This oldest Dance of
Death,” says Hegner, writing in 1827, “is almost entirely effaced, and
becomes daily more so, as well on account of age as from the cloisters
of the old nunnery having been for many years used as a warehouse for

    [Footnote VI-3: Hans Holbein der Jüngere. Von Ulrich Hegner,
    S. 309. Berlin, 1827.]

It is supposed that the Dance of Death in the church-court of the
Dominicans at Basle was originally painted in _fresco_ or distemper. The
number of characters, each accompanied by a figure of Death, was
originally forty;[VI-4] but in 1568, a painter, named Hans Hugo Klauber,
who was employed by the magistrates to repair the old painting,
introduced a figure of the reformer Oecolampadius as if preaching to the
characters composing the Dance, with portraits of himself, his wife, and
their little son, at the end. It is probable that he painted over the
old figures in oil-colour, and introduced sundry alterations, suggested
by other paintings and engravings of the same subject. It appears likely
that, at the same time, many of the old inscriptions were changed for
others more in accordance with the doctrines of the Reformation, which
then prevailed at Basle. The verses above the figure of the Pope were
certainly not such as would have been tolerated at the period when the
subject is supposed to have been first painted.[VI-5] In 1616 the
painting was again repaired; but, though a Latin inscription was then
added containing the names of the magistrates who had thus taken care to
preserve it, there is no mention made of any artist by whom the subject
had been originally painted or subsequently retouched. Had there been
any record of Holbein having been at any time employed on the work, such
a circumstance would most likely have been noticed; as his memory was
then held in the highest estimation, and Basle prided herself on having
had so eminent an artist enrolled among the number of her citizens. In
1658 the painting was again renewed: and there seems reason to believe
that further alterations were then introduced both in the costume and
the colouring. It was retouched in 1703; but from that time, as the
paint began to peel off from the decaying walls, all attempts for its
further preservation appear to have been considered hopeless. It would
indeed seem to have become in a great measure disregarded by the
magistrates, for a rope-maker used to exercise his trade under the roof
that protected it from the weather. As the old wall stood much in the
way of new buildings, it is not unlikely that they might be rather
wishful to have it removed. In 1805 the magistrates pronounced sentence
against the Dance of Death, and the wall on which it was painted was by
their orders pulled down, though not without considerable opposition on
the part of many of the citizens, more especially those of the suburb of
St. John, within which the old church-court of the Dominicans stood.
Several pieces of the painting were collected, and are still preserved
at Basle as memorials of the old “Todten-tanz,” which was formerly an
object of curiosity with all strangers who visited the city, and which
has been so frequently the subject of discussion in the history of art.

    [Footnote VI-4: All the persons introduced were of the size of
    life. Death, in only one instance, was represented as a perfect
    skeleton, and that was in the subject of the Doctor, whom he was
    supposed to address as follows:

      +“Herr Doctor b’schaw die Anatomey
      An mir, ob sie recht g’macht sey.”+

    that is:

      “Doctor, take of me a sight,
      Say if the skeleton be right.”

    It has been said that the Pope, the Emperor, and the King, were
    intended respectively for portraits of Pope Felix V, the Emperor
    Sigismund, and Albert II, his successor, as King of the Romans.
    This, however, is merely a conjecture, and not a very probable
    one. Sigismund died before the commencement of the plague which
    is said to have been the occasion of the painting.]

    [Footnote VI-5: Those verses, as they appeared in later times, are
    as follows:

      +“Heilig war ich auff Erd genant
      Ohn Gott der höchst führt ich mein stand.
      Der Ablass that mir gar wol lohnen
      Doch will der tod mein nicht verschonen.”+

    Their meaning may be thus expressed in English:

      “His Holiness, on earth my name;
      From God my power never came;
      Although by pardons wealth I got,
      Death, alas, will pardon not!”]

Mr. Douce has given a list of many books containing the figures of a
Dance of Death printed before the celebrated Simulachres et Historiées
Faces de la Mort of Lyons, 1538; and among the principal the following
may be here enumerated.--A German edition, intitled “Der Dodtendanz mit
figuren. Clage und Antwort schon von allen staten der Welt.” This work,
which is small folio, is mentioned in Braun’s Notitia librorum in
Bibliotheca ad SS. Udalricum et Afram Augustæ, vol. ii. p. 62. It is
without date, but Braun supposes that it may have been printed between
1480 and 1500. It consists of twenty-two leaves, with wood-cuts of the
Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Abbot, &c. &c. accompanied by figures of Death.
The descriptions are in German verse, and printed in double
columns.--The earliest printed book on this subject with a date is
intitled “La Danse Macabre imprimée par ung nommé Guy Marchand,”
&c. Paris, 1485, small folio. In 1486 Guy Marchand,--or Guyot Marchant,
as he is also called,--printed another edition, “La Danse Macabre
nouvelle,” with several additional cuts; and in the same year he printed
“La Danse Macabre des Femmes,” a small folio of fifteen leaves. This is
the first edition of the Macaber Dance of females. Thirty-two subjects
are described, but there are only cuts of two, the Queen and the
Duchess. In 1490 an edition appeared with the following title: “Chorea
ab eximio Macabro versibus Alemanicis edita, et à Petro Desrey emendata.
Parisiis, per magistrum Guidonem Mercatorem [Guy Marchand] pro Godefrido
de Marnef.” In the same year Marchand printed another edition of “La
nouvelle Danse Macabre des Hommes;” and in the year following there
appeared from his press a second edition of “La Danse Macabre des
Femmes,” with cuts of all the characters and other additions. A Dance of
Death, according to Von der Hagen, in his Deutsche Poesie, p. 459, was
printed at Leipsic in 1496; and in 1499 a “Grande Danse Macabre des
Hommes et Femmes” was printed in folio at Lyons. The latter is supposed
to be the earliest that contains cuts of both men and women. About 1500,
Ant. Verard printed an edition, in folio, of the Danse Macabre at Paris;
and in various years between 1500 and 1530 a work with the same title
and similar cuts was printed at Paris, Troyes, Rouen, Lyons, and Geneva.
Besides those works, characters from the Dance of Death were frequently
introduced as incidental illustrations in books of devotion, more
especially in those usually denominated Horæ or Hours of the Virgin, and
printed in France.[VI-6]

    [Footnote VI-6: Several characters are to be found in those Dances
    of Death which do not occur in the Simulachres et Historiées Faces
    de la Mort of Lyons, 1538. In the preface to the Emblems of
    Mortality,--with wood-cuts by John Bewick, 1789,--written by John
    Sidney Hawkins, Esq., the following list is given of the cuts in
    an edition of “La grande Danse de Macabre des Hommes et Femmes,”
    4to. printed at Troyes for John Garnier, but without a date. “The
    Pope, Emperor, Cardinal, King, Legate, Duke, Patriarch, Constable,
    Archbishop, Knight, Bishop, Squire, Abbot, Bailiff, Astrologer,
    Burgess, Canon, Merchant, Schoolmaster, Man of Arms, Chartreux,
    Serjeant, Monk, Usurer, Physician, Lover, Advocate, Minstrel,
    Curate, Labourer, Proctor, Gaoler, Pilgrim, Shepherd, Cordelier,
    Child, Clerk, Hermit, Adventurer, Fool. The women are the Queen,
    Duchess, Regent’s Wife, Knight’s Wife, Abbess, Squire’s Wife,
    Shepherdess, Cripple, Burgess’s Wife, Widow, Merchant’s Wife,
    Bailiff’s Wife, Young Wife, Dainty Dame, Female Philosopher,
    New-married Wife, Woman with Child, Old Maid, Female Cordelier,
    Chambermaid, Intelligence-Woman, Hostess, Nurse, Prioress, Damsel,
    Country Girl, Old Chambermaid, Huckstress, Strumpet, Nurse for
    Lying-in-Woman, Young Girl, Religious, Sorceress, Bigot, Fool.”
    Nearly the same characters occur in borders of the old Dutch
    Prayer Book mentioned at page 318, though in the latter they are
    yet more numerous; among the men there is a
    fowler--_vogelaer_--and among the women, the beauty--_scone_--and
    the old woman--_alde vrou_--which do not occur in the preceding

The celebrated “Dance of Death,” the cuts of which have been so
generally ascribed to Hans Holbein as the engraver as well as designer,
was first published at Lyons, in 1538. It is of small quarto size, and
the title is as follows: “Les Simulachres & Historiées faces de la Mort,
autant elegammēt pourtraictes, que artificiellement imaginées. A Lyon,
Soubz l’escu de Coloigne. M.D.XXXVIII.” On the title-page is an
emblematic wood-cut, very indifferently executed, representing three
heads joined together, with a wreath above them; the middle one a full
face, and those on each side in profile. Instead of shoulders, the
heads, or busts, are provided with a pair of wings of peacock’s
feathers; they rest on a kind of pedestal, on which is also an open book
inscribed with the maxim, “ΓΝΩΘΙ ΣΕΑΥΤΟΝ.” A large serpent is seen
confined by the middle in a hole which must be supposed to pass through
the pedestal; and to it (the pedestal) are chained two globes,--one
surmounted by a small cross, like the emblem of imperial authority,
and the other having two wings. This emblematic cut, which is certainly
not “l’escu de Coloigne,” is accompanied with the motto “_Usus me
Genuit_.”[VI-7] At the conclusion of the book is the imprint, within
an ornamental wood-cut border: “EXCVDEBANT LVGDVNI MELCHIOR ET GASPAR
TRECHSEL FRATRES. 1538.” The title is succeeded by a preface, of six
pages, which is followed by seven pages more, descriptive of “diverses
tables de Mort, non painctes, mais extraictes de l’escripture saincte,
colorées par Docteurs Ecclesiastiques, et umbragées par Philosophes.”
After those verbal sketches of Death come the cuts, one on each page;
and they are succeeded by a series of descriptions of death and
reflections on mortality, the general title to which, commencing at
signature H, is, “Figures de la Mort moralement descriptes, & depeinctes
selon l’authorité de l’scripture, & des sainctz Peres.”

    [Footnote VI-7: It has been thought necessary to be thus
    particular in describing the title-page of this rare edition, as
    it is incorrectly described by Mr. Douce. In the copy in the
    British Museum the title-page is wanting.]

By far the most important passage in the book, at least so far as
relates to the designer or engraver of the cuts, occurs in the preface,
which is written much in the style of a pedantic father-confessor to a
nunnery who felt a pleasure in ornamenting his Christian discourses and
exhortations with the flowers of Pagan eloquence. The preface is
addressed, “A moult reverende Abbesse du religieux convent S. Pierre de
Lyon, Madame Jehanne de Touszele, Salut dun vray Zele,”[VI-8] and the
passage above mentioned is to the following effect. “But to return to
our figured representations of Death, we have greatly to regret the
death of him who has imagined such elegant figures as are herein
contained, as much excelling all those heretofore printed,[VI-9] as the
pictures of Apelles or of Zeuxis surpass those of modern times; for, his
funereal histories, with their gravely versified descriptions, excite
such admiration in beholders, that the figures of Death appear to them
most life-like, while those of the living are the very pictures of
mortality. It therefore seems to me that Death, fearing that this
excellent painter would paint him in a manner so lively, that he should
be no longer feared as Death, and apprehensive that the artist would
thus become immortal, determined to shorten his days, and thus prevent
him finishing other subjects which he had already drawn. Among these is
one of a waggoner, knocked down and crushed under his broken waggon, the
wheels and horses of which appear so frightfully shattered and maimed
that it is as fearful to see their overthrow as it is amusing to behold
the liquorishness of a figure of Death, who is perceived roguishly
sucking the wine out of a broken cask, by means of a reed. To such
imperfect subjects, as to the inimitable heavenly bow named Iris,[VI-10]
no one has ventured to put the last hand, on account of the bold
drawing, perspectives, and shadows contained in this inimitable
chef-d’œuvre, there so gracefully delineated, that from it we may derive
a pleasing sadness and a melancholy pleasure, as in a thing mournfully
delightful.” The cut of the waggoner, described by the French euphuist,
was, however, afterwards finished, and, with others, inserted in a
subsequent edition of the work. It is figured in the present volume at
page 344.

    [Footnote VI-8: This “vray Zele” having said in the first page of
    the preface that the name and surname of the revered abbess had
    the same sound as his own, with the exception of the letter T, the
    editor of the Emblems conjectures “that his name was JEAN, or, as
    it was anciently written, JEHAN DE OUSZELL, or OZELL as it is now
    usually spelt.”]

    [Footnote VI-9: In the original, “avancantes autāt les patronées
    jusques ici.” The word _patronées_, I conceive to refer to cuts
    printed from wood-blocks. The editor of the Emblems, 1688, who is
    followed by Mr. Ottley, translated the passage, “exceeding all the
    _examples_ hitherto.” Works executed by means of a stencil were in
    old French said to be _patronées_, and the word also appears to
    have been applied to impressions printed from wood-blocks. The
    verb _patroner_ is thus explained in Noel and Chapsal’s Nouveau
    Dictionnaire de la Langue Française, Paris, 1828: “Terme de
    cartier: enduire de couleur, au moyen du patron évidé, les
    endroits où cette couleur doit paraître.”]

    [Footnote VI-10: Mr. Douce supposes that the rainbow here alluded
    to was that which appears in the cut of the Last Judgment, the
    last but one in the first edition. The writer evidently means the
    natural rainbow which is mostly seen imperfect.]

