Thick 8vo (161 x 95 x 77 mm). , 1214,  pages. Title printed in red and black, double-page engraved frontispiece (or additional engraved title), sixty-four numbered engraved plates, of which four folding; 43 signed by Cornelius Nicolaus Schurtz, 21 unsigned (including one of the two frontispiece engravings), folding plates 36 and 41 by J. Sandrart. Final errata leaf. Two gothic typefaces, woodcut initials, typographic printed music on p. 257. Contemporary vellum over pasteboards, upper cover stamped in silver-gilt (faded) I.B.G.V.H. [Johann Bernhard Graf von Herberstein] and 1681, manuscript spine title, edges red-stained, lacking pair of fore-edge ties. fine. Provenance: Johann Bernhard Graf von Herberstein (1630-1685), binding and ms. inscription on frontispiece; Christoph Wenzel Graf von Nostitz [-Rieneck] (1648-1712), bibliophile, art collector and art patron, engraved armorial bookplate with initials C.W.G.V.N.; stencilled shelfmark 58 on backstrip; with Haus der Bücher, Basel, catalogue 706, Deutsche Literature der Barockzeit, part 1 (1963), no. 280.***
First Edition of a very rare baroque emblem book on the Last Judgment, by one of Germany’s first professional writers, a beautiful copy in immaculate condition.
Francisci, son of the Lübeck jurist Franciscus von Finx, named himself “son of Franciscus,” i.e., Francisci. More unusual than this endearing foible was his successful career as a free-lance man of letters. A prolific and popular polymath, Francisci died at the age of 68, “having left behind almost as many volumes” (Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie). Throughout his career, he worked as a sort of house author with the Nuremberg publishing house of the Endter family. “There was hardly an area of knowledge at which he did not try his hand. As one of the first full-time professional authors of Germany, Francisci understood how to switch, if the need arose, to a new area of interest that promised good sales for his publisher” (Dunnhaupt, Bibliographisches Handbuch, I, p. 628, my trans.). With gusto and success he catered to an audience hungry for tales of distant lands, for folklore and “a world saturated with wonders” (Faber du Faur, German Baroque Literature, p. 198), compiling tales of travel and distant lands, compendia of natural history and curiosities, historical works, and devotional meditations. As the thickness of this volume intimates, Francisci’s Sitzfleisch was awe-inspiring. His versatility, huge readership, and connections with many members of the “republic of letters” made him one of the most influential German writers of the Baroque. While the prose of his religious works may seem cloying to the modern reader, they sold as well as his secular compilations. Being widely read across social classes, fine copies of his books are rare.
The 64 Bedenckungen (considerations) of the present treatise are interwoven with fables, anecdotes, and digressions. Each is illustrated with an engraved emblem (Sinnbild), set within an exuberant ornamental border (the borders of most of the 21 unsigned plates, apparently by a less skilled engraver than Schurtz, are plainer). Francisci is known to have worked closely with his illustrators, and presumably collaborated on the design of these engravings, by Cornelius Nicolaus Schurtz, Joachim von Sandrart, and one other engraver (the 21 unsigned plates are in plainer borders and appear to be the work of a less skilled engraver). Characteristically varied in subject-matter, the emblems and emblematic scenes are largely secular, showing scenes of war, domestic life, natural disasters, seafaring including shipwrecks, the plant and animal world, including exotic species, children romping, fireworks, alchemical apparatus, and even an amputation and a corpse being dissected in an anatomy hall. Only a few contain biblical scenes. Most striking are the four folding plates, frightening panoramas of Judgment Day, and the two unearthly frontispiece illustrations, of which the first shows two men, a virtuous man and a sinner, in bed dreaming of their respective afterlives.
Himself a tireless hymn-writer, Francisci dedicated this work on Doomsday to one of the most important composers of Baroque hymns, Magdalena Sibylla of Hesse-Darmstadt, Duchess of Württemberg (1652-1712). The book includes twenty original hymns or Kirchenlieder, to be sung to identified choral melodies. The presumably less well-known music for one Trostlied (hymn of consolation) is provided on p. 257, with accompanying bass line.
This edition collates ):(8 ( - ):(1.8) ):( ):( 8 ( -):():(8) A-4G8: the signing of the two preliminary quires is odd, but this copy is complete. The double-leaf engraving at front may have been counted as the first leaf of the first quire, since the first letterpress leaf following the letterpress title is signed “):(iii”. Both the first quire, containing the title-leaf and dedication, and the second, containing laudatory poems signed by S. E. Gr. zu L and by Joachimus Simon, the foreword, and the table of contents, contain no 8th leaf. This matches other copies, and seems to have been due to composing miscalculations, resulting in the removal of the final blank of each quire. (Some cataloguers included the two-leaf engraved title or frontispiece in their folio count, counting  preliminary leaves, and others more correctly count  leaves.)
Not in NUC; OCLC locates a single copy in an American library, at Berkeley. VD-17 reveals that this edition is one of two variant typesettings with the same imprint (the other is VD17 1:664300Y); priority is not known and they may be different states of the same edition. A second edition (or possibly a re-issue of these sheets) appeared in 1684.
VD17 12:102498K; Goedeke, Grundriss zur Geschichte der Deutschen Dichtung III: 90, 176; Dünnhaupt, Personalbibliographien zu den Drucken des Barock (1990-93) 1538, 32.1; Dünnhaupt, Bibliographisches Handbuch der Barockliteratur (1980-81) I: 649, 32; Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery 339. Item #4103