Above is the first leaf from the first edition of 1502,  which begins

Hexastichon Sebastiani Brandtin memorabi \

les euangelistarx figuras

In 1502 there are two ‘first’ editions of the printed Ars memorandi, first edition, has first line ending “Brantn [sic] memorabi-” with woodcuts, focusing upon the four Evangelists. http://books.google.com/books?vid=BL:A0021409757. VD 16•P1904

UniversalShort Title Catalogue


Second edition of 1502, with first line of leaf a1 ending “Sebastiani”

Hexastichon Sebastiani \

Brant in memorabile evangelistarus figuras

Comparing the two; first leaves it is clearly a re-set edition, and comparing the woodcuts on the second leaf of each edition it is fairly easy to see that in the second end the wood blocks are the same but worn and a little bumped up. In the interim from the Second Edition of 1502 which I sold in 1998 and now, I have sold editions from 1503, 1505, 1507, 1508 and another 1502 second. But this is the First 1502 First edition I have had. It is a wonderful clean and crisp as well as large copy. Searching the OCLC has not been very informative, The first 1502 is VD16•1904, and OCLC only lists two in the Anglosphere BPL and Oxford and to that I can add Princeton and maybe Boston Public.

For the ‘second’ 1502 I find only Harvard and Princeton. Searching some of the libraries I visit I have found this:

•No copies of VD•16-1409 at: Wellesley • Harvard, (2nd ed 1502).• JCB• Yale (1505)• Columbia(1507) • Morgan (1503 & 1507) • Penn• JHU º, Emory  • U of Chicago.• Huntington (1505) • Ohio State •University of Ill. • Indiana University • Notre Dame •Newberry (1505 &1510)• U of Mich • U of Wisconsin.  Penn state (1505?)• Stanford • BYU• U of Texas Austin• UC library system• U of Toronto (1507) Library of Congress (1505 & 1507)


  • 500J Petrus de ROSENHEIM(1380-1433)..  (& Sebastian Brant (1458-1521);  Georg Simler aka Relmisius)

Hexastichon Sebastiani Brant in memorabiles euangelistar[um] figuras. Quisquis percuoies facile euangelica dicta Seruare: & memori mente tenere cito …

Thomas Anshelm, Pforzheim, 1502.      $17,500

Quarto 21 x 514 cm.  a-c6 with 15 full-page mnemonic woodcuts. Now attributed to the “Meister der Pforzheimer Druckerei”  It is bound in modern vellum.

A wonderfully illustrated and curious book, based on the 15th century block-book “Ars Memorandi”, with the 15 woodcuts, (3 for the Gospel of John, 5 for that of Matthew, 3 for that of Mark and 4 for that of Luke) A series of Latin verses from Petrus von Rosenheim’s (who was, prior of the Benedictine monastery of Melk) “Roseum memoriale” accompanies each of the full-page woodcuts.


The Ars memorandi, which is one of the oldest and most curious mnemonic treatises. The cuts are reduced adaptions from the early block-book Ars Memorandi editions. The prose text is practically the same, as Roesnheim’s Memoriale Divinorum eloquiorum printed around 1480, which contains verse for the whole bible. But this  small quarto editions have the addition of Latin verse in couplets. It was intended for clerics and was to facilitate their learning of the main Greek biblical passages in its mnemotechnical processes.  The iconography offers strange allegorical representations of the Evangelists, each of them constituting innumerable instruments, objects and symbols.Each couplet commences with a different letter in the order of the alphabet (omitting K, X, Y, Z, but including vowel I). These letters correspond to the numbers that appear on the cuts, and together form a method of memorizing the events of the Scripture as told by each of the Evangelists.IMG_1656

“The woodcuts of the Ars Memorandi contain some of the most curious images ever printed. An eagle displays a pair of embracing lovers on its breast; an angel, a sack of grain perched on his head, carries a blazing sun in one hand and a figure of the Christ Child in the other. The oddity of these pictures, however, had its purpose. The eagle and the angel, as well as the lion and the ox, are symbols of the four Evangelists, and the additional objects or figures refer to specific events in the Gospels. These woodcuts, together with the accompanying text, were an aid for the reader in memorizing the events of the life of Christ”

IMG_1657As stated above there are fifteen full-paged woodcuts. Each is dominated by one of the Evangelists’ symbols with details that allude to events in Christ’s life. Each facing page contains the explanatory prose with numbers corresponding to the details on the cuts.  Below the prose are the Latin distichs by Peter von Rosenheim. ….The Ars Memorandi, one of the most remarkable early mnemonic works,and  is extremely rare.” (This quote is from the introduction of the first complete reproduction of the Ars Memorandi (1981) by Roger S. Wieck, Assistant Curator of Printing and Graphic Arts of the Houghton Library at Harvard University)IMG_1659


The purpose was twofold: first, a method of memorizing the contents of each Gospel by means of woodcut figures worked into compact symbolical form; second, a method by IMG_1660which the priest might instruct those who could not read, using the accompanying key in explainingthe pictures to the illiterate. Each is constructed with one great figure in the back-ground, on whose arms, legs, head, body, etc. are crowded the other symbols. Thus the background for the St. John is a Phoenix. Such curious objects appear as a leper’s clappers. money changers’ dishes, and early musical instruments.

VD; 16 P 1905


Thomas Anshelm was active as a printer circa 1488-1516, and worked at Strassburg (1488), Tubingen (1511), Hagenau (1516) and introduced printing at Pforzheim in 1500.

Adams P-926; Brunet I: 499-500; VD 16 P 1909; STC 687;Panzer VIII, 230, 20; Proctor 11761. –see Fairfax Murray German 43 (1503 edition).