Pronosticatio. Johannes LIECHTENBERGER.
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Pronosticatio
Prophecies to Lead--or Fight--the Reformation.

Pronosticatio

A fine, compact edition of Johannes Liechtenberger's Pronosticatio latino, and the first to feature Anton Woensam von Worms's lively integral woodcuts. Liechtenberger's reputation as an astrologer and seer has always been suspect (even when he was alive), but his book's renown as a publishing phenomenon is unassailable. It is this unlikely duality that preoccupies scholars and bibliographers to this day. Since the book's first appearance in print at Heidelburg in 1488, no fewer than eleven further incunable editions in four languages appeared, and at least 65 sixteenth-century editions in half a dozen languages. What was it that made this book—which was essentially a plagiary; a comely arrangement of other men's flowers; a gleaning in the field of reapers—so succesful? Its illustrations, for one. Liechtenberger had given specific instructions for woodcuts to be produced that would illuminate and contextualize his prophecies, and for the imagery to be bold and large. Our edition, one of the earliest in a small ocatvo, is a result of the collaboration between Cologne publisher Peter Quentell and the artist and engraver Anton Woensam von Worms, who remained true to Liechtenberger's original vision for his book. Woensam produced a fresh suite of 38 woodcuts (eight of which are repeated in our book, for a total of 46 illustrations), preserving original iconographic detail while also appealing to contemporary sensibilities. Bold, expository imagery was not the only reason the book was a success. Though the text begins with a definition of prophecy, and Liechtenberger states that he was inspired to write his book by the spectable of the conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn in Scorpio in November 1484, and the solar eclipse the following year, his astrological arguments are not rigorous or scientific (Liechtenberger had arrived at the profession in an unorthodox way, having no background in science or medicine, somehow getting his start as astrologer to the court of Friedrich III in the 1470s), and his prophecies were vague, general, and low-risk. They were open to wide interpretation. Indeed, by the advent of the Reformation, the Pronosticatio was held aloft by both Catholics and Protestants, with salient passages highlighted, to further their respective agendas. (Luther even wrote a long, laudatory preface to a 1527 German-language edition of the Pronosticatio.) Liechtenberger, for all his success, has suffered in his reputation, and was even disrespected while he was alive. Some of his more pessimistic prophecies (that certain heads of state would die gruesomely) got him into trouble, and Inquisitor Jakob Sprenger (of Malleus Maleficarum fame) called for his arrest, though Liechtenberger was rescued by well-connected friends. Paul of Middelburg considered Lichtenberger a hack and a dilettante. Modern scholar of astrology Dietrich Kurze openly calls Liechtenburger a plagiarist; and bibliographer of astrological literature Leandro Cantamessa does not consider the Pronosticatio to be based on true astrological principles. But others celebrate his work, including Paracelsus, Luther, and scholar Lynn Thorndike. The Pronosticatio was conclusively the most influential, accessible, and visually arresting of all prognostications of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries; the limitations of its author only add to the  book's persistent interest to scholars of the history of astrological prophecy.


Full title: PRONO | STICATIO IOHANNIS LIE | chtenbergers iam denuo ſubla | tis mendis, quibus ſcate- | bat pluribus, quam | diligentiſſime | excuſſa. | Anno M. D. XXVIII. [Colophon, L3v]: ¶Excuſum eſt hoc prognoſticum Impe[n] | ſis honeſti uiri Petri Quentel, Ci | uis Colonienſis, Menſe Ianuario. Anno mil | leſimo quingenteſimo uiceſimooctauo.

Cologne: Peter Quentell, 1528.

Octavo, 144 x 94 x 15 mm (binding), 142 x 93 x 13 mm (text block). A-K8 L4; [84] ff. Seventeenth-century sprinkled sheep, modern calfskin reback titled in gilt on morocco lettering-piece PROG | NAST | ICAT; green silk book marker Interior: Pale dampstain to title, some fingersoiling, last leaves dusty.

Provenance:

Early custodial signature in ink to title, marked out and illegible; initials G J in same hand; two mid-twentieth-century German booksellers' listings clipped and stuck to lower pastdown (the same description in each—likely the same seller—with only a price differential); ex-libris to upper pastedown of Hanns-Theo Schmitz-Otto, famed twentieth-century collector of books produced in  his native Cologne; a later Schmitz-Otto ex-libris below this; numerous modern cataloguers' notations in ink and pencil to verso of first free end, some in Schmitz-Otto's hand; very early bookseller's two-word MS descriptor and price (demonomania rari 6-); a note in a late nineteenth-century hand citing Nodier ("très rare") to same; a penciled remark noting this copy was offered at at 1950 Karl & Faber auction as lot 971, then again in 1954 as lot 2961, and sold to a certain Klinkenberg.

Cantamessa 4152 [1528] (reporting that this edition has an introduction by Luther; it does not); Houzeau-Lancaster 5536; VD-16 L1593; Zinner 1361; Muther 1657; Caillet II 6683; cf Benzing 2403-6 (1527 German editions); Kurze, Dietrich, "Johannes Lichtenberger (+1503)," Studie zur Geschichte der Prophetie und Astrologie, Lübeck: Matthiesen, 1960, pp. 81–7; Kurze, Dietrich, "Popular Astrology and Prophecy in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries: Johannes Lichtenberger," Astrologi hallucinati, Berlin: Degruyter, 1986 pp. 177-194; Olszewsky, Hans-Josef, "Johannes Lichtenberger," BBKL Vol 3 Herzberg: Bautz, 1993, cols. 461–4; Green, Jonathan, Printing and Prophecy: Prognostication and Media Change 1450-1550, Ann Arbor: MUP, 2012, p. 39.

Item #237

Price: $6,200.00