The number of cuts in the first edition, now under examination, is
forty-one; above each is a text of Scripture, in Latin; and below are
four verses in French--the “descriptions severement rithmées,” mentioned
in the preface--containing some moral or reflection germane to the
subject. A few sets of impressions of all those cuts, except one, appear
to have been taken before the work appeared at Lyons. They have been
printed by means of a press,--not taken by friction in the manner in
which wood engravers usually take their proofs,--and at the top of each
cut is the name in the German language, but in Italic type. “Why those
German names,” says Hegner, “in a work which, so far as we know, was
first published at Lyons? They appear to confirm the opinion of the cuts
having been actually engraved at Basle; and the descriptions correspond
with the dialect of that city.” The late Mr. Ottley had impressions of
forty of those original cuts, and six of those which were inserted in a
later edition. In his Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of
Engraving, Mr. Ottley, speaking of the Dance of Death, says: “It is
certain that the cuts had been previously printed at Basle; and, indeed,
some writers assert that the work was published in that city, with texts
of Scripture, in the German language, above the cuts, and verses, in the
same language, underneath, as early as 1530; although, hitherto, I have
been unable to meet with or hear of any person who had seen a copy of
such an edition.” In a note upon this passage, Jansen, the compiler of
an Essay on the Origin of Engraving, and the anonymous author of a work
entitled Notices sur les Graveurs, Besançon, 1807, are cited as
mentioning such an edition. To give every one his due, however, and to
show the original authority for the existence of such an edition, I beg
here to give an extract from Papillon, who never felt any difficulty in
supposing a date, and whose conjectures such writers as Jansen have felt
as little hesitation in converting into certainties. The substance of
Papillon’s observations on this point is as follows: “But to return to
Holbein’s Dance of Death, which is unquestionably a master-piece of wood
engraving. There are several editions; the first of which, _so far as
may be judged_, ought to be about 1530, as has been already said,[VI-11]
and was printed at Basle or Zurich, with a title to each cut, and,
_I believe_, verses underneath, all in the German language.” What
Papillon puts forth as a matter of conjecture and opinion, Von Murr,
Jansen, and the author of the Notices sur les Graveurs, promulgate as
facts, and Mr. Ottley refers to the two latter writers as if he were
well inclined to give credit to their assertions.

    [Footnote VI-11: Traité de la Gravure en Bois, tom. i. p. 168.
    Papillon in a preceding page had observed: “These cuts must have
    been engraved about 1530, for we find the four first among the
    little figures of the Old Testament printed in 1539, from which it
    is easy to perceive that many thousand impressions had already
    been taken from the blocks.”--Those four cuts in the first edition
    of the Dance of Death, have not the slightest appearance of having
    been from blocks that had already furnished many thousand
    impressions. In the copy now before me, I cannot perceive a break
    or an imperfection in the most delicate lines. The first edition
    of the “Historiarum Veteris Testamenti Icones,” to which Papillon
    alludes, first appeared in the same year as the Simulachres, 1538,
    and from the office of the same publishers, the brothers Melchior
    and Gaspar Trechsel.]

From the following passage it would appear that Mr. Ottley had also been
willing to believe that those impressions might have been accompanied
with explanatory verses and texts of Scripture. “I have only to add,
upon the subject of this celebrated work, that I am myself the fortunate
possessor of forty pieces, (the complete series of the first edition,
excepting one,) which are printed with the greatest clearness and
brilliancy of effect, on one side of the paper only; each cut having
over it its title, printed in the German language with moveable type. It
is possible that they may originally have had verses underneath, and
texts of Scripture above, in addition to the titles just mentioned: but
as the margins are clipped on the sides and at bottom, it is now
impossible to ascertain the fact.”[VI-12]

    [Footnote VI-12: Inquiry into the Origin and Early History of
    Engraving, vol. ii. p. 762.]

Had the forty impressions in question been accompanied with verses and
texts of Scripture, they certainly might be considered as having
belonged to an earlier edition of the work than that of 1538, and for
the existence of which Mr. Ottley has referred to the testimony of
Jansen and the editor of the Notices sur les Graveurs, printed at
Besançon. There is, however, a set of those cuts preserved in the public
library at Basle, which seems clearly to prove that they had only been
taken as specimens without any further accompaniment than the titles.
They are printed on four folio leaves, on only one side of the paper,
and there are ten cuts on each page; the title, in the German language,
and in Italic type, like Mr. Ottley’s, is printed above each; and the
same cut--that of the astrologer--is also wanting. From these
circumstances there can scarcely be a doubt that the set formerly
belonging to Mr. Ottley[VI-13] had been printed in the same manner, and
that each impression had subsequently been cut out, perhaps for the
purpose of mounting them singly. The following are the titles given to
those cuts, and to each is subjoined a literal translation. They are
numbered as they follow each other in LES SIMULACHRES ET HISTORIEES
FACES DE LA MORT, 1538, which perhaps may not be incorrectly expressed
by the English title, “Pictorial and Historical Portraits of Death.”

    [Footnote VI-13: Those cuts, with that of the astrologer and five
    others, supplied from a later edition, were bought, at the sale of
    Mr. Ottley’s prints, in 1837, for the British Museum, for £37
    10_s._ In the catalogue, which, I understand, was chiefly drawn up
    from his own memoranda, they are thus described, under the head
    impressions, printed (probably at Basle, about 1530,) upon one
    side only, with German titles at the top in type; supposed to be
    UNIQUE.” That they were printed in 1530 is highly _improbable_,
    and they certainly are NOT _unique_.]

  1. _Die schöpfung aller ding_--The creation of all things.
  2. _Adam Eua im Paradyſs_--Adam and Eve in Paradise.
  3. _Vertribung Ade Eue_--The driving out of Adam and Eve.
  4. _Adam baugt die erden_--Adam cultivates the earth.
  5. _Gebeyn aller menschen_--Skeletons of all men.
  6. _Der Papst_--The Pope.
  7. _Der Keyser_--The Emperor.
  8. _Der Künig_--The King.
  9. _Der Cardinal_--The Cardinal.
  10. _Die Keyserinn._--The Empress.
  11. _Die Küniginn_--The Queen.
  12. _Der Bischoff_--The Bishop.
  13. _Der Hertzog_--The Duke.
  14. _Der Apt_--The Abbot.
  15. _Die Aptissinn_--The Abbess.
  16. _Der Edelman_--The Nobleman.
  17. _Der Thümherr_--The Canon.
  18. _Der Richter_--The Judge.
  19. _Der Fürspräch_--The Advocate.
  20. _Der Rahtsherr_--The Magistrate.
  21. _Der Predicant_--The Preaching Friar.
  22. _Der Pfarrherr_--The Parish-priest.
  23. _Der Münch_--The Monk.
  24. _Die Nunne_--The Nun.
  25. _Dass Altweyb_--The Old Woman.
  26. _Der Artzet_--The Doctor.
  27. (Wanting in the specimens.) The Astrologer.
  28. _Der Rychman_--The Rich Man.
  29. _Der Kauffman_--The Merchant.
  30. _Der Schiffman_--The Sailor.
  31. _Der Ritter_--The Knight.
  32. _Der Graff_--The Count.
  33. _Der Alt man_--The Old Man.
  34. _Die Greffinn_--The Countess.
  35. _Die Edelfraw_--The Lady.
  36. _Die Hertzoginn_--The Duchess.
  37. _Der Krämer_--The Pedlar.
  38. _Der Ackerman_--The Farmer.
  39. _Das Jung Kint_--The Young Child.
  40. _Das Jüngst Gericht_--The Last Judgment.
  41. _Die Wapen des Thots_--Death’s coat-of-arms.

In 1542 a second edition of the Dance of Death, with the same cuts as
the first, was published at Lyons, “Soubz l’escu de Coloigne,” by John
and Francis Frellon, who appear to have succeeded to the business of the
brothers Trechsel,--if, indeed, the latter were not merely the printers
of the first edition. In a third edition, with the title Imagines
Mortis, 1545, the verses underneath each cut are in Latin.[VI-14] A cut
of a lame beggar, which has no relation to the Dance of Death, is
introduced as a tail-piece to one of the discourses on death--Cypriani
Sermo de Mortalitate--at the end of the volume; but it is neither
designed nor executed in the same style as the others.

    [Footnote VI-14: The French verses were translated into Latin by
    George Æmylius, “an eminent German divine of Mansfelt,” says Mr.
    Douce, “and the author of many pious works.”]

In a fourth edition, with the title “Imagines Mortis,”[VI-15] 1547,
eleven additional cuts are introduced; namely: 1. Death fighting with a
soldier in Swiss costume; 2. Gamblers, with a figure of Death, and
another of the Devil; 3. Drunkards, with a figure of Death; 4. The Fool,
with a figure of Death playing on the bagpipes; 5. The Robber seized by
Death; 6. The Blind Man and Death; 7. The Waggoner and Death;
8. Children, one of whom is borne on the shoulders of the others as a
conqueror triumphing; 9. A child with a shield and dart; 10. Three
children; one riding on an arrow, another on a bow, as on a hobby-horse,
the third carrying a hare over his shoulder, suspended from a hunting
pole; 11. Children as Bacchanalians. The last four subjects have no
relation to a Dance of Death, but have evidently been introduced merely
to increase the number of the cuts; they are, however, beautifully
designed and well engraved. This edition contains twelve more cuts,
reckoning the tail-piece of the Lame Beggar, than the first. Another
edition, forming the fifth, was also published in 1547 under the title
of “Les Images de la Mort,” with French verses, as in the edition of
1538. The number of cuts is the same as in the edition of 1547 with
Latin verses, and the title “Imagines Mortis,” or “Icones Mortis.”

    [Footnote VI-15: Some copies have the title “Icones Mortis;” and
    though they correspond in every other respect with those of the
    same year, intitled Imagines Mortis, Mr. Douce seems to consider
    that this trifling variation is a sufficient ground for describing
    them as different editions.]

In 1549, a sixth edition, with the same number of cuts as the last, was
published, under the title of “Simolachri, Historie, e Figure de la
Morte,” with the letter-press in Italian, with the exception of the
texts of Scripture, which were in Latin, as in the others. In the
preface, John Frellon--whose name appears alone in the edition of 1547,
and in those of subsequent years--complains of a piracy of the book,
which was printed at Venice in 1545, with fac-similes of the cuts of the
first edition. “Frellon, by way of revenge,” says Mr. Douce, “and to
save the trouble of making a new translation of the articles that
compose the volume, made use of that of his Italian competitor.”[VI-16]
A seventh edition, with the title “Icones Mortis,” and containing
fifty-three cuts, appeared, without any printer’s name, in 1554.

    [Footnote VI-16: Dance of Death, p. 107, edit. 1833 (Bohn’s
    edition, p. 95). It is stated in the Italian piracy that it was
    printed “_Con gratia e privilegio de l’Illustriss. Senato
    Vinitiano, per anni dieci. Appresso Vincenzo Vaugris, al Segno
    d’Erasmo._ MDXLV.”]

In an eighth edition, 1562, with the title “Les Images de la Mort,
auxquelles sont adjoustees dix-sept figures,” five additional cuts are
introduced, thus making seventeen more than are contained in the first.
The total number of cuts in the edition of 1562 is fifty-eight; and that
of the Lame Beggar, which first appeared as a tail-piece in the edition
of 1545, has now a place among the others in the body of the book. The
subjects of the five new cuts are: 1. The Husband, with a figure of
Death; 2. The Wife,--Death leading a young woman by the hand, preceded
by a young man playing on a kind of guitar; 3. Children as part of a
triumph, one of them as a warrior on horseback; 4. Three children; one
with a trophy of armour, another carrying a vase and a shield, the third
seated naked on the ground; 5. Children with musical instruments. The
subjects of children are designed and executed in the same style as
those first introduced in the edition of 1547. The last of those five
new cuts does not appear in regular order with the other fifty-seven;
but is given as a tail-piece at the end of a preface to a devotional
tract--La Medicine de l’Ame--in the latter part of the book. Mr. Douce
mentions another edition with the date 1574. He, however, observes in a
note: “This edition is given on the authority of Peignot,[VI-17] page
62, but has not been seen by the author of this work. In the year 1547
there were three editions, and it is not improbable that, by the
transposition of the two last figures, one of these might have been
intended.” As one of Mr. Douce’s _three_ editions of 1547 differs only
from another of the same date by having “_Icones_” instead of
“_Imagines_” in the title-page, he might as consistently have claimed a
fourth for the same year on the ground of a _probable_ transposition of
74 for 47. All the authentic editions of the “Dance of Death,”
previously noticed, were published at Lyons. The first, as has been
already observed, was in small quarto; the others are described by Mr.
Douce as being in duodecimo. In a Dutch Dance of Death, intitled “De
Doodt vermaskert met swerelts ydelheit,” duodecimo, Antwerp, 1654,
fourteen of the cuts, according to Mr. Douce, were from the original
blocks which had been used in the Lyons editions.

    [Footnote VI-17: Author of the work intitled, “Recherches sur les
    Danses des Morts.” Dijon et Paris, 1826.]

