UNRECORDED IN US
Augsburg, Johann Miller, 1514.
4to. 76 unnumbered ll., a-f4 g-i2 i-v4. Gothic letter, t-p and tables in red and black. T-p with woodcut border of grotesques and male and female figures in armour, 107 full-page or smaller woodcuts (2 on thick paper) of personified constellations and planets, zodiacal signs and astronomical diagrams (one with two functioning volvelles in period colouring), red or white on black woodcut initials. T-p a little dusty, outer margin a bit trimmed, some thumbing, small repairs to upper blank margin of l1 and to text on l3 without loss, t-p and last reinforced at gutter. A good, clean copy, period-style modern calf. Contemporary ex-libris ‘S[wester] Karitas gärtnerin in der Pütrich Reglhaus’ to blank of t-p, inscription dated 1546 to recto of final blank and two words to verso.
This rare vernacular astrology belonged to Sister Karitas Gärtner, a nun recorded in the Franciscan convent of Pütrich in Munich in 1516-40 (‘Bavaria Franciscana Antiqua’ III, 291). Her sisters Susanna and Euphrosina were scribes at Pütrich c.1520s-30s; the latter left a similar inscription in a couple of books (Schneider, ‘Die Deutschen Handschriften’, 31, 131). Although Karitas’s hand, quite similar to Susanna’s, it has not been formally identified among the surviving mss from Pütrich, she probably held the same role. The careful thumbing indicates the attentive and frequent reading that goes with the practical use of valuable reference works. The almanacs and calendars of Johannes Regiomontanus (Müller von Königsberg, 1436-76) had been especially popular since the late C15, and a very small number are in the vernacular. After studying at Leipzig and Vienna, Regiomontanus devoted himself to mathematics writing commentaries on ancient texts on algebra and arithmetic, and astronomy. After service to the King of Hungary as royal astronomer, he settled in Nuremberg where he established the first astronomical observatory. Whilst in Rome, summoned to assist with the calendar reform of Sixtus IV, he worked tirelessly to achieve a very sophisticated method to produce ephemerides. Remarkably written in the vernacular to cater for a broader audience, ‘Kalendarius Teütsch’ was a continuation of Regiomontanus’s original German almanac of 1475, spanning the years 1513-30. ‘Starting in the 1470s, above all in the cities of the Holy Roman Empire, the spread of popular astrology through printed vernacular calendars, prognostications, and medical tracts worked to undermine the qualitative variations of sacred and profane time, encouraging instead an approach to daily, seasonal, and historical duration as regular and measurable, grounded in the natural regularities of the heavens’ (Barnes, ‘Reforming Time’, 66). The ‘Kalendarius’ features tables showing the monthly calendar and saints’ days with the hours of sunrise and sunset and the position of the sun and moon, followed by astronomical diagrams indicating eclipses and the movements of the planets. The ‘Instrument of the Moon’, here complete with its original hand-coloured volvelles in fine condition, shows its movements accompanied by a quadrant for telling the hours of the day. The second part—decorated with handsome woodcuts of the zodiac, personified planets and constellations—explains their astral influence (also on the human body) and positions. An early C16 nun, involved in the agricultural activities of the convent, would have found this almanac fundamental to understand what and when to plant and harvest, following indications on the winds, duration of daytime and agricultural activities in relation to planetary movements.
No copies recorded in the US.
BM STC Ger., p. 631 (1512 and 1518 Augsburg German eds); Graesse IV, 587 (1478, 1489 and 1496 ed.). Not in Houzeau-Lancaster, Duveen or Cantamessa. R.B. Barnes, ‘Reforming Time’, in The Oxford Handbook of Protestant Reformations (Oxford, 2017), 64-82.