Lot 88
  • 88


15,000 - 20,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Single leaf from a block book [Schreiber's edition III]. [The Netherlands, c. 1465-1470]
  • vellum, ink
leaf 19, folio (262 x 190mm.), printed in light brown ink on one side of the paper, woodcut text and illustrations, comprising two scenes with three captions, the text of the first starting "Hic sedet antichristus in templo salomonis", framed and glazed, tipped onto backing sheet, margins cut close, light foxing, a few small marginal repairs


Rev. John Griffith (1806-1885), of Oxford, print collector, small ink stamp J.G. on verso (Lugt 1464), sales, Sotheby's, 9-10 May 1883 and 29 January 1886; Streck, old framing label on verso of frame (from a New York company, backing sheet now detached)


BMC i 3 (IC. 40); Schreiber, Manuel IV, p.163 onwards

Catalogue Note

A RARE BLOCK BOOK LEAF. The earliest block books seem to have been created as Gutenberg was at work on his printing experiments with movable type. They were predominantly produced in the Netherlands and the Rhineland around Cologne. They were books for popular consumption, containing texts such as the Ars Moriendi, picture Bibles and in particular the Apocalypse, all of which are visually interesting texts. This leaf contains images of the Antichrist being worshipped in the Temple of Solomon followed by the wrath of God casting him down. The leaves of block books were usually paired; this is the left hand side of the two plates signed "k". The watermark is a gothic Y with a trefoil tail; there is a copy of the book in the Royal Library, Copenhagen (lacking 2 leaves), which has a pair of gothic Y watermarks with a trefoil tail (similar to Briquet 9195-9197 but not identical to any of those). Allan Stevenson (in "The problem of the blockbooks", in Blockbücher des Mittelalters, Mainz, 1991) examines more fully the paper stocks of the Schreiber editions, and opines that the Copenhagen copy could be dated to c. 1469 on paper made at Ville-sur-Saulx.

Schreiber opines that the block book Apocalypses were copied from an exemplar of c. 1460-1465 with woodcut illustrations and manuscript captions; he remains uncertain whether editions I or III were produced first. The differences between the two editions are shown by the more clumsy engraving of this edition III and in particular the appearance of the eyes, "presque toutes des yeux de boeuf", according to Schreiber.