124: Manuscript Rolewinck’s Fasciculus Temporum 1471
Title: Fasciculus temporum – manuscript on vellum
Author: Rolewinck, Werner
Description: 30 leaves, vellum, plus blanks at front and rear. In Latin. Handwritten in brown and red ink, with numerous roundels in red; three miniature paintings in colors, one of them with gold leaf; large, elaborate initial in red and blue leading off the text, several smaller initials in red or blue. 43.5x30.5 cm. (17¼x12”), 17th century paneled calf with gilt tooling, paper endpapers and flyleaves. In custom-made quarter leather and cloth folding box.Extremely rare manuscript on vellum of the Fasciculus temporum - one of only thirteen known manuscript copies and the only known copy in private hands - done in grand format. Written by the 15th century monk and historian Werner Rolewinck (1425–1502), the Fasciculus is a history of the world with dual parallel timelines dating both from creation and the birth of Christ. The first history of the world to be printed (by Arnold ther Hoernen, in Cologne in 1474) the Fasciculus was immensely popular, going through 30 editions before 1500, and has the claim to be the bestselling 15th century book by a contemporary author. The Fasciculus was apparently the second publication of a living author, seeming to be predated only by Robertus Valturius’ De re militari (1472). The evolution of the work from manuscript to printed version is a key question for scholars. According to the colophon of the 1474 first edition, Rolewinck provided the Cologne printer Arnold ther Hoernen with a manuscript-layout for his use. In translation the colophon of the printed edition reads, "following the first exemplar which this venerable author himself wrote by hand completely." Given that so few pre-publication manuscripts of the Fasciculus are extant (only seven of the thirteen known manuscripts predate the printed book), any example is an aid to helping scholarship resolve this issue. The dating of this manuscript is in part dependent on the fact that 1464 is the final date recorded in the chronology, whereas the printed text ends with 1474. Of further note is the large size of the present manuscript, done in “Grand Format,” dwarfing the printed version. The leaves are 43.5 cm. (17¼”) tall, much larger than the 29 cm. (11½”) of the 1474 printed version. This allows fuller utilization of the elaborate roundel format, with an elegance and beauty not available in the printed version. This grand format is a characteristic of the pre-publication manuscripts only - post-1474 manuscripts typically followed the smaller format of the printed book. The printed version did have a series of small woodcut illustrations, markedly different from the three beautifully executed miniature paintings in this manuscript, which are of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in the manger; Christ nailed to the cross; and a resurrected Christ, a halo of tooled gold leaf surrounding his head, holding a gold leaf orb that is also delicately tooled.
Heading: Place Published:
Date Published: c.1471-1473
A minor stain to the front cover; light marginal stain to blank vellum leaf at front, smaller light stain to first leaf of text touching about four words; some faint offset within and slight bleeding from dampness, still in fine condition. With modern symbolic bookplate on front pastedown, “Philosophia Hermetica.” Of great rarity, a unique opportunity.