8vo (148 x 89 mm). , 267,  pp. 12 engravings in text, woodcut and typographic head- and tailpieces, large folding letterpress table. Fine condition. Stitched with a drawn-on Brokatpapier cover, the edges cut flush and sprinkled with a red pigment.***
A devotional confraternity book produced for members of the Marian sodality (or confraternity) of Salzburg University’s Congregation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Maior Congregatio Academica Beatissimae Virginis in Caelos Assumptae). Although called orationes or prayers, the text consists of sermons or exhortations for feast days throughout the year. Inserted are 12 leaves each devoted to a different saint, arranged by order of feast days, one per month, with an engraving on the recto showing the saint within an oval cartouche surrounded by scenes from his or her life, above the saint’s feast day in large letters, a short quotation from a church father, and two related aphorisms or resolutions, with on the verso a life of the saint. The title describes the book as a “gift” offered to members; these “gift books” for the sodality were apparently published annually (see below), but are now not surprisingly quite rare.
Following the text is a table of contents, and, in the last five leaves, a catalogue of new members of the sodality, categorized by discipline (theology, law, physics and logic), followed by a list of members deceased in 1753 and 1754. The large folding table preceding this section lists the highest officials and council members of the “Marian Magistrature”. The largest name is that of the Prinz-Archbishop, Sigismundus Christophorus, followed by his many titles. Sigismundus, Graf von Schrattenbach (1698-1771), Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg from 1753 to 1771, was particularly devoted to the cult of the Virgin, and during his tenure Marian devotion reached a high point in Salzburg. It was also during this time that Leopold Mozart played violin in the court orchestra; his son Wolfgang Amadeus was born in Salzburg in 1756.
Other books for the sodality are recorded, under various titles, for different years, between 1740 and 1765, all printed by Mayr. Three digitized examples from the Bavarian State Library are Xenium Partheniis D.D. Sodalibus Oblatum, Salzburg: Mayr, 1740; Officia sodalis Mariani in allocutionibus Partheniis declarata, Salzburg: Mayr, 1764; and the same title for 1765. Each of these editions has its own inserted 12 leaves of saints, which follow the same format with engraving and text, but but each edition has different saints and engravings (with no overlap), though the style of the engravings is uniform.
The bibliographical construction of this book (and apparently of the aforecited editions, viewed in digitized format) shares the mix-and-match characteristics of some liturgical and devotional printing: following the first three leaves a separate quire of 12 leaves is inserted, containing the saints section, printed in smaller roman types. Besides the typographical variation, it is evident that this quire is an extraneous insert from the fact that the catchword on f. )(3v is ORA-, the first word of the drop-title on f. A1r being Orationes. The final quire contains 9 leaves, and the large folding table is inserted after f. S4. The collation reads: )(4 (-)(4) 12 A-R8 S8 (S8 + 1); folding table inserted after S4. F. )(2v signed “)(3”.
The book was simply stitched and is in its original pretty and well-preserved paper cover. The bookblock edges appear to have been trimmed and sprinkled with red coloring after the wrapper was applied. “The final printed leaf shows a small amount of deckle edge, showing that the book was carefully ‘cut to show proof’, which is a nice touch on such a cheap structure” (N. Pickwoad, to whom grateful thanks, email communication).
I locate two other copies of this edition, at Amberg and the Capuchin library at Muenster. Item #4010