8vo (150 x 91 mm). , 30, [1 blank] pp. Engraved frontispiece and 31 emblematic engraved plates, the first unnumbered, the rest numbered 1-30, the unnumbered plate signed Maria Philippina Küslen fecit, the rest unsigned but evidently also her work; the plates bound in pairs, back to back, each facing the relevant text page. Woodcut initials and tail-pieces, type ornament head-pieces. Some soiling and softening, archival reinforcements of gutters of first few leaves, frontispiece and a few other plate edges a bit frayed, one headline shaved, pl. 5 with small adhesion, just entering image, and small old patch-repair on verso, light dampstain to upper fore-corners. Late 18th or early 19th-century patterned paper boards, tastefully rebacked with modern pastepaper (extremities rubbed).***
A virtually unknown children’s book, consisting of a small-scale version for children of Krauss’s emblem book of angels, the Biblisches Engel- u. Kunst Werck, published in 1694 in folio format. The original engravings were intelligently reduced and modified by Krauss’s sister-in-law Maria Philippina Küsel. Devoted, like its model, to images and textual citations of the appearances of angels, their emissaries and other “supernatural” beings in the Bible, this little book bears witness to a relatively unstudied aspect of early modern publishing practice, the diversification and reuse of successful publishing “formulae,” by one of the pioneers of such marketing techiques, Johann Ulrich Krauss.
Through his publishing activities, Krauss became the most influential member of a dynasty of Augsburg artists, print-makers and cabinetmakers. The original Biblisches Engel- u[nd] Kunst Werck, the first of his religious publications, used an innovative visual presentation, which Krauss would follow in his vast Historische Bilder-Bibel, published in 1698-1700: in the uppermost portion of each of the 34 engravings was a large Biblical scene in rectangular format, while the lower half contained a smaller, related scene (or cluster of scenes) within various emblematic and ornamental borders. The explanatory caption and 12-line German poem were engraved at the top and between the two parts of the engravings. Krauss’s engravings synthesized images and motifs from the extensive stock of his Krauss workshop, including designs by Matthäus Merian, architectural designs by Andrea Pozzo, Melchior Küsel’s engraved reproductions of series by J. W. Baur, and ornamental designs by Jean Lepautre, Charles Le Brun, Gabriel Perelle, Stefano della Bello, Nicolas Sanson, and Agostino Mitelli (Augsburger Barock, pp. 411-412).
In this “baby” edition, the explanatory text for each plate, which reprints the original engraved text, is printed in letterpress on the facing page. The preliminaries are the same, except that this edition replaces the dedication to Kaiser Leopold with a rather humbler dedication to children, a 7-page "Vorrede und Zuschrift an die Gott- und Tugend-liebende zarte Kinder-Jugend," in which Krauss declares his desire to plant the seeds of pious habits in children and youth.
Other than the frontispiece, which copies Krauss’s original, Küsel fine engravings modify the plates of the larger edition in various ways. First, they contain no engraved text. Secondly, Küsel’s adaptations of the upper scenes usually eliminate some architectural or background detail, and select salient details to focus on. Most, but not all, are in reverse. In the lower portions are one to five roundels (occasionally overlapping) on unadorned backgrounds, without the elaborate rococo borders of the original plates, the roundels containing an adaptation of the religious scenes shown in the original engraving, once or twice including a new scene not in the original (e.g., plate 10).
The Krauss enterprise was a family business, and everyone worked, including the women. Maria Philippina Küsel, born in 1676, was one of two younger sisters of Johann Ulrich’s wife Johanna Sibylla Krauss, née Küsel. All three daughters had been trained in engraving by their father Melchior Küsel, and all three worked for the Krauss enterprise (the heir of Melchior’s engraving firm) often anonymously. These engravings are uniformly in the same fine and delicate style, and Küsel’s signature is prominently displayed on the first plate; it thus appears likely that all of the plates were produced by her.
Plate wear shows that this edition post-dates the only other known edition of the plates, printed by Johann Christoph Wagner, ca. 1700, for Krauss. Occasional cracks in the plates, e.g., pl. 11, are not found in the Wolfenbüttel copy of the Wagner edition. The printer Johann Jakob Lotter senior (1683-1738) was active in Augsburg from 1705 until his death, according to VD18 (which does not list the present edition). As Maria Philippina Küsel married a preacher named Renz in 1705, after which she presumably stopped working, this edition probably dates to 1705 or 1706
This edition is not to be confused with the 1702 edition of the entire Historische Bilder-Bibel, including the Engel-Werck, which contained smaller reversed copies of the original plates, including the engraved text, also by Maria Philippina Küsel and by her sister Johanna Sibylla Krauss. That 1702 edition (of which the Bavarian State Library is digitized) and its plates are much larger than this one, the engravings are different, and it includes no letterpress text; nor was it explictly intended for children, as this one is.
Of great rarity: OCLC and KVK locate a single copy of this Lotter edition (Danish Union Catalogue) and two copies of the Wagner edition (Herzog August Bibliothek and Wurttembergische Landesbibliothek). Cf. VD17 23:682962H (Wagner edition); cf. Augsburger Barock 596 and 598. On the artists, cf. Thieme-Becker 22:74. Not in Brüggemann & Brunken or Wegehaupt. Item #2907