ANONYMOUS (c.1553)


Folio (327 x 213 mm), pp. 18, 1, 19-125, 1, 126-197, 20. Gothic letter, red and black throughout. Engraved pictorial title showing Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria within an architectural setting, surrounded by five councillors, lion at feet, receiving the statute book. Title on scroll supported by putti, above arms of the Dukes of Bavaria. Woodcut of a measuring rod and a crayfish on page 153 verso, three folding plates with ten woodcuts of freshwater fish recto and verso. Woodcut initials. Contemporary binding of German blindstamped pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, roll-tool panels of Biblical scenes and allegorical depictions, original brass clasps and catches completely intact. Library label pasted on the innerside of frontboard and small library stamp on the bottom of front paper, not affecting the engraving. An exceptionally well preserved copy with contemporary blindstamped pigskin and original brass claps,


The subjects covered by the Bavarian Provincial Ordinance include capital crimes, civil law, trade, Jews, gypsies, the Church, musicians, public health, beer and wine. The laws give an interesting insight into sixteenth century thinking on many topics. For instance the so called "Reinheitsgebot"or code of purity for Bavarian beers and the laws regarding fishing. Fish was an important staple food at that time. The book functioned as a fisheries manual to ensure that the fishing was properly regulated. The species illustrated are crayfish, chub, salmon, grayling, trout, roach, barbel, pike, asp, carp and bream, originating from Bavarian lakes, the Danube and its tributaries. The depiction of the asp was copied by Gessner for his Historiae Animalium, Liber IV (1558), a prevailing work on aquatic animals at the time. Gessner included the illustration of the asp alongside that of the pike-perch and added text explaining which information he obtained from which sources. To help in the enforcement of the Bavarian laws the illustrations were used to assist in the identification of the various fish species. The drawings were also employed in conjunction with a measuring rod, to ensure that undersize fish were not taken. Nissen, 1969, in his work on zoological book illustrations has ranked the Bairische Landts Ordnung as number three in his chronological list of oldest books with fish illustrations. Provenance: Bibliotheca Capucinorum Burghusil. Nissen, 1969, ZBI 4570.

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