[Leipzig, Konrad Kachelofen] c. 1490.
4to (179 x 130 mm.). [ii], p. Gothic type.
Gilt-ruled crushed brown morocco with a blind inner frame and gilt corner fleurons (Bedford, c. 1870), gilt spine and title, all edges gilt.
FIRST EDITION, A CORNERSTONE OF MEDIEVAL GERMAN LITERATURE. Originally composed about 1230 and reworked in the 1380s for school use, these Latin and German proverbs, moral maxims and satiric observations are sharp, short and skilled. They are the world of Everyman — farmer and knight, laity and clergy — and guide his conduct with prudence the primary virtue. In homely, pithy language, they wield popular imagery and traditional wisdom against the ecclesiastic and secular hierarchies’ lust for power and money, while acknowledging the unalterable fate of the humble.
This is the only antiquarian printing of the 14th-century text. The market quickly turned to Sebastian Brant’s humanist version (1508, etc.), then to the explicitly Protestant revision (1538, etc.). I have not traced another example of this edition for sale in the past fifty years. In good condition, offsetting from an oval leather bookplate.
¶Montandon, Bibliographie des traités de savoir-vivre I: 283; Moll, Sprichwörterbibliographie 3655; Gratet-Duplessis, Bibliographie parémiologique 533; Bernstein, Catalogue des livres parémiologiques 1189 “of the greatest rarity” (tr.); ISTC if00310000; Goff F-310.