It seems probable that the earliest copies of the cuts in “Les
Simulachres et Historiées Faces de la Mort,” or Dance of Death, as the
work is more frequently called, appeared in a small folio, intitled
“Todtentantz,” printed at Augsburg in 1544, by “_Jobst Denecker,
Formschneyder_.” As I have never seen a copy of this edition, I take the
liberty of extracting the following notice of it from Mr. Douce: “This
edition is not only valuable from its extreme rarity, but for the very
accurate and spirited manner in which the fine original cuts are copied.
It contains all the subjects that were then published, but not arranged
as those had been. It has the addition of one singular print, intitled,
‘Der Eebrecher,’ _i. e._ the Adulterer, representing a man discovering
the adulterer in bed with his wife, and plunging his sword through both
of them, Death guiding his hands. On the opposite page to each engraving
there is a dialogue between Death and the party, and at bottom a Latin
hexameter. The subject of the Pleader has the unknown mark [Symbol] and
on that of the Duchess in bed, there is the date 1542.”[VI-18] Mr. Douce
is of opinion that the “_Jobst Denecker, Formschneyder_,” who appears as
the printer, was the same person as Jobst or Jost de Negker, the wood
engraver whose name is at the back of one of the cuts of the Triumphal
Procession of Maximilian.--The next copy of the work is that intitled
“Simolachri, Historie, e Figure de la Morte,” Venice, 1545, the piracy
complained of by Frellon in his Italian edition of 1549. It contains
forty-one cuts, as in the first Lyons edition of 1538. There is no
variation in the figures; but the expression of the faces is frequently
lost, and the general execution of the whole is greatly inferior to that
of the originals. Another edition, in Latin, was published in 1546; and
Mr. Douce says that there are impressions of the cuts on single sheets,
at the bottom of one of which is the date 1568.--In 1555, an edition
with the title “Imagines Mortis,” with fifty-three cuts, similar to
those in the Lyons edition of 1547, was published at Cologne by the
heirs of Arnold Birkman, Cologne, 1555; and there are four other
editions of the same work, respectively dated 1557, 1566, 1567, and
1572. Alterations are made in some of those cuts; in five of them the
mark [[SA]] is introduced; and in the cut of the Duchess the mark
[Symbol], seen on the bed-frame in the original, is omitted. All the
alterations are for the worse; some of the figures seem like caricatures
of the originals; and the cuts generally are, in point of execution,
very inferior to those in the Lyons editions. The name of the artist
to whom the mark [[SA]] belongs is unknown. In the preface to the
Emblems of Mortality, page xx, the writer says it is “that of SILVIUS
ANTONIANUS, an artist of considerable merit.” This, however, is merely
one of the blunders of Papillon, who, according to Mr. Douce, has
converted the owner of this mark into a cardinal. Papillon, it
would seem, had observed it on the cuts of an edition of Faerno’s
Fables--printed at Antwerp, 1567, and dedicated to Cardinal Borromeo
by Silvio Antoniano, professor of Belles Lettres at Rome, afterwards
a cardinal himself--and without hesitation he concluded that the editor
was the engraver.[VI-19] The last of the editions published in the
sixteenth century with wood-cuts copied from the Lyons work, appeared
at Wittemberg in 1590.

    [Footnote VI-18: Dance of Death, p. 118. Edit. 1833.]

    [Footnote VI-19: Mr. Douce gives another amusing instance of
    Papillon’s sagacity in assigning marks and names to their proper
    owners. “He (Papillon) had seen an edition of the Emblems of
    Sambucus with cuts, bearing the mark [[SA]], in which there is a
    fine portrait of the author with his favourite dog, and under the
    latter the word BOMBO, which Papillon gravely states to be the
    name of the engraver; and finding the same word on another of the
    emblems, which has also the dog, he concludes that all the cuts
    which have not the [[SA]] were engraved by the same BOMBO.”--Dance
    of Death, p. 114, 1833. Those blunders of Papillon are to be found
    in his Traité Historique et Pratique de la Gravure en Bois, tom.
    i. pp. 238 et 525.]

Various editions of the Dance of Death, with copper-plate engravings
generally copied from the work published at Lyons, are enumerated by Mr.
Douce, but only one of them seems to require notice here. Between 1647
and 1651 Hollar etched thirty subjects from the Dance of Death,
introducing occasionally a few alterations. From a careful examination
of those etchings, I am inclined to think that most of them were copied
not from the cuts in any of the Lyons editions, but from those in the
edition published by the heirs of Birkman at Cologne. The original
copper-plates of Hollar’s thirty etchings having come into the
possession of Mr. James Edwards, formerly a bookseller in Pall-Mall, he
published an edition in duodecimo, without date, but about 1794,[VI-20]
with preliminary observations on the Dance of Death, written by the late
Mr. F. Douce. Those preliminary observations are the germ of Mr. Douce’s
beautiful and more complete volume, published by W. Pickering in 1833
(and republished with additions by Mr. Bohn in 1858). As Petrarch’s
amatory sonnets and poems have been called “a labour of Love,” with
equal propriety may Mr. Douce’s last work be intitled “a labour of
Death.” Scarcely a cut or an engraving that contains even a death’s head
and cross-bones appears to have escaped his notice. Incorporated is a
_Catalogue raisonné_ which contains an enumeration of all the
tomb-stones in England and Wales that are ornamented with those standard
“Emblems of Mortality,”--skull, thigh-bones in saltire, and hour-glass.
In his last “Opus Magnum Mortis,” the notices of the several Dances of
Death in various parts of Europe are very much enlarged, but he has not
been able to adduce any further arguments or evidences beyond what
appeared in his first essay, to show that the cuts in the original
edition of the Dance of Death, published at Lyons, were not designed by
Holbein. Throughout the work there are undeniable proofs of the
diligence of the collector; but no evidences of a mind that could make
them available to a useful end. He is at once sceptical and credulous;
he denies that any poet of the name of Macaber ever lived; and yet he
believes, on the sole authority of one T. Nieuhoff Picard, whose
existence is as doubtful as Macaber’s, that Holbein painted a Dance of
Death as large as life, in fresco, in the old palace at Whitehall.

    [Footnote VI-20: Mr. Douce himself says, “about 1794.” A copy in
    the British Museum, formerly belonging to the late Reverend C. M.
    Cracherode, has, however, that gentleman’s usual mark, and the
    date 1793.]

Having now given a list of all the authentic editions of the Dance of
Death and of the principal copies of it, I shall next, before saying
anything about the supposed designer or engraver, lay before the reader
a few specimens of the original cuts. Mr. Douce observes, of the
forty-nine cuts given in his Dance of Death, 1833, that “they may be
very justly regarded as scarcely distinguishable from their fine
originals.” Now, without any intention of depreciating these clever
copies, I must pronounce them inferior to the originals, especially in
the heads and hands. In this respect the wood-cuts of the first Lyons
edition of the Dance of Death are unrivalled by any other productions of
the art of wood engraving, either in past or present times. In the
present day, when mere delicacy of cutting in the modern French taste is
often mistaken for good engraving, there are doubtless many admirers of
the art who fancy that there would be no difficulty in finding a wood
engraver who might be fully competent to accurately copy the originals
in the first edition of the Dance of Death. The experiment, however,
would probably convince the undertaker of such a task, whoever he might
be, that he had in this instance over-rated his abilities. Let the heads
in the Lyons cuts, and those of any copies of them, old or recent, be
examined with a magnifying glass, and the excellence of the former will
appear still more decidedly than when viewed with the naked eye.

The following cut is a copy of the same size as the original, which is
the second of the Dance of Death, of the edition of 1538. The subject is
Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit; and in the series of early
impressions, formerly Mr. Ottley’s, but now in the Print Room of the
British Museum, it is intitled “_Adam Eva im Paradyss_”--Adam and Eve in
Paradise. The serpent, as in many other old engravings, as well as in
paintings, is represented with a human face. In order to convey an idea
of the original page, this cut is accompanied with its explanatory text
and verses printed in similar type.

  Quia audiſti vocem vxoris tuæ, & comediſti
    de ligno ex quo preceperam tibi ne comederes &c.



  _ADAM_ fut par _EVE_ deceu
  Et contre _DIEV_ mangea la pomm
  Dont tous deux out la Mort receu,
  Et depuis fut mortel tout homme.

In the two first cuts, which represent the Creation of Eve, and Adam
taking the forbidden fruit, the figure of Death is not seen. In the
third, Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise, Death, playing on a kind of
lyre, is seen preceding them; and in the fourth, Adam cultivating the
earth, Death is perceived assisting him in his labour. In the fifth,
intitled _Gebeyn aller menschen_--Skeletons of all men--in the early
impressions of the cuts, formerly belonging to Mr. Ottley, but now in
the British Museum, all the figures are skeletons; one of them is seen
beating a pair of kettle drums, while others are sounding trumpets, as
if rejoicing in the power which had been given to Death in consequence
of the fall of man. The texts above this cut are, “Væ væ væ habitantibus
in terra. APOCALYPSIS VIII;” and “Cuncta in quibus spiraculum vitæ est,
mortua sunt. GENESIS VII.” In the sixth cut there are two figures of
Death,--one grinning at the pope as he bestows the crown on a kneeling
emperor, and the other, wearing a cardinal’s hat, as a witness of the
ceremony. In the thirty-sixth cut, the Duchess, there are two figures of
Death introduced, and there are also two in the thirty-seventh, the
Pedlar; but in all the others of this edition, from the seventh to the
thirty-ninth, inclusive, there is only a single figure of Death, and in
every instance his action and expression are highly comic, most
distinctly evincing that man’s destruction is his sport. In the fortieth
cut there is no figure of Death; the Deity seated on a rainbow, with his
feet resting on the globe, is seen pronouncing final judgment on the
human race. The forty-first, and last cut of the original edition,
represents Death’s coat-of-arms----_Die wapen des Thots_. On an
escutcheon, which is rent in several places, is a death’s-head, with
something like a large worm proceeding from the mouth; above the
escutcheon, a barred helmet, seen in front like that of a sovereign
prince, is probably intended to represent the power of Death; the crest
is a pair of fleshless arms holding something like a large stone
immediately above an hour-glass; on the dexter side of the escutcheon
stands a gentleman, who seems to be calling the attention of the
spectator to this memento of Death, and on the opposite side is a lady;
in the distance are Alpine mountains, the top of the highest partly
shaded by a cloud. The appropriate text is, “Memorare novissima, et in
æternum non peccabis. ECCLE. VII;” and the following are the verses

  “Si tu veulx vivre sans peché
  Voy ceste imaige a tous propos,
  Et point ne seras empesché
  Quand tu t’en iras en repos.”


The total number of cuts of the first edition in which Death is seen
attending on men and women of all ranks and conditions, mocking them,
seizing them, slaying them, or merrily leading them to their end, is

  Spiritus meus attenuabitur, dies mihi bre-
    viabuntur, & ſolum mihi ſupereſt ſepul-



  Mes eſperitz ſont attendriz,
  Et ma uie ſ’en ua tout beau.
  Las mes longz iours ſont amoindriz
  Plus ne me reſte qu’un tombeau.]

The above cut is a copy of the thirty-third, the Old Man--_Der Alt
man_--whom Death leads in confiding imbecility to the grave, while he
pretends to support him and to amuse him with the music of a dulcimer.
The text and verses are given as they stand in the original.

The following cut is a copy of the thirty-sixth, the Duchess--_Die
Hertzoginn_. In this cut, as has been previously observed, there are two
figures of Death; one rouses her from the bed--where she appears to have
been indulging in an afternoon nap--by pulling off the coverlet, while
the other treats her to a tune on the violin. On the frame of the bed,
or couch, to the left, near the bottom of the cut, is seen the mark
[[HL]], which has not a little increased the difficulty of arriving at
any clear and unquestionable conclusion with respect to the designer or
engraver of those cuts. The text and the verses are given literally, as
in the two preceding specimens.

  De lectulo ſuper quem aſcendi-
    ſti non deſcendes, ſed morte

  _III REG. I_


  Du lict ſus lequel as monté
  Ne deſcendras a ton plaiſir.
  Car Mort t’aura tantoſt dompté,
  Et en brief te uiendra ſaiſir.]

The following cut, the Child--_Das Iung Kint_--is a copy of the
thirty-ninth, and the last but two in the original edition. Death having
been represented in the preceding cuts as beguiling men and women in
court and council-chamber, in bed-room and hall, in street and field, by
sea and by land, is here represented as visiting the dilapidated cottage
of the poor, and, while the mother is engaged in cooking, seizing her
youngest child.

  Homo natus de muliere, brevi vivens tempore
    repletur multis miſeriis, qui quaſi flos egre-
    ditur, & conteritur, & fugit velut umbra.



  Tout homme de la femme yſſant
  Remply de miſere, & d’encombre,
  Ainſi que fleur toſt finiſſant,
  Sort & puis fuyt comme faict l’umbre.]

The cut of the Waggon overturned, from which the following is copied,
first appeared with ten others in the edition of 1547. From an
inspection of this cut, which most probably is that mentioned as being
left unfinished, in the prefatory address to Madame Jehanne de Touszele
in the first edition, 1538, it will be perceived that the description
which is there given of it is not correct, and hence arises a doubt if
the writer had actually seen it. He describes the driver as knocked
down, and lying bruised under his broken waggon, and he says that the
figure of Death is perceived roguishly sucking the wine out of a broken
cask by means of a reed.[VI-21] In the cut itself, however, the waggoner
is seen standing, wringing his hands as if in despair on account of the
accident, and a figure of Death,--for there are two in this
cut,--instead of sucking the wine, appears to be engaged in undoing the
rope or chain by which the cask is secured to the waggon. A second
figure of Death is perceived carrying off one of the waggon-wheels. In
this cut the subject is not so well treated as in most of those in the
edition of 1538; and it is also not so well engraved.--The text and
verses annexed are from the edition of 1562.

