Bound with: FREDRO, Andrzej Maksymilian (ca. 1620-1679). Staats- und Sittenlehren, sam[m]t einer wesentlichen Abbildung der unterschiedlichen Gemühts-Beschaffenheiten, aus dem Lateinen in Hochdeutsch übersetzt. Frankfurt: Johannes Haass for Martin Hermsdorff, 1684. 2 vols. in one, 12mo (134 x 76 mm). Kopsch: , 175, [1 bl.] pp. Additional engraved title, signed Erone inv. et fecit, eighteen engraved plates of emblems; woodcut pictorial initials and tailpieces. Slight crease in engraved title, else an impeccable copy. Fredro (bound first): , 447 (recte 470),  pp., 1 leaf errata, 3 blank leaves. Folding engraved frontispiece of an allegorical female figure of Justice, by J. J. Vogel. Two lines of title shaved. Contemporary vellum over pasteboards, ms. titles on backstrip, edges blue-sprinkled, bound with 33 blank leaves at end. ***
Only Edition of an overlooked emblem book, written and illustrated by a woman.
This rare edition was no doubt published in a small pressrun for the literary society to which Kopsch belonged. The work contains 18 chapters, each containing an essay on a different moral question, illustrated with an engraved emblem. Although described in the title as translations from the French, no French authors’ or poets’ names are cited. Kopsch may have adapted various essays by different authors, possibly including Montaigne; or perhaps presenting the work as a translation was a way of playing down the presumption of a woman daring to write reflective moral essays. (The author’s gender is made clear in the preliminary matter, see below.)
Subjects covered are: how to arm oneself against desires, on the choice of occupations, on carefulness, on the different professions, how one should govern oneself in life, on changing circumstances, on choosing friends, on dissumulation, on vanity, on well-being, on comparing one’s own happiness to others’, on life’s troubles (Widerwertigkeiten), on sadness, on defending the pious, on the mistakes of others, on insults and complaints, on poverty, and on death. Each essay ends with an emblem accompanied by an explanation in prose (Erklärung des Sinnbildes), and a poem. The emblems include: a putto-alchemist (with caption “On killing nothingness [or the void]”), a vine winding around a pole and a shovel (”it curls around both”), the sun and the moon in the heavens (” they are both necessary”), a crocodile shedding crocodile tears (the tears deceive”), and a magnifiying glass showing fleas (”it only appears big”). The figures are set within ornamental frames with cartouches for the captions below,
Barbara Helena Kopsch, née Lang, was a member of the Pegnesischer Blumenorden (the Pegnitz Flower Society). One of the very few Baroque literary societies to admit women, it is (perhaps not coincidentally?) the only one that still exists today. Founded in Nürnberg in 1644 by Georg Philipp Harsdörfer, Johann Klaj, and Sigmund Betelius (later “von Birken”), on the model of the Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft, the society, whose Arcadia was the banks of the river Pegnitz (which flows through Nürnberg), cultivated witty pastoral verse, “marked by linguistic play, including onomatopoiea, assonance, and internal rhyme” (Watanabe-O’Kelly).
The members, who called themselves Pegnitz Shepherds (Pegnitz Schäfer or Hirten) took erudite Greek names of flowers; Lang-Kopsch’s was Erone (Helenium). She was admitted into the Society in 1679, at the age of 23. The Pegnesischer Blumenorden website (!) records that she was the 68th member to join, and that she married Nicolaus Kopsch two years after publishing this collection, and moved to Berlin. In the Pegnitz Festschrift of 1744, Johann Herdegen (Amarantes) described her as a highly competent linguist who was also skilled in the arts: “she wrote German and French verse, and also translated from Latin in French; she also knew how to draw and paint and cut images and scripts in ivory and alabaster” (”schrieb deutsche und französische Verse. Übersetzte auch aus dem Lateinischen ins Französische, konnte zeichnen, malen, Bilder und Schriften aus Elfenbein und Alabaster schneiden”) .
In the dedication to the reader, this talented woman expresses her hope that the reader will be just sharp-sighted enough to discern the good intentions behind the work, but not so eagle-eyed as to notice its faults. She describes the “sparks” that reading the enclosed essays and poems set alight in her, which inspired her to draw the accompanying emblems, and hopes that readers unversed in French will derive similar benefits from her work. She concludes by declaring her indifference to those who think women should only master the arts of sewing and cooking, and, to those who view her undertaking as wishing for enemies (Feind-Begierde, i.e., asking for trouble?), she laughs at their zealousness, for a fighter cannot win without enemies...
The laudatory poems are signed by Myrtillus (Martin Limburger, who succeeded Sigmund von Birken as Director in 1681) and Celadon (Christof Adam Negelein).
Three other copies are recorded, at the Herzog August Bibliothek, the University of Munich, and UNC Chapel Hill.
VD1732:692606M (HAB only). Not in Dunnhaupt, Faber du Faur, Goedeke, Jantz, Landwehr, Praz, Thieme Becker, or Hayn-Gotendorf. Cf. Watanabe-O’Kelly, Cambridge History of German Literature, p. 122; and Sigmund von Birken, Floridans Amaranten-Garte (Tübingen 2009), part 2, p. 915.
Fredro: First German edition of a popular work on political economy, first published in Latin in Danzig 1664. Fredro was a Polish noble who earned respect for his service as military commander of the Podolian Voivodeship; his several historical works earned him a reputation as the "Polish Tacitus.” This copy contains an errata leaf not recorded by VD-17 (which locates 3 copies in Germany). VD1739:136566G. Item #2905