[Erfurt, Hans Knappe d.Ä.] c. 1512.
Folio (289 x 214 mm.). CLXXXXVp. ONE HUNDRED NINETY-FIVE FULL-PAGE WOODCUTS including the title-page (title signed PVM, one block signed MS and two signed HK — one dated 1511).
Early 20th-century gilt-ruled vellum, flat spine and gilt morocco label, top edge gilt.
THIS BLOCKBOOK IS THE SINGLE MOST EXTENSIVE REPERTOIRE OF MILITARY ICONOGRAPHY TO 1600.
Only Edition, issued without text. This served manuscript illuminators, printed book illustrators, nobles, generals, kings and military engineers. It has seventy-two more blocks than the German-language Vegetius Knappe issued the previous year. “The additional woodcuts…go into amazing detail: pieces of guns, ballistic curves, restraining leather straps, etc.” (Hase, tr.).
We find armored cars, diving suits, cannon (one scheme with eight on a revolving platform for rapid fire), troop carriers, portable firearms, fortifications, a pneumatic “sleeping bag”, armor, bladed weapons, projectiles, explosives, etc. The soldiers appear in early 16th-century (German) costume, as they would in contemporary art.
Though the blocks have been variously attributed, Hase shows they belong to a team of anonymous artists. The most original introduces elaborate landscapes, animals and identifiable flora.
The pencil notes in this copy correlate some images with those in Valturius, Das Feuerwerkbuch (Germanisches Museum Cod. 719) and a manuscript by Nürnberg gunner Johann Formschneider (BSB Cod. Germ. 734). In good condition (washed, some minor stains).
¶Warfare and the Age of Printing: Catalogue of Early Printed Books 3001 “Extremely rare; no other copies traceable” & illus. pp. 274-83; Hase, “Peter von Mainz und die Holzschnitte zu den von Hans Knappe in Erfurt gedruckten Ausgaben des Vegetius (1511)” in Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens IV (1963) 1569-78; Allmand, The De Re Militari of Vegetius: The Reception, Transmission and Legacy…in the Middle Ages 239-48; Jähns, Geschichte der Kriegswissenschaften I: 124; VD 16 online ZV 9905 (Munich, Schweinfurt).