This first edition vellum copy of Theuerdank, dated March 1, 1517, was a ‘Princes’ edition’, intended for sovereigns of the German realm.
The epic poem celebrates the heroic deeds of the knight Theuerdank, symbolising Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519), who also conceived the poem. In the work, Theuerdank works to win the heart of Queen Ernreich – allegorically the emperor’s wife Mary of Burgundy (1457-82).
The volume was produced by a large team overseen by the emperor and edited by Melchior Pfintzing. This rare copy includes 118 woodcuts in vivid hand-colouring, highlighted in liquid gold and silver outline. Though it was printed, the elaborate script and colouring give the work the feel of a luxurious manuscript.
It is available from Dr Jörn Günther Antiquariats und Verwaltungs of Basel for €850,000.