    [Footnote VI-21: Mr. Douce, when correcting the mistake of the
    writer of the address, commits an error himself. He says that
    “Death is in the act of untwisting the _fastening to one of the
    hoops_.” Now, it is very evident that he is undoing the rope or
    chain that steadies the cask and confines it to the waggon. He has
    hold of the stake or piece of wood, which serves as a +twitch+ to
    tighten the rope or chain, in the manner in which large timber is
    secured to the waggon in the present day.]

  Il cheut en son chariot.

  I. _ROIS_ IX.


  Au passage de MORT perverse
  Raison, Chartier tout esperdu,
  Du corps le char, & chevaux verse,
  Le vin (sang de vie) esperdu.]

Of the eleven additional cuts inserted in the edition of 1547, there are
four of children, which, as has already been observed in page 334, have
not the slightest connexion with the Dance of Death. The following is a
copy of one of them. The editor seems to have found no difficulty in
providing the subject with a text; and it serves as a peg to hang a
quatrain on as well as the others which contain personifications of

  Il sera percé de sagettes.

  _EXOD. XIX._


  L’eage du sens, du sang l’ardeur
  Est legier dard, & foible escu
  Contre MORT, qui un tel dardeur
  De son propre dard rend vaincu.]

In the edition of 1562 five more cuts are inserted; but two of them
only--the Bridegroom and the Bride--have relation to the Dance of Death;
the other three are of a similar character to the four cuts of children
first inserted in the edition of 1547. All the seven cuts of children
have been evidently designed by the same person. They are well engraved,
but not in so masterly a style as the forty-one cuts of the original
edition. The following is a copy of one of the three which were inserted
in the edition of 1562.

  Il partira les despoilles avec les puissans.



  Pour les victoires triumphées
  Sur les plus forts des humains cœurs,
  Les despoilles dresse en trophées
  La MORT vaincresse des vainqueurs.]

Having now given what, perhaps, may be considered a sufficiently ample
account of the Lyons Dance of Death, it next appears necessary to make
some enquiries respecting the designer of the cuts. Until the
publication of Mr. Douce’s observations, prefixed to the edition of
Hollar’s etchings from those cuts, by Edwards, about 1794, scarcely any
writer who mentions them seems to entertain a doubt of their having been
designed by Holbein; and Papillon, in his usual manner, claims him as a
wood engraver, and unhesitatingly declares that not only the cuts of the
Lyons Dance of Death, but all the other cuts which are generally
supposed to have been of his designing, were engraved by himself. Mr.
Douce’s arguments are almost entirely negative,--for he produces no
satisfactory evidence to show that those cuts were certainly designed by
some other artist,--and they are chiefly founded on the passage in the
first Lyons edition, where the writer speaks of the death of the person
“qui nous en a icy imaginé si elegantes figures.”

The sum of Mr. Douce’s objections to Holbein being the designer of the
cuts in question is as follows. “The singularity of this curious and
interesting dedication is deserving of the utmost attention. It seems
very strongly, if not decisively, to point out the edition to which it
is prefixed, as the first; and what is of still more importance, to
deprive Holbein of any claim to the invention of the work. It most
certainly uses such terms of art as can scarcely be mistaken as
conveying any other sense than that of originality of design. There
cannot be words of plainer import than those which describe the painter,
as he is expressly called, _delineating_ the subjects and leaving
several of them unfinished: and whoever the artist might have been, it
clearly appears that he was not living in 1538. Now, it is well known
that Holbein’s death did not take place before the year 1554, during the
plague which ravaged London at that time. If then the expressions used
in this dedication signify anything, it may surely be asked what becomes
of any claim on the part of Holbein to the designs of the work in
question, or does it not _at least_ remain in a situation of doubt and
difficulty?”[VI-22] With respect to the true import of the passage
referred to, my opinion is almost directly the reverse of that expressed
by Mr. Douce.

    [Footnote VI-22: Dance of Death, p. 88. Edit. 1833 (Bohn’s edit.
    1858, p. 77.)]

What the writer of the address to Madame Jehanne de Touszele, in the
Lyons edition of 1538, says respecting the unfinished cuts, taken all
together, seems to relate more properly to the engraver than the
designer; more especially when we find that a cut--that of the
Waggoner,--expressly noticed by him as being then unfinished, was given
with others of a similar character in a subsequent edition.

From the incorrect manner in which the cut of the Waggoner is described,
I am very much inclined to think that the writer had neither seen the
original nor the other subjects already traced--the “_plusieurs aultres
figures jà par luy trassées_”--of whose “bold drawing, perspectives, and
shadows,” he speaks in such terms of admiration. If the writer knew
little of the process of wood engraving, he would be very likely to
commit the mistake of supposing that the engraver was also the designer
of the cuts. Though I consider it by no means unlikely that the engraver
might have been dead before the publication of the first edition, yet I
am very much inclined to believe that the passage in which the cuts are
mentioned is purposely involved in obscurity: the writer, while he
speaks of the deceased artist in terms of the highest commendation, at
the same time carefully conceals his name. If the account in the preface
be admitted as correct, it would appear that the cuts were both designed
and engraved by the same person, and that those already drawn on the
block[VI-23] remained unfinished in consequence of his decease; for if
he were _not_ the engraver, what prevented the execution of the other
subjects already traced, and of which the bold drawing, perspective, and
shadows, all so gracefully delineated, are distinctly mentioned? The
engraver, whoever he might be, was certainly not only the best of his
age, but continues unsurpassed to the present day, and I am satisfied
that such precision of line as is seen in the heads could only be
acquired by great practice. The designs are so excellent in drawing and
composition, and so admirably are the different characters
represented,--with such spirit, humour, and appropriate
expression,--that to have produced them would confer additional honour
on even the greatest painters of that or any other period. Are we then
to suppose that those excellencies of design and of engraving were
combined in an obscure individual whose name is not to be found in the
roll of fame, who lived comparatively unknown, and whose death is only
incidentally noticed in an ambiguous preface written by a nameless
pedant, and professedly addressed to an abbess whose very existence is
questionable?[VI-24] Such a supposition I conceive to be in the highest
degree improbable; and, on the contrary, I am perfectly satisfied that
the cuts in question were _not_ designed and engraved by the same
person. Furthermore, admitting the address to Madame Jehanne de Touszele
to be written in good faith, I am firmly of opinion that the person
whose death is there mentioned, was the engraver, and not the designer
of the cuts of the first edition.

    [Footnote VI-23: The words “_jà par luy trassées_” will apply more
    properly to drawings already made on the block, but unengraved,
    than to unfinished drawings on paper. It is indeed almost certain
    that the writer meant the former, for their “_audacieux traicts,
    perspectives, et umbrages_” are mentioned; they were moreover
    “_gracieusement deliniées_.” These expressions will apply
    correctly to a finished, though unengraved design on the block,
    but scarcely to an unfinished drawing on paper.]

    [Footnote VI-24: I am very much inclined to think that Madame
    Jehanne de Touszele is a fictitious character. I have had no
    opportunities of learning if such a person were really abbess of
    the Convent of St. Peter at Lyons in 1538, and must therefore
    leave this point to be decided by some other enquirer.]

The mark [[HL]] in the cut of the Duchess, is certainly not Holbein’s;
and Mr. Douce says, “that it was intended to express the name of the
designer, cannot be supported by evidence of any kind.” That it is not
the mark of the designer, I agree with Mr. Douce, but my conclusion is
drawn from premises directly the reverse of his; for had I not found
evidence elsewhere to convince me that this mark can only be that of the
engraver, I should most certainly have concluded that it was intended
for the mark of the designer. In direct opposition to what Mr. Douce
here says, up to the time of the publication of the Lyons Dance of
Death, the mark on wood-cuts is most frequently that of the designer,
and whenever that of the engraver appears, it is as an exception to the
general custom. It is, in fact, upon the evidence of the mark alone that
the greater part of the wood-cut designs of Durer, Cranach, Burgmair,
Behaim, Baldung, Grün, and other old masters, are respectively ascribed
to them. The cuts of the Triumphal Procession of Maximilian with Hans
Burgmair’s mark in front, and the names of the engravers written at the
back of the blocks, may serve as an illustration of the general
practice, which is directly the reverse of Mr. Douce’s opinion. If the
weight of probability be not on the opposite side, the mark in question
ought certainly, according to the usual practice of the period, to be
considered as that of the designer.

In a subsequent page of the same chapter, Mr. Douce most inconsistently
says, “There is an unfortunate ambiguity connected with the marks that
are found on ancient engravings on wood, and it has been a _very great
error_ on the part of all the writers who treat on such engravings, in
referring the marks that accompany them to the block-cutters, or as the
Germans properly denominate them the _formschneiders_, whilst, perhaps,
the greatest part of them really belong to the designers.” He commits
in the early part of the chapter the very error which he ascribes to
others. According to his own principles, as expressed in the last
extract, he was bound to allow the mark [[HL]] to be that of the
designer until he could show on probable grounds that it was not. But
though Mr. Douce might deny that Holbein were the designer of those
cuts, it seems that he durst not venture to follow up the line of his
argument, and declare that Hans Lutzelburger _was_ the designer, which
he certainly might have done with at least as much reason as has
led him to decide that Holbein _was not_. But he prudently abstained
from venturing on such an affirmation, the improbability of which,
notwithstanding the mark, might have led his readers to inquire, how
it happened that so talented an artist should have remained so long
undiscovered, and that even his contemporaries should not have known
him as the designer of those subjects.

Though I am satisfied that the mark [[HL]] is that of the _engraver_ of
the cuts in the first edition of the Lyons Dance of Death, I by no means
pretend to account for its appearing alone--thus forming an exception to
the general rule--without the mark of the designer, and without any
mention of his name either in the title or preface to the book. We have
no knowledge of the connexion in the way of business between the working
wood engravers and the designers of that period; but there seems reason
to believe that the former sometimes got drawings made at their own
expense and risk, and, when engraved, either published them on their own
account, or disposed of them to booksellers and printers. It is also to
be observed that about the time of the publication of the first Lyons
edition of the Dance of Death, or a few years before, wood engravers
began to occasionally introduce their name or mark into the cut, in
addition to that of the designer. A cut, in a German translation of
Cicero de Officiis, Frankfort, 1538, contains two marks; one of them
being that of Hans Sebald Behaim, and the other, the letters H. W.,
which I take to be that of the engraver. At a later period this practice
became more frequent, and a considerable number of wood-cuts executed
between 1540 and 1580 contain two marks; one of the designer, and the
other of the engraver: in wood-cuts designed by Virgil Solis in
particular, double marks are of frequent occurrence. As it seems evident
that the publishers of the Lyons Dance of Death were desirous of
concealing the name of the designer, and as it appears likely that they
had purchased the cuts ready engraved from a Swiss or a German,--for the
designs are certainly not French,--it surely cannot be surprising that
he should wish to affix his mark to those most admirable specimens of
art. Moreover, if those cuts were not executed under the personal
superintendence of the designer, but when he was chiefly resident in a
distant country, the engraver would thus have the uncontrolled liberty
of inserting his own mark; and more especially, if those cuts were a
private speculation of his own, and not executed for a publisher who had
employed an artist to make the designs. Another reason, perhaps equally
us good as any of the foregoing, might be suggested; as those cuts are
decidedly the best executed of any of that period, the designer--even if
he had opportunities of seeing the proofs--might have permitted the mark
of the engraver to appear on one of them, in approbation of his talent.

This mark, [[HL]], was first assigned to a wood engraver named Hans
Lutzelburger, by M. Christian von Mechel, a celebrated engraver of
Basle, who in 1780 published forty-five copper-plate engravings of a
Dance of Death from drawings said to be by Holbein, and which almost
in every respect agree with the corresponding cuts in the Lyons work,
though of greater size.[VI-25] M. Mechel’s conjecture respecting the
engraver of those cuts appears to have been first published in the
sixteenth volume of Von Murr’s Journal; but though I am inclined to
think that he is correct, it has not been satisfactorily shown that
Hans Lutzelburger ever used the mark [[HL]]. He, however, lived at that
period, and it is almost certain that he executed an alphabet of small
initial letters representing a Dance of Death, which appear to have been
first used at Basle by the printers Bebelius and Cratander about 1530.
We give (on the following page) the entire series. He is also supposed
to have engraved two other alphabets of ornamental initial letters, one
representing a dance of peasants, “intermixed,” says Mr. Douce, “with
other subjects, some of which are not of the most delicate nature;” the
other representing groups of children in various playful attitudes.
All those three alphabets are generally described by German and Swiss
writers on art as having been designed by Holbein; and few impartial
persons I conceive can have much doubt on the subject, if almost perfect
identity between most of the figures and those in his known productions
be allowed to have any weight.

