WORM, Ole.

Danicorum monumentorum libri sex (with) Regum Daniae series duplex et Limitum inter Daniam et Sveciam

Copenhagen, Joachim Moltke, 1643 and 1642


FIRST EDITIONS. 4to, two works in one, separate t-ps., pp. (xxiv) 526 (xviii); pp. (12) 35 (i). Roman and italic letter, some gothic, runic, second work printed in red and black. First t-p within handsome engraved architectural border with putti and bust of Christian IV of Denmark at head, standing figures with runic stones at the sides. Numerous woodcuts up to ¾ page illustrating Scandinavian antiquities and one large fold-out plate depicting the Golden Horn of Gallehus in first work. First t-p dusty with some marginal soiling, a few small spots and smudges to blank margins of following few ll., light age yellowing, very occasional browning, small tear from one upper blank margin, small holes to three ll. affecting just a couple of letters, c.1900 Gaddesden Library armorial bookplate (Halsey family of Gaddesden, Hertfordshire) to front paste-down, rare modern annotations in pencil.

The first systematic study of Scandinavian runic stones bound with Worm’s edition of the historical contents of the ‘Codex Runicus’, one of the few runic texts written on parchment. Both are beautifully printed using runic types, the second with sections highlighted in red.

Ole Worm (1588-1654) was a Danish physician, historian and antiquary, regarded as the father of Scandinavian archaeology. Personal physician to King Christian IV of Denmark, Worm worked as a professor of Latin, Greek, physics and medicine at the University of Copenhagen. He is best known for creating one of the most famous ‘cabinets of curiosities’ of his time: started during his grand tour of Europe and much enlarged, this collection contained all sorts of interesting objects, including fossils, bones, minerals, plants, stuffed animals and birds, archaeological and ethnographic artefacts. A complete catalogue of this collection was published with the title “Museum Wormianum” in 1654.

A pioneering and influential work, ‘Danicorum monumentorum’ is a six-part treatise on the antiquities of the Danish kingdom (Denmark, Norway and the south of modern Sweden), focusing in particular on inscribed and decorated runic stones. The core material used by Worm consisted in parochial reports on local antiquities, made in compliance with a royal edict issued by King Christian IV in 1622. After a general introduction on Scandinavian monuments and their significance, books 2- 6 are dedicated to presenting all the known runic inscriptions from different regions and provinces. The work contains countless fascinating engravings of monuments, landscapes, different types of stones with runes, coins, inscribed weapons and objects, many are now lost. Maps are often used to show the location of archaeological sites. The illustrations were realised on the basis of detailed sketches made by artists that Worm sent all over the kingdom. One large fold-out plate – here remarkably preserved in clean and clear impression – depicts the Golden Horn of Gallehus. This early 5th century horn, one of a pair, was discovered in 1639 and gifted to prince Christian of Denmark; Worm was the first to draw and describe it in his ‘De Aureo Cornu’ (1641). The horns were stolen and melted in 1802, while C18 casts were lost in a shipwreck: this illustration is the earliest and most accurate surviving evidence of their appearance.

The second work contains Worm’s edition of a few historical texts included in the Codex Runicus (about 1300), the oldest surviving codex of Nordic provincial law. These are ‘Regum Daniae series duplex’, two chronicles of Danish Kings from Frotho I up to Erik VI, and ‘Limitum inter Daniam et Sveciam’, a history of the fixing of the boundary between Sweden and Denmark, in which it is stated that Scåne (Scania, southern Sweden) belongs to Denmark according to an agreement of 1050 between the Danish and Swedish kings.

1) USTC 271089; Brunet V, p. 1478; Graesse VII, p. 475. Not in BM STC Low Countries 17 th century. 2) USTC 271066; Graesse VII, p. 475; see Brunet V, p. 1478. Not in BM STC Low Countries 17 th century.
Stock Number: L3946 Category: