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Braunschweigischer Kupffer-Kalender Auf das Jahr Christi MDCCXVII.

  • Author: BECK, Johann Georg
  • Date: 1717
  • Dimensions: 12mo


An exceptionally rare early 18th Century almanac, containing a charming unrecorded miniature folding map of “Schlarraffenland”

About this piece:

Braunschweigischer Kupffer-Kalender Auf das Jahr Christi MDCCXVII Worinn befindlich das Herzogliche Residenz-Schloss zu Wolffenbüttel. Das Fürstliche Schloss und Stadt Blanckenburg / und anderer Fürstliche Lust-Häuser / Wie auch einige erbauliche Kalender-Reguln / Und merkwürdige Teutsche / Englische / Französische und Italianische Sprüchwörter. Auch eine curieuse universal Land-Charte gezeichnet / In Kupffer gestochen und heraus gegeben von Johann Georg Bäck / Herzogl. Br. Lüneb. Kupfferstecher / wohnhafft auf der Hohe.

12mo. Original decorative gilt-tooled green-papered card wrappers with additional tongue (on back) and groove (on front) to facilitate complete closing of book. Wrappers somewhat worn and rubbed. Decorative double page frontispiece portrait of Augustus Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick. Titlepage. 3pp introduction, 54pp providing a monthly calendar, each month interspersed with 12 full page engravings, in dark red hue, depicting Brunswick castles, buildings and scenes. One folding map (sheet : 17 x 12.5 cms) entitled “Richtige Landkarte der Unrichtigen im Saus= und Brausland” in fine original outline colours, slightly cropped to upper border. Some browning and foxing to internal pages of text, bindings a little weak internally at hinges on front endpapers, but generally a very attractive and well-preserved example.

A scarce and extremely uncommon pocket calendar & almanac, typical of a series of such miniature books published by Brunswick engraver and publisher, Johann Georg Bäck or Beck [1676-1722]. Beck had originally been born in Augsburg and in his youth worked there and in Ulm, Leipzig and Wolfenbüttel before settling in Brunswick in 1706, where he established himself as Hofkupferstecher. He is known for several impressive engraved portraits of Brunswick worthies, notables of court, and aristocrats, including even one of King George I of England (& Hanover), and numerous separately published views of cities within the Dukedom of Brunswick. However he is probably best known for the series of miniature engravings and annual pocket almanacs that he produced from about 1709 onwards until the time of his death in 1722. These included the Braunschweigischer Schreib-Calender and similar Braunschweigischer Kupffer-Kalender, of which this is the edition of 1717.

Both works included small engravings, in this edition the principal settlements & aristocratic summer estates (Lust-Häuser) of the Brunswick Dukedom, including, for example, a small bird’s eye view of castle & city of Blankenburg. However this edition’s engravings mainly depict the private residences, trading emporiums, municipal buildings and public monuments of the City of Brunswick itself, these mostly engraved on a single page alongside small general views of the city taken from different viewpoints. Laid out as a calendar, the days of each month are set out in tabular form on one page, with principal saints days, astronomical observations, times of sunrises & sunsets and the phases of the moon etc, highlighted in red & black for the interested reader. The volume concludes with a short multi-lingual phrasebook, offering multiple translations of well-known German, French, Italian and English aphorisms, including such early 18th Century English gems as : “A little body does oftentimes harbour a great heart”, “a friend in the way is better than a penny in the purse” and “a pount of care will not pay an ounce of debt”. The final pages of the volume offer a detailed and comprehensive resumé of Brunswick’s local and European-wide postal services and post-chaise connections.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the volume however is the small folding map that appears at the end of the calendar, adjacent to the month of December. The map is clearly a reduction of the well-known Schenk-Homann Schlarraffenland map, though essentially in mirror image and with many topographical details revised and amended from the original Schenk-Homann template. The majority of place names are also now fully translated into German. The title in the lower left reads : Richtige LandKarte der Unrichtigen im Saus- und Braus Land” which roughly translates as “A Correct Map of Falsehoods in the Land of Luxury”. The phrase “Im Saus und Braus leben” is used of someone who is living it up, living like a lord, in the lap of luxury. The title and adjacent scale are supported by the figure of a seated ape, holding a pair of dividers, indicative perhaps of the venal, animal-like characteristics of the native population of this region. The scale itself is measured in Saus Landische grosse Mauler and Venerische kleine Mauler. The map is in slightly cropped at the top and bottom sheet edges, but is attractively hand coloured in outline, the green and yellow colours still remarkably fresh and bright. It seems possible that the publication of the second state of the Schenk-Homann map in Nuremberg in about 1716, led to the wider dissemination and popularisation of the Schlarraffenland map model and to the engraving and publication by Beck of this reduced size derivative very shortly afterwards.

Johann Georg Beck was married twice, his first wife dying in 1712, the same year in which he remarried, Anna Elizabeth Füllekrug. A son Anton was born in 1713. Johann Georg died in 1722 but in 1726 his widow Anna Elizabeth remarried her late husband’s former assistant, another native of Augsburg and fellow copperplate engraver, Johann Georg Schmidt [1694-1767], who took over the Beck engraving and publishing business in Brunswick. Upon his death in 1767, he was succeeded by his stepson, Anton August Beck, Johann Georg’s son, who became official engraver to Duke Karl I of Brunswick and died in 1787. These three figures have together left an important visual record of the city and dukedom of Brunswick and borne witness to the region’s vibrant print and publishing trade during much of the 18th Century.

Examples of these early 18th Century Beck Braunschweigischer Kupffer-Kalender appear exceedingly scarce and few copies noted outside German institutional collections and libraries. Moreover we have been unable to locate any bibliographic references to the charming little imaginary map of Saus und Braus Land included here, in this 1717 edition of the work. It receives absolutely no mention in Franz Reitinger’s detailed study of Johann Von Schnebelin’s 1694 work and its literary & cartographic derivatives. It is entirely omitted from his list of the Schlarraffenland map series of Schenk, Homann, Seutter & Lotter.

Refs: Gerd Spies: Braunschweig, das Bild einer Stadt im 18 Jahrhundert. Arbeiten der Braunschweiger Kupferstecher Familie Beck [Braunschweig, 1976]; Gerd Spies : Braunsweig, das Bild der Stadt in 900 Jahren : Braunschweigs Stadtgeschichte [Städtisches Museum, Braunschweig, 1985] pp.65,131 & 189.