    [Footnote VI-25: Mechel’s work is in folio, with four subjects on
    each full page, and is entitled “Oeuvre de Jean Holbein, ou
    Receuil de Gravures d’après ses plus beaux ouvrages, &c. Première
    Partie. La Triomphe de Mort.” It is dedicated to George III, and
    the presentation copy is in the King’s Library at the British
    Museum. The first part contains, besides forty-five subjects of
    the Dance of Death, the design for the sheath of a dagger from a
    drawing ascribed to Holbein, which has been re-engraved in the
    work of Mr. Douce. It is extremely doubtful if the drawings of the
    Dance, from which Mechel’s engravings are copied, be really by
    Holbein. They were purchased by M. Fleischmann of Strasburg, at
    Crozat’s sale at Paris in 1741. It was stated in the catalogue
    that they had formed part of the Arundelian collection, and that
    they had afterwards come into the possession of Jan Bockhorst,
    commonly called Lang Jan, a contemporary of Vandyke. This piece of
    information, however, can only be received as an auctioneer’s
    puff. M. Mechel himself, according to Mr. Douce, had not been able
    to trace those drawings previously to their falling into the hands
    of Monsieur Crozat. They were purchased of M. Fleischmann by
    Prince Gallitzin, a Russian nobleman, by whom they were lent to
    M. Mechel. They are now in the Imperial Library at Petersburg.
    According to Mr. Coxe, who saw them when in M. Mechel’s
    possession, they were drawn with a pen, and slightly shaded with
    Indian ink. Hegner, in his Life of Holbein, speaks slightingly of
    Mechel’s engravings, which he says were executed by one of his
    workmen from copies of the pretended original drawings made by an
    artist named Rudolph Schellenburg of Winterthur. Those
    copper-plates certainly appear feeble when compared with the
    wood-cut in the Lyons work, and Hegner’s criticism on the figure
    of Eve seems just, though Mr. Douce does not approve of it. Hegner
    says, “Let any one compare the figure of Eve under the tree in
    Mechel’s second plate with the second wood-cut; in the former she
    is sitting in as elegant an attitude as if she belonged to a
    French family by Boucher.”--Boucher, a French painter, who died in
    1770, was famous in his time for the pretty women introduced into
    his landscapes.]


There is a set of proofs of the alphabet of the Dance of Death, printed
on one sheet, preserved in the Public Library at Basle, and underneath
is printed in moveable letters the name +HAnns Lützelburger
formschnider, genannt Franck+,--that is, “Hanns Lutzelburger, wood
engraver, named Franck.” The first H is an ornamented Roman capital; the
other letters of the name are in the German character. The size of the
cuts in this alphabet of the Dance of Death is one inch by
seven-eighths. The reason for supposing that Hans Lutzelburger was the
engraver of the cuts in the first edition of the Lyons Dance of Death
are: 1. The similarity of style between the latter and those of the
Basle alphabet of the same subject; and 2. The correspondence of the
mark in the cut of the Duchess with the initial letters of the name
H[ans] L[utzelburger], and the fact of his being a wood engraver of that
period. Mr. Douce, in the seventh chapter of his work, professes to
examine the “claim of Hans Lutzelburger as to the design or execution of
the Lyons engravings of the Dance of Death,” but his investigations seem
very unsatisfactory; and his chapter is one of those “in which,” as
Fielding says, “nothing is concluded.” He gives no opinion as to whether
Lutzelburger was the designer of the Lyons cuts or not, though this is
one of the professed topics of his investigation; and even his opinion,
for the time being, as to the engraver, only appears in the heading of
the following chapter, where it is thus announced: “_List of several
editions of the Lyons work on the Dance of Death, with the mark of
Lutzenburger_.”[VI-26] His mind, however, does not appear to have been
finally made up on this point; for in a subsequent page, 215, speaking
of the mark [[HL]] in the cut of the Duchess, which he had previously
mentioned as that of Hans Lutzelburger, he says, “_but to whomsoever
this mark may turn out to belong_, certain it is that Holbein never made
use of it.” His only unalterable decision appears to be that Holbein did
not design the cuts of the Lyons Dance of Death, and in support of it he
puts forth sundry arguments which are at once absurd and inconsistent;
rejects unquestionable evidence which makes for the contrary opinion;
and admits the most improbable that seems to favour his own.

    [Footnote VI-26: Mr. Douce in every instance spells the name thus.
    In the proofs of the alphabet of the Dance of Death it is
    _Lützelburger_, and below the cut with the date 1522,

Mr. Douce, in his seventh chapter, also gives a list of cuts, which he
says were executed by Hans Lutzelburger; but out of the seven single
cuts and three alphabets which he enumerates, I am inclined to think
that Lutzelburger’s name is only to be found attached to one single cut
and to one alphabet,--the latter being that of the initial letters
representing a Dance of Death. The single cut to which I allude--and
which, I believe, is the only one of the kind that has his name
underneath it,--represents a combat in a wood between some naked men and
a body of peasants. Within the cut, to the left, is the mark, probably
of the designer, on a reversed tablet, [Symbol] thus; and underneath is
the following inscription, from a separate block: HANNS . LEUCZELLBURGER
. FURMSCHNIDER × An impression of this cut is preserved in the
Public Library at Basle; and an alphabet of Roman capitals, engraved on
wood, is printed on the same folio, below Lutzelburger’s name. In not
one of the other single cuts does this engraver’s name occur, nor in
fact any mark that can be fairly ascribed to him. The seventh cut,
described by Mr. Douce,--a copy of Albert Durer’s Decollation of John
the Baptist,--is ascribed to Lutzelburger on the authority of Zani.
According to this writer,--for I have not seen the cut myself any more
than Mr. Douce,--it has “the mark H. L. reversed,” which perhaps may
prove to be L. H. “In the index of names,” says Mr. Douce, “he (Zani)
(chiamato) FRANCK, and calls him the true prince of engravers on wood.”
In what index Zani found the reversed mark thus expounded does not
appear; I, however, am decidedly of opinion that there is no wood-cut in
existence with the mark H. L. which can be ascribed with anything like
certainty to Lutzelburger; and his name is only to be found at length
_under_ the cut of the Fight above mentioned, and printed in moveable
characters on the sheet containing the proofs of the alphabet of the
Dance of Death.[VI-27] The title of “true prince of engravers on wood,”
given by Zani to Lutzelburger, can only be admitted on the supposition
of his being the engraver of the cuts in the first edition of the Lyons
Dance of Death; but it yet remains to be proved that he ever used the
mark [[HL]] or the separate letters H. L. on any previous or subsequent
cut. Though, from his name appearing on the page containing the alphabet
of the Dance of Death, and from the correspondence of his initials with
the mark in the cut of the Duchess in the Lyons Dance of Death, I am
inclined to think that he was the engraver of the cuts in the latter
work, yet I have thought it necessary to enter thus fully into the
grounds of his pretensions to the execution of those, and other wood
engravings, in order that the reader may judge for himself.

    [Footnote VI-27: There are proofs of this alphabet in the Royal
    Collection at Dresden, as well as in the Public Library at Basle.]

Hegner, in his Life of Holbein, treats the claims that have been
advanced on behalf of Lutzelburger too lightly. He not only denies that
he was the engraver of the cuts in the first edition of the Lyons work,
but also that he executed the cuts of the alphabet of the Dance of
Death, although his name with the addition of “wood engraver”--
_formschnider_--be printed on the sheet of proofs. If we cannot admit
the inscription in question as evidence of Lutzelburger being the
engraver of this alphabet, we may with equal reason question if any wood
engraver actually executed the cut or cuts under which his name only
appears printed in type, or which may be ascribed to him in the title of
a book. Mr. Douce, speaking of the three alphabets,--of peasants, boys,
and a Dance of Death,--all of which he supposes to have been engraved by
Lutzelburger, says that the proofs “may have been deposited by him in
his _native_ city,” meaning Basle. Hegner, however, says that there is
no trace of him to be found either in registers of baptism or
burger-lists of Basle. He further adds, though I by no means concur with
him in this opinion, “It is indeed likely that, as a travelling dealer
in works of art--who, according to the custom of that period, took up
their temporary residence sometimes in one place, sometimes in
another,--he had obtained possession of those blocks, [of the alphabet
of Death’s Dance, and the Fight, with his name,] and that he sold
impressions from them in the way of trade.”[VI-28] Mr. Douce says that
it may admit of a doubt whether the alphabets ascribed to Lutzelburger
were cut on metal or on wood. It may admit of a doubt, certainly, with
one who knows very little of the practice of wood engraving, but none
with a person who is accustomed to see cuts executed in a much more
delicate style by wood engravers of very moderate abilities. To engrave
them on wood, would be comparatively easy, so far as relates to the mere
delicacy of the lines; but it would be a task of great difficulty to
engrave them in relief in any metal which should be much harder than
that of which types are composed. To suppose that they might have been
executed in type-metal, on account of the delicacy of the lines, would
involve a contradiction; for not only can finer lines be cut on box-wood
than on type-metal, but also with much greater facility.

    [Footnote VI-28: Hans Holbein der Jüngere, S. 332.]

It perhaps may not be unnecessary to give here two instances of the many
vague and absurd conjectures which have been propounded respecting the
designer or the engraver of the cuts in the Lyons editions of the Dance
of Death. In a copy of this work of the edition 1545 now in the British
Museum, but formerly belonging to the Reverend C. M. Cracherode,
a portrait of a painter or engraver named Hans Ladenspelder is inserted
opposite to the cut of the Duchess, as if in support of the conjecture
that _he_ might be the designer of those cuts, merely from the
circumstance of the initial letters of his name corresponding with
the mark [[HL]]. The portrait is a small oval engraved on copper,
with an ornamental border, round which is the following inscription:
“Imago Joannis Ladenspelder, Essendiensis, Anno ætatis suæ xxviii.
1540.”[VI-29] The mark [[L]] is perceived on this portrait, and
underneath is written the following MS. note, referring to the mark
in the cut of the Duchess: “[[HL]] the mark of the designer of these
designs of Death’s Dance, not H. Holbein. By several persons that have
seen Holbein’s Death Dance at Basil, it is not like these, nor in the
same manner.” This note, so far as relates to the implied conjecture
about Ladenspelder, may be allowed to pass without remark for what it is
worth; but it seems necessary to remind the reader that the painting of
the Dance of Death at Basle, here evidently alluded to, _was not_ the
work of Holbein, and to observe that this note is not in the handwriting
of Mr. Cracherode, but that it has apparently been written by a former
owner of the volume.

    [Footnote VI-29: Hans Ladenspelder was a native of Essen, a
    frontier town in the duchy of Berg. The following mark is to be
    found on his engravings [Symbol], which Bartsch thinks may be
    intended for the single letters I. L. V. E. S.,--representing the
    words _Joannes Ladenspelder Von Essen Sculpsit_.]

In a copy of the first edition, now lying before me, a former owner has
written on the fly-leaf the following verses from page 158 of the
Nugæ--Lyons, 1540,--of Nicholas Borbonius, a French poet:

  “Videre qui vult Parrhasium cum Zeuxide,
    Accersat a Britannia
  Hansum Ulbium, et Georgium Reperdium
    Lugduno ab urbe Galliæ.”

The meaning of these verses may be thus expressed in English:

  Whoever wishes to behold,
  Painters like to those of old,
  To England straightway let him send,
  And summon Holbein to attend;
  Reperdius,[VI-30] too, from Lyons bring,
  A city of the Gallic King.

    [Footnote VI-30: Of this George Reperdius, or his works, nothing,
    I believe, is known beyond the brief mention of his name in
    conjunction with that of Holbein in the verses of Bourbon.]

To the extract from Borbonius,--or Bourbon, as he is more frequently
called, without the Latin termination,--the writer has added a note:
“_An Reperdius harum Iconum sculptor fuerit?_” That is: “Query, if
Reperdius were the engraver of these cuts?”--meaning the cuts contained
in the Lyons Dance of Death. Mr. Douce also cites the preceding verses
from Nicholas Bourbon; and upon so slight and unstable a foundation he,
_more solito_, raises a ponderous superstructure. He, in fact, says,
that “it is _extremely probable_ that he might have begun the work in
question [the designs for the Dance of Death], and have died before he
could complete it, and that the Lyons publishers might have afterwards
employed Holbein to finish what was left undone, as well as to make
designs for additional subjects which appeared in the subsequent
editions. Thus would Holbein be so connected with the work as to obtain
in future such notice as would constitute him by general report the real
inventor of it.”

Perhaps in the whole of the discussion on this subject a more tortuous
piece of argument is not to be found. It strikingly exemplifies Mr.
Douce’s eagerness to avail himself of the most trifling circumstance
which seemed to favour his own views; and his manner of twisting and
twining it is sufficient to excite a suspicion even in the mind of the
most careless inquirer, that the chain of argument which consists of a
series of such links must be little better than a rope of sand. Mr.
Douce must have had singular notions of probability, when, upon the mere
mention of the name of Reperdius, by Bourbon, as a painter then residing
at Lyons, he asserts that it is _extremely probable_ that he, Reperdius,
might have begun the work: it is evident that he does not employ the
term in its usual and proper sense. If for “_extremely probable_” the
words “_barely possible_” be substituted, the passage will be
unobjectionable; and will then fairly represent the value of the
conjecture of Reperdius having designed any of the cuts in question. If
it be _extremely probable_ that the cuts of the first edition of the
Lyons Dance of Death were designed by Reperdius, from the mere
occurrence of his name in Bourbon, the evidence in favour of their being
designed by Holbein ought with equal reason to be considered as
_plusquam-perfect_; for the voices of his contemporaries are expressly
in his favour, the cuts themselves bear a strong general resemblance to
those which are known to be of his designing, and some of the figures
and details in the cuts of the Dance of Death correspond so nearly with
others in the Bible-cuts designed by Holbein, and also printed at Lyons
by the brothers Trechsel, and in the same year, that there cannot be a
doubt in the mind of any impartial inquirer who shall compare them, that
either both series must have been designed by the same person, or that
Holbein had servilely copied the works of an unknown artist greater than
himself. Upon one of the horns of this dilemma, Mr. Douce, and all who
assert that the cuts of the Lyons Dance of Death _were not designed by
Holbein_, must inevitably be fixed.

