GAILKIRCHER, Wilhelm Quadriga aeternitatis universi generis humani meta

Munich, Raphael Sadeler, 1619


FIRST EDITION. 8vo., pp. (10), 124, (2). Roman and Italic letter, little Greek; engraved title within border with four opposing oval depictions of heaven and hell, 9 half-page engraved emblems by Sadeler, decorative and typographical head-pieces, engraved printer’s device on colophon; mainly marginal foxing, clean tear to A4, repair to gutter of penultimate leaf, just affecting one letter of colophon. A good copy in very fine straight grained c. 1800 red morocco, gilt crest of the 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840) within blind-tooled fenestration, gilt-ruled panel with blind-rolled floral decoration, spine richly gilt and tooled on bands and nerves with title and editorial data, all edges gilt; bookplate of Samuel Ashton Thompson Yates, 1894, on front pastedown.

First and only edition of a rare moral and devotional book of emblems. Very little is known about the author. Gailkircher was born in Munich and later became canon of S. Maurice in Augsburg and a respected Catholic Neo-Latin poet. This is his only published work, in which Gailkircher mixed the wisdom of the ancient philosophers and writers – Plato and his followers in particular – with Christian precepts, so as to devise a guide for heaven (‘Charriot of Aeternitas’). Virtuous examples and mottos are provided along with some remarkable engraved illustrations by Sadeler, including the Last Rites, Last Judgment, Hell, Christ as Salvator Mundi, Virgin and Child, the navicula Petri and an allegorical depiction of Vices. The Quadriga is dedicated to the secretary of the archbishop of Cologne.

This copy was bound for the well-known English collector, George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766-1840), Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. His crest, a griffin’s head between two wings expanded out of a ducal coronet, appears on the covers surmounted by two crowns, one for the dukedom, the other for the Spencer barony. Most of his family fortune was spent on books and antiquities, which he amassed on his estate at Whiteknights Park at Earley, near Reading.

No recorded copies in the US. Not in Brunet. Graesse, VI, 212; Landwehr, German, 302; Praz, Studies, 345.
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