, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quadragesimale Nouum…de filio prodigo…
Johannes Meder
Basel: Michael Furter, 1494
Editio princips
BX1756 M43 Q4 1494

Johannes Meder’s collection of fifty sermons on the New Testament story of the Prodigal Son is introduced by his close friend Sebastian Brandt. In Brandt’s verse, the Prodigal Son and his guardian angel discuss whoring, gaming, cruelty to the poor and other disturbing issues of the time. Meder wrote, “One must know first the illness, which one intends to heal.” The subject must have been quite compelling – a second edition was printed by Michael Wenssler, also of Basel, in 1497.

Born in Augsburg, Michael Furter (d. 1516/17) was in Basel by 1483, when he bought a house there. He began printing at least at early as 1489. He added bookbinding and then accounting to his trades after his printshop ran into financial difficulties. Furter printed mostly grammars and theology. Although he was financially unsuccessful as a printer, his fairly large number of books were known for their beautiful woodcut ornamentation and illustrations. This work contains eighteen full-page woodcuts. Gothic type, printer’s device.

The University of Utah copy was once owned by Robert Chambers (1802-1871). Chambers anonymously published Vestiges, a Victorian-era best-seller that posited a theory of evolution before Charles Darwin published his ground-breaking thesis. Chambers and Darwin were correspondents.

Chambers and his brother began their careers as publishers and authors when they set up an antiquarian bookshop using their father’s own collection of books. This copy was also part of the library of John William Willis-Bund (1843-1928), a writer on the history of the church in Wales. Evidence of this provenance is the bookplates of both of these men attached within the book.