One of the earliest evidences in favour of Holbein being the designer of
the cuts in the Lyons Dance of Death is Nicholas Bourbon, the author of
the epigram previously cited. In an edition of his Nugæ, published at
Basle in 1540, are the following verses:[VI-31]

    [Footnote VI-31: Neither these verses, nor those previously cited,
    occur in the first edition of the Nugæ, Paris, 1533.]

_De morte picta à Hanso pictore nobili._

  Dum mortis Hansus pictor imaginem exprimit,
  Tanta arte mortem retulit ut mors vivere
  Videatur ipsa: et ipse se immortalibus
  Parem Diis fecerit operis hujus gloria.

Now,--after premising that the term _picta_ was applied
to designs engraved on wood, as well as to paintings in oil or
water-colours,[VI-32]--it may be asked to what work of Holbein’s
do these lines refer? The painting in the church-court at Basle
was not executed by Holbein; neither was it ascribed to him by his
contemporaries; for the popular error which assigns it to him appears to
have originated with certain travellers who visited Basle upwards of a
hundred years after Holbein’s decease. It indeed may be answered that
Bourbon might allude to the _alphabet_ of the Dance of Death which has
been ascribed to Holbein. A mere supposition of this kind, however,
would be untenable in this instance; for there is no direct evidence to
show that Holbein was the designer of this alphabet, and the principal
reason for supposing it to have been designed by him rests upon the
previous assumption of his being the designer of the cuts of the Lyons
Dance of Death. Deny him the honour of this work, and assert that the
last quoted verses of Bourbon must relate to some other, and the
difficulty of showing by anything like credible evidence, that he was
the designer of any other series of cuts, or even of a single cut, or
painting, of the same subject, becomes increased tenfold. Mr. Douce,
with the gross inconsistency that distinguishes the whole of his
arguments on this subject, ascribes the alphabet of the Dance of
Peasants to Holbein, and yet cautiously avoids mentioning him as the
designer of the alphabet of the Dance of Death, though the reasons for
this conclusion are precisely the same as those on which he rests the
former assertion. Nay, so confused and contradictory are his opinions on
this point, that in another part of his book he actually describes both
alphabets as being the work of the same designer and the same engraver.

    [Footnote VI-32: At that period a wood-cut, as well as a painting,
    was termed _pictura_.--On the title-page of an edition of the New
    Testament, with wood-cuts, Zurich, 1554, by Froschover, we find
    the following: “Novi Testamenti Editio postrema per Des. Erasmum
    Roterodamum. Omnia _picturis_ illustrata.”]

“Some of the writers on engraving,” says Mr. Douce, “have manifested
their usual inaccuracy on the subject of Holbein’s Dance of
Peasants. . . . . . . There is, however, _no doubt_ that his beautiful
pencil was employed on this subject in various ways, of which the
following specimens are worthy of being recorded. In a set of initial
letters frequently used in books printed at Basle and elsewhere,”
&c. After thus having unhesitatingly ascribed the Dance of Peasants to
Holbein, Mr. Douce, in a subsequent page,--when giving a list of cuts
which he ascribes to Hans Lutzelburger,--writes as follows: “8. An
alphabet with a Dance of Death, the subjects of which, with a few
exceptions, are the same as those in the other Dance; the designs,
however, occasionally vary,” &c. On concluding his description of this
alphabet, he thus notices the alphabet of the Dance of Peasants, having
apparently forgot that he had previously ascribed the latter to Holbein.
“9. Another alphabet _by the same artists_. It is a Dance of Peasants,
intermixed with other subjects, some of which are not of the most
delicate nature.”[VI-33]

    [Footnote VI-33: Douce’s Dance of Death, pp. 80, 100, and 101.]

It is, however, uncertain if Mr. Douce really did believe Holbein to be
the designer of the alphabet of the Dance of Death, though from the
preceding extracts it is plainly, though indirectly asserted, that he
_was_. In his wish to claim the engraving of the Dance of Peasants for
Lutzelburger, Mr. Douce does not seem to have been aware that from the
words “by the same artists,” coupled with his previous assertion, of
Holbein being the designer of that alphabet, it followed as a direct
consequence that he was also the designer of the alphabet of the Dance
of Death. Putting this charitable construction on Mr. Douce’s words, it
follows that _his_ assertion of Lutzelburger being the engraver of the
Dance of Peasants is purely gratuitous. If Mr. Douce really believed
that Holbein was the designer of the alphabet of the Dance of Death, he
ought in fairness to have expressly declared his opinion; although such
declaration would have caused his arguments, against Holbein being the
designer of the cuts in the Lyons Dance of Death, to appear more
paradoxical and absurd than they are when unconnected with such an
opinion; for what person, with the slightest pretensions to rationality,
could assert that Holbein was the designer of the alphabet of the Dance
of Death executed in 1530, the subjects, with few exceptions, the same
as those in the Dance of Death published at Lyons in 1538, and yet in
direct opposition to contemporary testimony, and the internal evidence
of the subjects themselves, deny that he was the designer of the cuts in
the latter work, on the sole authority of the nameless writer of a
preface which only appeared in the first edition of the book, and which,
there seems reason to suspect, was addressed to an imaginary personage?
Was Madame Jehanne de Touszele likely to feel herself highly
complimented by having dedicated to her a work which contains undeniable
evidences of the artist’s having been no friend to popery? In one cut a
couple of fiends appear to be ridiculing his “Holiness” the pope; and in
another is a young gallant with a guitar, entertaining a nun in her
bed-chamber. If a pious abbess of St. Peter’s, Lyons, in 1538, should
have considered that such cuts “tended to edification,” she must have
been an extremely liberal woman for her age. It is exceedingly amusing,
in looking over the cuts of the Lyons Dance of Death, to contrast the
drollery and satire of the designer with the endeavours of the textuary
and versifier to give them a devout and spiritual turn.

As it is certain from the verses of Bourbon, in praise of Holbein as the
painter or designer of a subject, or a series of subjects, representing
“Death as if he were alive,”--ut mors vivere videatur,--that this
celebrated artist _had designed_ a Dance of Death, Mr. Douce, being
unable to deny the evidence thus afforded, paradoxically proceeds to fit
those verses to his own theory; and after quoting them, at page 139,
proceeds as follows: “It has already been demonstrated that these lines
could not refer to the old painting of the Macaber Dance at the
Dominican convent, whilst from the important dedication to the edition
of the wood-cuts first published at Lyons in 1538, it is next to
impossible that that work could then have been in Borbonius’s
contemplation. It appears from several places in his Nugæ that he was in
England in 1535, at which time Holbein drew his portrait in such a
manner as to excite his gratitude and admiration in another copy of
verses . . . . . . He returned to Lyons in 1536, and it is known that he
was there in 1538, when he probably wrote the complimentary lines in
Holbein’s Biblical designs a short time before their publication, either
out of friendship to the painter, or at the instance of the Lyons
publisher, with whom he was certainly connected.--Now, if Borbonius,
during his residence at Lyons, had been assured that the designs in the
wood-cuts of the Dance of Death were the production of Holbein, would
not his before-mentioned lines on that subject have been likewise
introduced into the Lyons edition of it, or at least into some
subsequent editions, in none of which is any mention whatever made of
Holbein, although the work was continued even after the death of that
artist? The application, therefore, of Borbonius’s lines must be sought
for elsewhere; but it is greatly to be regretted that he has not
adverted to the place where the painting,[VI-34] as he seems to call it,
was made.”

    [Footnote VI-34: Mr. Douce here seems to lay some weight on the
    word _picta_, which, as has been previously observed, was applied
    equally to wood engravings and paintings.]

Mr. Douce next proceeds in his search after the “painting,” and he is
not long in finding what he wishes for. According to his statement,
“_very soon after_ the calamitous fire at Whitehall, 1697, which
consumed nearly the whole of that palace, a person, calling himself
T. Nieuhoff Piccard, probably belonging to the household of William III,
and a man who appears to have been an amateur artist,” made etchings
after nineteen of the cuts in the Lyons Dance of Death. Impressions of
those etchings, accompanied with manuscript dedications, appear to have
been presented by this T. Nieuhoff Piccard to his friends or patrons,
and among others to a Mynheer Heymans, and to “the high, noble, and
well-born Lord William Denting, Lord of Rhoon, Pendraght,” &c. The
address to Mynheer Heymans contains the following important piece of
information respecting a work of Holbein’s, which appears most
singularly to have escaped the notice of every other writer, whether
English or foreign. “Sir,--The costly palace of Whitehall, erected by
Cardinal Wolsey, and the residence of King Henry VIII, contains, among
other performances of art, a Dance of Death, _painted by Holbein_, in
its galleries, which, through an unfortunate conflagration, has been
reduced to ashes.”[VI-35] In the dedication to the “high, noble, and
well-born Lord William Benting,” the information respecting this curious
work of art,--all memory of which would have perished had it not been
for the said T. Nieuhoff Piccard,--is rather more precise. “Sir, [not My
Lord,]--In the course of my constant love and pursuit of works of art,
it has been my good fortune to meet with that scarce little work of Hans
Holbein, neatly engraved on wood, and which he himself had _painted as
large as life_, in fresco, on the walls of Whitehall.” Who Mynheer
Heymans was will probably never be discovered, but he seems to have been
a person of some consequence in his day, though unfortunately never
mentioned in any history or memoirs of the period, for it appears that
the court thought proper, in consideration of his singular deserts, to
cause a dwelling to be built for him at Whitehall. My Lord William
Benting,[VI-36]--though from his name and titles he might be mistaken
for a member of the Bentinck family,--appears to have been actually born
in the palace. It is, however, very unfortunate that his name does not
occur in the peerage of that time; and as neither Rhoon nor Pendraght
are to be found in Flanders or Holland, it is not unlikely that these
may be the names of two of his lordship’s _castles in Spain_.

    [Footnote VI-35: Douce, Dance of Death, p. 141.]

    [Footnote VI-36: “The identification of William Benting,” says Mr.
    Douce with exquisite bon-hommie, “must be left to the sagacity of
    others. He _could not have been_ the Earl of Portland created in
    1689, or he would have been addressed accordingly. He is,
    moreover, described as a youth born at Whitehall, and then
    residing there, and whose dwelling consisted of nearly the whole
    of the palace that remained after the fire.”--Dance of Death,
    p. 244. It appears that these addresses of Piccard were written in
    a foreign language, though, whether Dutch, French, German, or
    Latin, Mr. Douce most unaccountably neglects to say: he merely
    mentions that his extracts are translated.]

T. Nieuhoff Piccard’s express testimony of Holbein having painted a
Dance of Death in fresco, at Whitehall, is, in Mr. Douce’s opinion,
further corroborated by the following circumstances: 1. “In one of
Vanderdort’s manuscript catalogues of the pictures and rarities
transported from St. James’s to Whitehall, and placed there in the newly
erected cabinet room of Charles I, and in which several works by Holbein
are mentioned, there is the following article: ‘A little piece, where
Death with a green garland about his head, stretching both his arms to
apprehend a Pilate in the habit of one of the spiritual Prince-Electors
of Germany. Copied by Isaac Oliver from Holbein.’ There cannot be a
doubt that this refers to the subject of the Elector as painted by
Holbein in the Dance of Death at Whitehall, proving at the same time the
identity of the painting with the wood-cuts, whatever may be the
inference. 2. Sandrart, after noticing a remarkable portrait of Henry
VIII. at Whitehall, states ‘that there yet remains at that palace
_another work_, by Holbein, that constitutes him the Apelles of his
time.’ This is certainly _very like an allusion_ to a Dance of Death.
3. It is _by no means improbable_ that Matthew Prior may have alluded to
Holbein’s painting at Whitehall, as it is not likely that he would be
acquainted with any other.

  ‘Our term of life depends not on our deed,
  Before our birth our funeral was decreed;
  Nor aw’d by foresight, nor misled by chance,
  Imperious Death directs the ebon lance,
  Peoples great Henry’s tombs, and leads up Holbein’s Dance.’

  _Prior, Ode to the Memory of George Villiers._”[VI-37]

    [Footnote VI-37: Douce’s Dance of Death, pp. 144, 145.]

Mr. Douce having previously _proved_ that Holbein was _not_ the designer
of the cuts in the Lyons Dance of Death, thus, in a manner _equally
satisfactory_, accounts for the verses of Bourbon, by showing, on the
_unexceptionable_ evidence of “a person, calling himself T. Nieuhoff
Piccard, _probably_ belonging to the household of William III,” that the
great work of Holbein--by the fame of which he had made himself equal
with the immortal gods--was painted as large as life, in fresco, on the
walls of Whitehall. The ingenuity displayed in depriving Holbein of the
honour of the Lyons cuts is no less exemplified in proving him to be the
painter of a similar subject in Whitehall. The key-stone is worthy of
the arch.

