The oldest vernacular explanation of the Latin Mass in print
38 Auslegung – Messe singen oder lesen wer das thun sol,wenn, wie oder wo[Nuremberg: Friedrich Creussner, not after 1482.] First edition.
2°, 298 x 210 mm. 92 leaves, complete variant. Quire (i) has been reset, now including 4 instead of 8 leaves. – Printed space 210 x 130 mm, 38 lines, Creussner’s type 1:110G for the text and 2:165G for headings. Red painted initials throughout, a larger initial in red and blue at the beginning of the text, 1 contemporary coloured woodcut frontispiece. – Wide margins, fine condition throughout. Occasionally slight spotting, minor worming at the beginning, leaves a4-a5 loose. – Typical Augsburg ‘Buchführereinband’ (bookseller’s binding) coming from the workshop ‘Blüte frei’ (following Kyriss). Dark brown blind-stamped calf: a narrow roll surrounding a rectangular field of foliate tools, which are arranged to rhomboids and filled in with flower stamps (Kyriss 77, 1st group, stamp 1 and 2). Few wormholes.The two clasps are missing, but the catches still preserved, rebacked presumably in the 19th century, slightly worn. Leaves of a German juridical print have been used as front and back pastedown.
PROVENANCE:Livres Anciens Maurice Bridel, Lausanne. Catalogue de trés beaux livres. 1948, no. 8.
TEXT: First of only three incunabular editions. The Auslegung der Heiligen Messe is the oldest complete German explanation of the Latin Mass, written in the middle of the 15th century. After an introductory disquisition on the priestly office and on the necessity for celebrating Mass, the book begins with Gaudeamus omnes in domino diem festum celebrantes ... All parts of the Mass including canons are translated into the vernacular and provided with a commentary.The text of our print is most likely based on a manuscript tradition, as preserved in Berlin (Staatsbibliothek, ms.germ.fol. 1287).The author of the text remains anonymous, but was presumably a secular cleric in the diocese of Augsburg. He based his text on the ordinarium missae of the Augsburg missale dating 1386, and on the Missa de visitatione beatae Mariae Virginis. Other sources are Thomas a Kempis’ Imitatio Christi, St Augustine and Albertus Magnus. Franz R. Reichert edited the text in 1967. Presumably, the vernacular explanation of the Latin Mass was intended to forestall proto-reformation ideas on the celebration of the sacrament, but although it was in print until the 16th century, it lacked a satisfactory theological basis and thus remained, theologically speaking, without issue.
PRINT: This edition is undated, but in one of the Munich copies there is a manuscript entry of 1484 (“M.cccc.lxxxiiij Jahre”), which served as a basis for the dating in the GW (no. 3085). However, a copy of the ÖNB in Vienna contains a manuscript rubrication giving the date “Anno LXXXII,” thus Creussner’s Auslegung der heiligen Messe appeared not later than 1482, and hence earlier than Bämler’s Augsburg edition of 1484 (cf. Reichert 1967, p. XXVIf). The present variant contains 92 leaves instead of 96, because quire (i) has been reset, now including 4 instead of 8 leaves.“The consecrational wording is missing, although even the German prayers have been printed with a marked type. Most likely, this difference is based on a verdict by the archbishop Berthold von Henneberg of Mainz, dated 22 March 1485” (GW 3085 note).
PRINTER: Friedrich Creussner was one of the first printers in Nuremberg and his first dated book was printed in 1472. “Although Anton Koberger must have been a serious competitor in business for him, Creussner was able to publish about 140 carefully printed books (…) and ca. 40 single leaf prints by the end of the 15th century”(Geldner 1968, p. 169).
RARITY: Rare. Only 38 copies survived worldwide (cf. ISTC), 8 of which are incomplete. Most known copies are recorded in Germany, whereas in the British Isles and the US there are only 8, with 11 in the rest of Europe.We were not able to trace any copy in private hands.
LITERATURE: Hain 1826, 2143; BMC II, p. 452; GW 3085; Schreiber no. 4643; Schramm 1920, XVIII, pl. 332; Kyriss 1951, 77; Goff 1964, A-1395; Reichert 1967; Geldner 1968, I, p. 167f; Rosenwald 1977, no. 109 (copy with 92 leaves); BSB-Ink A-942 (92 leaves);Verfasserlexikon VI, col. 446-448; ISTC: ia01395000.