Almanach und Practica auf das Jahr 1490.Basel, Michael Furter, [1489/90]
Broadside, on paper. 287 x 412mm, 1 sheet (2 joined halves), 60 lines, lower half only (but textually self-contained). Gothic letter (1:83G, 16:160G), in red and black, in German. Watermark: P surmounted by four-leaf clover. Diagrammatic astrological horoscope at head, 2 small woodcut moon eclipses to centre. Divided vertically into two halves to serve as pastedowns, crudely repaired to blank verso, minor loss along juncture, slightly affecting diagram, one woodcut and a dozen words (but not legibility), traces of ancient binding glue to upper, lower and right-hand margin, and to verso of left-hand half, very slight browning, left-hand edge untrimmed, few small scattered worm holes, mostly to right-hand half, affecting couple of letters, handful of minor worm trails to extreme blank margins, upper edge trimmed (touching head of title) and crudely strengthened to blank verso, couple of minor clean superficial tears without loss, mostly repaired, towards centre on right-hand half. Contemporary or near contemporary ms. ‘164’, c.1700 ms. casemark D.D.II.16 and large ms. W (in pencil) at foot.
A rare ephemeral survival of the incunabular era – a substantial, well-preserved fragment of this medico-astrological broadside in German for the year 1490, one of the earliest works published (signed and dated) by Michael Furter in Basle. As often with incunabular ephemera, it has survived in the form of binding waste, into which it was probably turned not long after 1490, when it ceased to be relevant. Marcus Schinagel (or Schynnaghel, 1464-1520) was a Polish-Bohemian mathematician, astrologer and astronomer; in the colophon of the present broadside, which also provides an imprint, he identifies himself as professor at Krakow – a form of advertisement. Indeed, his successful ‘Almanach und Practica’ was issued almost yearly between 1487 and 1493, 1491 dedicated to Emperor Maximilian.
Schinagel’s broadside is a very rare, early hybrid of the two genres of the ‘Practica’ and ‘Almanach’ (Kremer, p.353), which achieved tremendous success with the development of the print market. The term ‘Practica’ developed in German print workshops of the 1470s to mean annual prognostications for the year; these were not typical of almanacs, however, which focused instead on astrological computations for moveable feasts and syzygy, bloodletting and medicine-taking rules for the young and old (Kremer, pp.345, 356). The present fragment includes monthly rules for bloodletting and the administration of medicaments (electuar, pillule), according to one’s zodiac sign, the four humours and the phases of the moon; a horoscope for 1490; and 11 world prognostications concerning, for instance, the fortunes/misfortunes (especially military) of the Jews, Christians, Muslims, Tatars and Turks, as well as those pertaining to the various ‘Stände’ (occupations, estates), such as cardinals, bishops, princes and aristocrats (e.g., the year will bring luck, but in the summer sickness may strike) – who were often the patrons of astrologers – monks, soldiers, women and common people (e.g., work opportunities, sales/purchases). An astrological source is also mentioned – ‘Haomor un[d] Tiberiades’ (i.e., the Persian astrologer Omar Tiberiades) – an infrequent detail in such publications.
Only fragments of this edition survive, at Heidelberg (ink. 1621), the BL (IA.10841, IA.10832) and Conception Abbey. In their bibliography of Heidelberg incunables, Schlechter/Ries postulate Heidelberg ink. 1621 to be fragments of a proofsheet for a subsequent edition (recorded only in Heidelberg ink. 1622). As compared to ink. 1621, ink. 1622 features a few variations, in spelling (e.g., a different M in the imprint, without an umlaut in one ‘Gut’, ‘trank’ for ‘tranck’). Minor changes to the woodcut astrological horoscope and the fact that the ink. 1621 fragments were found in a C15 binding produced in Constance suggest these editions were intended for use in different, though nearby, cities.ISTC is00335000; Goff S335; BMC II 583; GW 1447/1448; Copinger 2277 + 2281; Sudhoff 403 + 408; Schlechter/Ries 1621, 1622; VE15 S-10. Not in Durling, Wellcome, Cantamessa or Houzeau-Lancaster. R.L. Kremer, ‘Incunable Almanacs and Practica as Practical Knowledge Produced in Trading Zones’, in The Structures of Practical Knowledge, ed. M. Valleriani (2017), pp.333-70.