Though the _facts_ and _arguments_ put forth by Mr. Douce, in proof of
Holbein having painted a Dance of Death on the walls of the old palace
of Whitehall, and of this having been the identical Dance of Death
alluded to by Bourbon, might be summarily dismissed as being of that
kind which no objection could render more absurd, yet it seems necessary
to direct the especial attention of the reader to one or two points; and
first to the assertion that “it is next to impossible that the Lyons
Dance of Death of 1538 could then have been in Borbonius’s
contemplation.” Now, in direct opposition to what is here said, it
appears to me highly probable that _this_ was the very work on account
of which he addressed his epigram to Holbein; and it is moreover evident
that Bourbon expresses in Latin verse almost precisely the same ideas as
those which had previously been expressed in French by the writer of the
address to Madame Jehanne de Touszele, when speaking of the merits of
the nameless artist who is there alluded to as the designer or engraver
of the cuts.[VI-38] As Holbein is not certainly known to be the painter
or designer of any other Dance of Death which might merit the high
praise conveyed in Bourbon’s verses, to what other work of his will they
apply? Even supposing, as I do, that the alphabet of the Dance of Death
was designed by Holbein, I conceive it “next to impossible,” to use the
words of Mr. Douce, that Bourbon should have described Holbein as having
attained immortality through the fame of those twenty-four small
letters, a perfect set of which I believe is not to be found in any
single volume. That Bourbon _did_ know who was the designer of the cuts
of the Lyons Dance of Death there can scarcely be the shadow of a doubt;
he was at Lyons in the year in which the work was published; he was
connected with the printers; and another work, the Icones Historiarum
Veteris Testamenti, also published by them in 1538, has at the
commencement a copy of verses written by Bourbon, from which alone we
learn that Holbein was the designer of the cuts,--the first four of
which cuts, be it observed, being from the same blocks as the first four
in the Dance of Death, published by the same printers, in the same year.
What might be the motives of the printers for not inserting Bourbon’s
epigram in praise of Holbein in the subsequent editions of the Dance of
Death, supposing him to be the designer of the cuts, I cannot tell, nor
will I venture to _guess_. They certainly must have had some reason for
concealing the designer’s name, for the writer of the prefatory address
to Madame Jehanne de Touszele takes care not to mention it even when
speaking in so laudatory a style of the excellence of the designs. Among
the other unaccountable things connected with this work, I may mention
the fact of the French prefatory address to the abbess of St. Peter’s
appearing only in the first, and being omitted in every subsequent

    [Footnote VI-38: That the reader may judge for himself of the
    similarity of thought in the passages referred to, they are here
    given in juxta-position.

    “Car ses histoires funebres, avec leurs descriptions severement
    rithmées, aux advisans donnent telle admiration, qu’ilz en _jugent
    les mortz y apparoistre tresvivement_, et les vifs tresmortement
    representer. Qui me faict penser, que la Mort craignant que ce
    excellent painctre ne la paignist tant vifve qu’elle ne fut plus
    crainte pour Mort, _et que pour cela luy mesme n’en devint
    immortel_, que a ceste cause,” &c.--_Epistre des Faces de la

      “Dum mortis Hansus pictor imaginem exprimit,
      Tanta arte mortem retulit, ut mors vivere
      Videatur ipsa: et ipse se immortalibus
      Parem Diis fecerit, operis hujus gloria.”

With respect to T. Nieuhoff Piccard, whose manuscript addresses to
“Mynheer Heymans” and “Lord William Benting” are cited to _prove_ that
Bourbon’s verses must relate to a painting of the Dance of Death by
Holbein in the old palace of Whitehall, nothing whatever is known; and
there is not the slightest reason to believe that a Lord William
Benting, born in the old palace of Whitehall, “Lord of Rhoon,
Pendraght,” &c. ever existed. I am of opinion that the addresses of the
person calling himself T. Nieuhoff Piccard are a clumsy attempt at
imposition.[VI-39] Though Mr. Douce had seen both those addresses, and
also another of the same kind, he does not appear to have made any
attempt to trace their former owners, nor does he mention the names of
the parties in whose possession they were at the time that he saw them.
He had seen the address to “Lord William Benting” previous to the
publication of his observations on the Dance of Death in 1794, when, if
he had felt inclined, he might have ascertained from whom the then
possessor had received it, and thus obtained a clue to guide him in his
inquiries respecting the personal identity of the Lord of Rhoon and
Pendraght. But this would not have suited his purpose; for he seems to
have been conscious that any inquiry respecting such a person would only
have tended to confirm the doubts respecting the paper addressed to him
by Piccard. It is also uncertain at what time those pretended addresses
were written, but there are impressions of the etchings which
accompanied them with the date 1720; and I am inclined to think that if
the paper and handwriting were closely examined, it would be found that
those pretended presentation addresses were manufactured about the same,
or perhaps at a later period. Whoever the person calling himself
T. Nieuhoff Piccard may have been, or at whatever time the addresses to
Mynheer Heymans and others may have been written, the only evidence of
there having been a painting of the Dance by Holbein at Whitehall rests
on his unsupported statement. Such a painting is not mentioned by any
foreign traveller who had visited this country, nor is it noticed by any
English writer prior to 1697; it is not alluded to in any tragedy,
comedy, farce, or masque, in which we might expect that such a painting
would have been incidentally mentioned had it ever existed. Evelyn, who
must have frequently been in the old palace of Whitehall, says not a
word of such a painting, though he mentions the Lyons Dance of Death
under the title of Mortis Imago, and ascribes the cuts to
Holbein;[VI-40] and not the slightest notice of it is to be found in
Vertue or Walpole.

    [Footnote VI-39: Hegner, in his Life of Holbein, speaking of the
    Nieuhoff discovery, says: “Of this fable no notice would have been
    taken here had not Mr. Douce ascribed undeserved authority to it,
    and had not his superficial investigations found undeserved credit
    with English and other compilers.” Hans Holbein der Jüngere,
    S. 338.

    Mr. Douce, at page 240 of his Dance of Death, complains of
    Hegner’s want of urbanity and politeness; and in return calls his
    account of Holbein’s works _superficial_, and moreover says that
    “his arguments, if worthy of the name, are, generally speaking, of
    a most weak and flimsy texture.” He also gives him a sharp rebuff
    by alluding to him as the “above _gentleman_,” the last word, to
    give it point, being printed in Italics. Mr. Douce, when he was
    thus pelting Hegner, does not seem to have been aware that his own
    anti-Holbenian superstructure was a house of glass.

    “Cedimus, inque vicem dedimus crura sagittis.”]

    [Footnote VI-40: Evelyn is only referred to here on account of his
    _silence_ with respect to the pretended painting at Whitehall.
    What he says of Holbein cannot be relied on, as will be seen from
    the following passage, which is a fair specimen of his general
    knowledge and accuracy. “We have seen some few things cut in wood
    by the incomparable Hans Holbein the Dane, but they are rare and
    exceedingly difficult to come by; as his _Licentiousness of the
    Friars and Nuns_; _Erasmus_; _The Dance Macchabre_; the _Mortis
    Imago_, which he painted in great in the Church of Basil, and
    afterwards graved with no less art.”--Evelyn’s Sculpture, p. 69.
    Edition 1769.]

The learned Conrad Gesner, who was born at Zurich in 1516, and died
there in 1565, expressly ascribes the Lyons Dance of Death to
Holbein;[VI-41] and, notwithstanding the contradictory statement in the
preface to the first edition of this work, such appears to have been the
general belief of all the artist’s contemporaries. Van Mander, who was
born in 1548, and who died in 1606, appears to have been the first
person who gave any account of the life of Holbein. His work, entitled
Het Schilder Boek, consisting of biographical notices of painters,
chiefly Germans and Flemings, was first published in 1604; and, when
speaking of Holbein, he mentions the Lyons Dance of Death among his
other works. Sandrart, in common with every other writer on art of the
period, also ascribes the Lyons work to Holbein, and he gives the
following account of a conversation that he had with Rubens respecting
those cuts: “I remember that in the year 1627, when the celebrated
Rubens was proceeding to Utrecht to visit Honthorst, I accompanied him
as far as Amsterdam; and during our passage in the boat I looked into
Holbein’s little book of the Dance of Death, the cuts of which Rubens
highly praised, recommending me, as I was a young man, to copy them,
observing, that he had copied them himself in his youth.” Sandrart, who
seems to have been one of the earliest writers who supposed that Durer,
Cranach, and others engraved their own designs, without any just grounds
describes Holbein as a wood engraver. Patin, in his edition of the
“Stultitiæ Laus” of Erasmus, 1676, repeats the same story; and Papillon
in his decisive manner clenches it by asserting that “most of the
delicate wood-cuts and ornamental letters which are to be found in books
printed at Basle, Zurich, and towns in Switzerland, at Lyons, London,
&c. from 1520 to about 1540, were engraved by Holbein himself.” Papillon
also says that it is believed--_on croit_--that Holbein began to engrave
in 1511, when he was about sixteen. “What is extraordinary in this
painter,” he further adds, “is, that he painted and engraved with the
left hand, so that he consequently engraved the lines on the wood from
right to left, instead of, as with us, engraving from left to
right.”[VI-42] Jansen, and a host of other compilers, without inquiry,
repeat the story of Holbein having been a wood engraver, and that the
cuts of the Lyons Dance of Death were engraved by himself. That he was
the designer of those cuts I am thoroughly convinced, though I consider
it “next to impossible” that he should have been also the engraver.

    [Footnote VI-41: “Imagines Mortis expressæ ab optimo pictore
    Johanne Holbein cum epigrammatibus Georgii Æmylii, excusæ
    Francofurti et Lugduni apud Frellonios, quorum editio plures habet
    picturas. Vidi etiam cum metris Gallicis et Germanicis, si bene
    memini.” Mr. Douce cites this passage from Gesner’s Pandectæ,
    “a supplemental volume of great rarity to his well-known
    Bibliotheca.” The correct title of the volume in which it occurs
    is “Partitiones Theologicæ, Pandectarum Universalium Conradi
    Gesneri Liber Ultimus.” Folio, printed by Christopher Froschover,
    Zurich (Tiguri) 1549. The notice of the Dance of Death is in folio
    86, _a_.]

    [Footnote VI-42: Traité de la Gravure en Bois, tom. i. p. 165. Van
    Mander asserts that Holbein painted with his left hand; but Horace
    Walpole, however, in opposition to this, refers to a portrait of
    Holbein, formerly in the Arundelian collection, where he appears
    holding the pencil in his _right_ hand.]

Holbein’s Bible Cuts, as they are usually called, were first published
at Lyons, in 1538, the same year, and by the same printers, as the Dance
of Death. The book is a small quarto, and the title is as follows:
“Historiarum Veteris Testamenti Icones ad vivum expressæ. Una cum brevi,
sed quoad fieri potuit, dilucida earundem et Latina et Gallica
expositione. Lugduni sub scuto Coloniensi. M.D.XXXVIII.”[VI-43] On the
title-page is an emblematic cut, with the motto _Usus me genuit_,
similar to that on the title-page in the first edition of the Dance of
Death, but not precisely the same; and at the end is the imprint of the
brothers Melchior and Caspar Trechsel within an ornamental border, as in
the latter work. I am greatly inclined to think that the brothers were
only the printers of the first editions of the Dance of Death and the
Bible cuts, and that the real proprietors were John and Francis Frellon,
whose names appear as the publishers in subsequent editions.

    [Footnote VI-43: A copy of this edition is preserved in the Public
    Library at Basle, and there is another copy in the Royal
    Collection at Dresden. Another edition, in every respect similar
    to the first, was also printed by the brothers Trechsel in 1539.
    Hegner, in his Life of Holbein, does not seem to have known of
    this edition; speaking of that of 1538, he says, “It is probably
    the same as that to which Papillon gives the date 1539.” There is
    a copy of the edition of 1539 in the British Museum.]

This opinion seems to be corroborated by the fact of there being an
address from “_Franciscus Frellaeus_” to the Christian Reader in the
Bible cuts of 1538 and 1539, which in subsequent editions is altered to
“Franciscus _Frellonius_.” That the same person is designated by those
names, I think there can be little doubt, as the addresses are literally
the same. From adopting the form “Frellaeus,” however, in the editions
of 1538 and 1539, it would seem that the writer was not wishful to
discover his name. When the work becomes popular he writes it
Frellonius; and in the second edition of the Dance of Death, when the
character of this work is also established, and there seems no longer
reason to apprehend the censures of the church of Rome, we find the
names of John and Francis Frellon on the title-page under the “shield of
Cologne.” Whatever might be their motives, it seems certain that the
first publishers of the Dance of Death were wishful to withhold their
names; and it is likely that the designer of the cuts might have equally
good reasons for concealment. Had the Roman Catholic party considered
the cuts of the Pope, the Nun, and two or three others as the covert
satire of a _reformed_ painter, the publishers and the designer would
have been as likely to incur danger as to reap profit or fame.

The address of Franciscus Frellaeus is followed by a copy of Latin
verses by Nicholas Bourbon, in which Holbein is mentioned as the
designer; and immediately preceding the cuts is an address “aux
lecteurs,” in French verse, by Gilles Corrozet, who, perhaps, might be
the poet that supplied the French expositions of those cuts, and the
“descriptions severement rithmées” of the Dance of Death. The following
is an extract from Bourbon’s prefatory verses, the whole of which it
appears unnecessary to give.

