18mo (109 x 64 mm). Collation: A-U V-Z Aa-Bb8.10 (but see notes). 456,  pages. Half-title with woodcut frontispiece on verso. Gothic types. A couple of headlines shaved toward end, a few corners bent. Contemporary case binding of painted and gold-tooled parchment over pasteboards, with onlays cut out from engravings, that on upper cover showing the Crucifixion flanked by seraphim, the Resurrection on lower cover, both onlaid scenes set within blue-painted gilt arches framed in pink, smooth spine gilt in compartments and painted blue, edges gilt and wtith gauffering at extremities (somewhat rubbed, spine faded). ***
Unrecorded edition of a German Catholic prayerbook, printed at the Jesuit College of Braunsberg (now Braniewo, Poland), possibly weeks before the suppression of their order and the closing of the school. This edition bears peculiar quire signatures and is in a curious collage painted binding, of the type sometimes known as a Bauerneinband.
The Baum-Gärtlein, a devotional handbook by the prolific Capuchin priest Martin von Cochem, first appeared in 1682 (Das Kleine Baum-Gärtlein in kleinem Truck); a few 18th-century editions are recorded, but this one does not appear in any of the online databases. Its imprimatur, approved by an official from the diocese of Warmia, is dated 1741, implying earlier editions from that area; KVK and OCLC list none, however.
Braunsberg, a prosperous town of the Hanseatic League, had boasted since the mid-16th century one of the more prestigious Jesuit colleges, the Collegium Hosianum, where students studied Greek, Hebrew, mathematics, humanities and theology. They may even have engaged in printing; a number of editions from the college’s press are known. But in 1772 Braunsberg was annexed by the Protestant Kingdom of Prussia, and in 1773 the Jesuits were suppressed by papal decree and the College was closed. This must have been one of the last editions to issue from its press.
The edition is illustrated with a primitive (and worn) woodcut of a woman in a wood praying to Jesus on the cross. The book’s format, or rather its signing, is peculiar: ostensibly in 26 alternating gatherings of 8 and 10 leaves, the signatures do not match the construction, which in fact alternates quires of 12 and 6 leaves. The true collation, that is, should read [1-26] 12.6. The purpose, if any, of these fictive quire signatures, is obscure.
The binding, with its onlays of cut-outs from contemporary engravings, is almost equally anomalous, though the technique may have been in vogue at this time (I have heard of another example, but have not seen one). The engravings were hand-colored before being glued to the binding, and they were protected with some kind of lacquer, after the covers were painted or stained in wash. This is a case binding, attached to the text block only by the (securely) glued-down pastedowns. Item #4128