Liber Bilibaldi Pirckheimer

Early in the 16th century, the Renaissance humanist Willibald Pirckheimer (1470-1530) convinced his good friend Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) to design a bookplate for his extensive library. Although it is not signed, the woodcut holds the words “Sibi et amicis P[ositus]. Liber Bilibaldi Pirckheimer” (Bilibald Pirckheimer’s book. [Placed on?] oneself and one’s friends). The Graphic Arts Collection holds a metal relief plate reproducing Dürer’s woodcut (similar to other metal plates produced by Elmer Adler).

The design includes Pirckheimer’s coat of arms on the right (a birch tree) and the arms of his wife Margretha Rieterin on the left (the double-tailed mermaid). Above them are two angels holding a helmet and scepter, along with garlands and other decoration. At the top is inscribed in Latin, Greek and Hebrew: “Inicium Sapientice Timor Domini” (The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, Psalm 111.10).

Digitally inverted and laterally reversed.

Princeton has a copy of Dürer woodcut in this book originally in Adler’s library:

Junianus Maius, De priscorum proprietate verborum (Venice: Joannes Rubeus Vercellensis, 1490). Bookplate of Willibald Pirckheimer, designed by Dürer. In 1636 Thomas Howard, 2d Earl of Arundel, bought Pirckheimer’s library in Nuremberg. In 1667, through John Evelyn’s efforts the library was presented to the Royal Society by the Earl’s grandson, Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk. In 1925 the Royal Society sold its duplicates at auction. Also has the bookplate of the Royal Society below Pirckheimer’s. ExI copy is from the printing collection of Elmer Adler. Evidently purchased by Adler in 1925 (lot 122, Sotheby’s [London], May 4, 1925 sale). (RB) EXI Oversize 2529.611q