  “Nuper in Elysio cum fortè erraret Apelles
    Una aderat Zeuxis, Parrhasiusque comes.
  Hi duo multa satis fundebant verba; sed ille
    Interea mœrens et taciturnus erat.
  Mirantur comites, farique hortantur et urgent:
    Suspirans imo pectore, Coûs ait:
  O famæ ignari, superis quæ nuper ab oris
    (Vana utinam!) Stygias venit ad usque domos:
  Scilicet, esse hodie quendam ex mortalibus unum
    Ostendat qui me vosque fuisse nihil:
  Qui nos declaret pictores nomine tantum,
    Picturæque omneis ante fuisse rudes.
  Holbius est homini nomen, qui nomina nostra
    Obscura ex claris ac prope nulla facit.
  Talis apud manes querimonia fertur: et illos
    Sic equidem merito censeo posse queri,
  Nam tabulam siquis videat, quam pinxerit Hansus
    Holbius, ille artis gloria prima suæ,
  Protinus exclamet, Potuit Deus edere monstrum
    Quod video? humanæ non potuere manus.
  Icones hæ sacræ tanti sunt, optime lector,
    Artificis, dignum quod venereris opus.”

Besides those verses there is also a Greek distich by Bourbon, to which
the following translation “pene ad verbum” is appended:

  “Cernere vis, hospes, simulacra simillima vivis?
  Hoc opus Holbinæ nobile cerne manus.”

When Mr. Douce stated that it was “_extremely probable_ that the
anonymous painter or designer of the Dance might have been employed also
by the Frellons to execute a set of subjects for the Bible previously to
his death, and that Holbein was afterwards employed to complete the
work,” he seems to have forgot that such a testimony of Holbein being
the designer was prefixed to the Bible cuts. In answer to Mr. Douce it
may be asked, in his own style, if the Frellons knew that another artist
was the designer of the cuts of the Dance of Death, and if he also had
been originally employed to design the Bible cuts, how does it happen
that they should allow Bourbon to give all the honour of the latter to
Holbein, who, if the Dance of Death be not his, was certainly much
inferior as a designer to the nameless artist whose unfinished work he
was employed to complete?

The total number of the Bible cuts in the first edition of the work is
ninety, the first four of which are the same as the first four of the
Dance of Death; the other eighty-six are of a different form to the
first four, as will be perceived from the specimens, which are of the
same size as the originals. Those eighty-six cuts are generally much
inferior in design to those of the Dance of Death, and the style in
which they are engraved is very unequal, some of them being executed
with considerable neatness and delicacy, and others in a much coarser
manner. The following cut, Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac, Genesis
XXII, is one of those which are the best engraved; but even these, so
far as regards the expression of the features and the delicate marking
of the hands, are generally much inferior to the cuts of the Dance of


Though most of the Bible cuts are inferior both in design and execution
to those of the Dance of Death, and though several of them are rudely
drawn and badly engraved, yet many of them afford points of such perfect
identity with those of the Dance of Death, that it seems impossible to
come to any other conclusion than that either the cuts of both works
have been designed by the same person, or that the designer of the one
series has servilely copied from the designer of the other, and, what is
most singular, in many trifling details which seem the least likely to
be imitated, and which usually constitute individual peculiarities of
style. For instance, the small shrubby tree in the preceding cut is
precisely of the same species as that seen in the cut of the Old Woman
in the Dance of Death; and the angel about to stay Abraham’s hand bears
a strong general resemblance to the angel in Adam and Eve driven out of

The cut on the opposite page--the Fool, Psalm LIII--is copied from one
of those executed in a coarser style than the preceding. The children in
this cut are evidently of the same family as those of the Dance of

In the first cut, the Creation, a crack is perceived running nearly down
the middle from top to bottom, in the edition of the Dance of Death of
1545. It is also perceptible in all the subsequent Lyons editions of
this work and of the Bible cuts. It is, however, less obvious in the
Bible cuts of the edition 1549 than in some of the preceding, probably
in consequence of the block having been cramped to remedy the defect.
Mr. Douce speaks, at page 105, as if the crack were not discernible in
the Bible cuts of 1549; it is, however, quite perceptible in every copy
that has come under my notice. Some of the latter editions of this work
contain four additional cuts, which are all coarsely executed. In the
edition of 1547 they form the illustrations to Ezekiel XL; Ezekiel
XLIII; Jonah I, II, and III; and Habakkuk. The Bible cuts were also
printed with explanations in English. The title of a copy now before me
is as follows: “The Images of the Old Testament, lately expressed, set
forthe in Ynglishe and Frenche vuith a playn and brief exposition.
Printed at Lyons by Johan Frellon, the yere of our Lord God, 1549,” 4to.
In the latter editions there are wood-cuts of the four Evangelists, each
within an oval border, on the last leaf. They bear no tokens of
Holbein’s style.


Among the many instances of resemblance which are to be perceived on
comparing the Dance of Death with the Bible cuts, the following may be
enumerated as the most remarkable. The peculiar manner in which fire
with smoke, and the waves of the sea, are represented in the Dance of
Death can scarcely fail to strike the most heedless observer; for
instance, the fire in the cut of Death seizing the child, and the waves
in the cut of the Seaman. In the Bible cuts we perceive the same
peculiarity; there is the same kind of fire in Moses directing the
manner of burnt offerings, Leviticus I; in the burning of Nadab and
Abihu, Leviticus X; and in every other one of those cuts where fire is
seen. In the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, Exodus XIV, are the
same kind of curling waves. Except in the Dance of Death and the Bible
cuts, I have never seen an instance of fire or water represented in such
a manner. If those cuts were designed by two different artists, it is
certainly singular that in this respect they should display so perfect a
coincidence of idea. The sheep in the cut of the Bishop in the Dance of
Death are the same as those in the Bible cut of Moses seeing God in the
burning bush, Exodus III; and the female figure in the cut of the
Elector in the former work is perceived in the Bible cut of the captive
Midianites, Numbers XXXI. The children introduced in both works are
almost perfectly identical, as will be perceived on comparing the cut of
Little Children mocking Elijah, chapter II, Kings II, with those of the
Elector, and Death seizing the child, in the Dance of Death. The face of
the Duchess in the latter work is the same as that of Esther in the
Bible cut, Esther, chapter II; and in this cut ornaments on the
tapestry, like fleurs-de-lis, behind the throne of Ahasuerus, are the
same as those on the tapestry behind the King in the Dance of Death. The
latter coincidence has been noticed by Mr. Douce, who, in direct
opposition to the evidence of the German or Swiss costume of the living
characters of the Dance of Death, considers it as contributing to
demonstrate that both the series of those cuts are of Gallic
origin.[VI-44] It is needless to enumerate more instances of almost
complete identity of figures and details in the cuts of the Dance of
Death and those of the Bible illustrations; they are too frequent to
have originated from a conventional mode of representing certain objects
and persons; and they are most striking in minor details, where one
artist would be least likely to imitate another, but where the same
individual designer would be most likely to repeat himself. “As to the
designs of these truly elegant prints,” says Mr. Douce, speaking of the
cuts of the Dance of Death, “no one who is at all skilled in the
knowledge of Holbein’s style and manner of grouping his figures would
hesitate immediately to ascribe them to that artist.”[VI-45] As this
opinion is corroborated by a comparison of the Dance of Death with the
Bible cuts, and as the internal evidence of the cuts of the Dance of
Death in favour of Holbein is confirmed by the testimony of his
contemporaries, the reader can decide for himself how far Holbein’s
positive claims to the honour of this work ought to be affected by the
passage in the anonymous address to Madame Jehanne de Touszele, which
forms the groundwork of Mr. Douce’s theory.

    [Footnote VI-44: “A comparison of the 8th subject of the
    Simulachres,” says Mr. Douce, “with that of the Bible for Esther
    I, II, where the canopy ornamented with fleurs-de-lis is the same
    in both, will contribute to strengthen the above conjecture, as
    will both the cuts to demonstrate their Gallic origin. It is most
    certain that the King sitting at table in the Simulachres is
    intended for Francis I, which if any one should doubt, let him
    look upon the miniature of that king, copied at p. 214, in
    Clarke’s ‘Repertorium Bibliographicum.’” The “above conjecture”
    referred to in this extract is that previously cited at page 367,
    where Mr. Douce conjectures that Holbein _might have been_
    employed to complete the Bible cuts which _might have been_ left
    unfinished in consequence of the death of Mr. Douce’s “great
    unknown” designer of the Dance of Death.--Dance of Death, p. 96.
    Mr. Douce, not being able to deny the similarity of many of the
    cuts, says it is highly probable that Holbein was merely employed
    to finish the Bible cuts, without ever considering that it is
    _primâ facie_ much more probable that Holbein was the designer of
    the cuts in both works.]

    [Footnote VI-45: Dance of Death, p. 82.]

Having now examined the principal arguments which have been alleged to
show that Holbein _was not_ the designer of the Dance of Death, and
having endeavoured to justify his claims to that honour by producing the
evidences on which they rest, I shall now take leave of this subject,
feeling thoroughly assured that HOLBEIN WAS THE DESIGNER OF THE CUTS OF
no overweening confidence, that the preceding investigation will render
it necessary for the next questioner of his title to produce stronger
objections than the solitary ambiguous passage in the preface to the
first edition of the work, and to support them with more forcible and
consistent arguments than have been put forth by Mr. Douce. M. T.
Nieuhoff Piccard, I am inclined to think, will never again be called as
a witness in this cause; and before the passage in the preface can be
allowed to have any weight, it must be shown that such a personage as
Madame Jehanne de Touszele _was_ prioress of the convent of St. Peter at
Lyons at the time of the first publication of the work: and even should
such a fact be established, the ambiguity of the passage--whether the
pretendedly deceased artist were the engraver or designer, or both,--and
the obvious desire to conceal his name, remain to be explained.

In 1538, the year in which the Dance of Death and the Bible cuts were
first published at Lyons, Holbein was residing in England under the
patronage of Henry VIII; though it is also certain that about the
beginning of September in that year he returned to Basle and he remained
there a few weeks.[VI-46]

    [Footnote VI-46: “Venit nuper Basileam ex Anglia Ioannes Holbein,
    adeo felicem ejus regni statum prædicans, qui aliquot septimanis
    exactis rursum eo migraturus est.” From a letter written by
    Rudolph Gualter to Henry Bullinger, of Zurich, about the middle of
    September 1538.--Quoted by Hegner, S. 246.]

As the productions of this distinguished painter occupy so large a
portion of this chapter, it perhaps may not be unnecessary to give here
a few particulars of his life, chiefly derived from Hegner’s work,
previous to his coming to England. Hans Holbein, the Younger, as he is
often called by German writers to distinguish him from his father, was
the son of Hans Holbein, a painter of considerable reputation. The year
and place of his birth have not been positively ascertained, but there
seems reason to believe that he was born in 1498, at Augsburg,[VI-47] of
which city his father was a burgher, and from whence he appears to have
removed with his family to Basle, about the end of the fifteenth or the
beginning of the sixteenth century. Young Holbein was brought up to his
father’s profession, and at an early age displayed the germ of his
future excellence. There is a portrait in oil by young Holbein of the
date of 1513, which, according to Hegner, though rather weak in colour
and somewhat hard in outline, is yet clearly and delicately painted.
From the excellence of his early productions, Patin, in his Life of
Holbein, prefixed to an edition of the Laus Stultitiæ of Erasmus[VI-48]
thinks that he must have been born in 1495. That he was born in 1498
there can, however, be little doubt, for Hegner mentions a portrait of
him, at Basle, when in the forty-fifth year of his age, with the date
1543. Several anecdotes are told of Holbein as a jolly fellow, and of
his twice or thrice discharging his account at a tavern by painting a
Dance of Peasants. Though there seems reason to believe that Holbein was
a free liver, and that he did paint such a subject in a house at Basle,
the stories of his thus settling for his liquor are highly improbable.
He appears to have married young, for in a painting of his wife and two
children, executed before he left Basle for England in 1526, the eldest
child, a boy, appears to be between four and five years old.[VI-49]

    [Footnote VI-47: Dr. Dibdin, in his Bibliographical Tour vol. iii.
    pp. 80, 81, Edit. 1829, mentions two paintings at Augsburg by the
    elder Holbein, one dated 1499 and the other 1501. The elder
    Holbein had a brother named Sigismund, who was also a painter, and
    who appears to have established himself at Berne. Papillon, in his
    usual manner, makes Sigismund Holbein a wood engraver. By his
    will, dated 1540, he appoints his nephew Hans the heir of all his
    property in Berne.]

    [Footnote VI-48: Patin’s edition of this work was published in
    octavo, at Basle, in 1676. It contains eighty-three copper-plate
    engravings, from pen-and-ink sketches, drawn by Holbein, in the
    margin of a copy of an edition printed by Frobenius, in 1514, and
    still preserved (1860) in the Public Library at Basle. It is said
    that Erasmus, when looking over those sketches, exclaimed, when he
    came to that intended for himself, “Oho, if Erasmus were now as he
    appears here, he would certainly take a wife.” Above another of
    the sketches, representing a man with one of his arms about a
    woman’s neck, and at the same time drinking out of a bottle,
    Erasmus is said to have written the name “_Holbein._” In an
    edition of the Laus Stultitiæ, edited by G. G. Becker, Basle,
    1780, 8vo. those sketches are engraved (very indifferently) on

    [Footnote VI-49: Hegner, Hans Holbein der Jüngere, S. 110.]

The name of Holbein’s wife is unknown; but it is