LUTHER, Martin


LUTHER, Martin Die furnemsten und besten schrifften…von den beiden Sacramenten des Newen Testaments

Berlin, Nikolaus Voltz, 1589


FIRST EDITION. Small 4to. ff. (xxvii) 529. Large Gothic letter, t-p in red and black, decorated initials and ornaments. Uniform age browning, t-p dust-soiled, minimal marginal spotting, few small wormholes or trails to outer margin or gutter of couple of gatherings, slight thumbing to first few ll. A good copy in contemporary, richly stamped pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, two clasps, triple blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with roll of leafy tendrils in blind, centre panel (gilt, somewhat oxidized) with (upper cover) arms of Katharina von Brandenburg-Küstrin surmounted by crowned heart with monogram IFK, acronyms IFTGIAD and KVGGVMZB, and (lower cover) oval surrounded by German motto with scene of the Crucifixion, the Holy Lamb and decorated cornerpieces, raised bands, loss towards foot of lower joint, small flaw to upper cover. C20 stamp ‘Karl Höhne Pastor’ to recto and C18 inscription to verso of fep, faded early ms ex-libris ‘Clementis Zimmer (?)’ to t-p.

This copy features on the upper cover the arms of Katharina of Brandenburg-Küstrin (1549-1608), in 18 quarterings, styled as ‘Katharina von Gottes Gnaden und Markgräfin zu Brandenburg’ (‘KVGGVMZB’). She was the daughter of the margrave Johann of Küstrin and, after 1570, wife of the Elector Joachim III Friedrich of Brandenburg. The acronym (‘IFTGIAD’) stands for ‘Ich fürchte traue Gott in allen Dingen’ (‘I fear God above everything’), and the monogram IFK for ‘Joachim Friedrich and Katharina’. On the lower cover is an oval with the Crucifixion, the Virgin, St John and the Holy Lamb. Three other copies have binding, at the Berliner Stadtbibliothek, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and University of Göttingen library. The head-rolls in the Gottingen copy, which bears the same figurative plates as this copy, point to the Berlin bookbinder Bastian Heyde, influenced by the Dresden binders Jacob Krause and Caspar Meuser (von Rabenau, ‘Buchbinder des 16. und 17. Jahrunderts in Berlin’, 274-75). The binding was made for presentation and commissioned by the publisher Nicolaus Voltz, the only printer in Berlin at the time. Indeed, Katharina’s funeral sermon of 1602, celebrating her philanthropic attitude, praised how she had requested the printing of this particular work from the former Franciscan monastery in Berlin—the seat of the first printing press of the city after 1571. These copies, most probably with this binding, were donated to local churches and communities (Gedicke, ‘Eine Christlicher Predigt’, 60; Drexl, ‘Weiberfeinde’, 315).

Handsome copy of this scarce edition of Martin Luther on the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. A professor of theology and monk, Luther (1483-1546) altered the scenario of European politics and religion beginning from 1517, when he expressed his harsh criticism of the Catholic sale of indulgences (known as ‘The Ninety-Five Theses’). This collection features his sermons on Baptism, one delivered by Luther’s collaborator, Caspar Creuziger, in 1535, on the Eucharist, his treatise against the heavenly prophets, and an epistle on Psalm 72. Luther argued that, like all sacraments, baptism had been established by God, in this case through the baptism of Christ. Most importantly, God was present both in the Word and physical gesture of the baptismal formula. Similarly, the commemoration of the Last Supper embodied for Luther the sacrament of the Eucharist itself, where Christ was present in body and blood. This edition reprised, in content and layout, that published by Hans Lufft in Wittenberg in 1575.

Only Yale and Bethel copies recorded in the US.Not in BM STC Ger. (1575 ed.); Brunet, Graesse or Benzing. K. von Rabenau, ‘Buchbinder des 16. und 17. Jahrunderts in Berlin’, Bibliothek und Wissenschaft 29 (1996), 229-91; H. Kind, Die Luthersammlung der Niedersächsischen Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen (Göttingen, 1970), 18-19; S. Gedicke, Eine Christliche Predigt bey Niedersetzung…der…Frawe Catharina (Leipzig, 1603); M. Drexl, Weiberfeinde – Weiberfreunde?: Die Querelle des femmes im Kontext konfessioneller Konflikte um 1600 (Campus, 2006).
Stock Number: L3047 Category:

In stock