With the complete wedding pageant, comprising 10 double-page-sized woodcut plates

Wirrich (Wirri), Heinrich. Ordenliche Beschreibung des Christlichen, Hochlöblichen und Fürstlichen Beylags oder Hochzeit, so da gehalten ist worden durch den Durchleuchtigisten [...] Herrn Carolen, Ertzhertzog zu Osterreich [...] mit dem Hochgebornen Fräwlein Maria, geborne Hertzogin zu Bayrn, den XXVI. Augusti in der Kayserlichen Statt Wienn [...] in Teutsche Carmina gestelt [...].

Vienna, Blasius Eber, 1571.

Folio (210 x 281 mm). 126 (instead of 132) unnumbered leaves, every page framed by four-part woodcut borders. With 129 (of 133) armorial woodcuts, 9 full-page figural woodcuts in the text, and 16 woodcut plates (of which 11 are double-page-sized). Contemporary vellum with hand-lettered spine title. Edges coloured, modern silk ties.


First and only edition of the wedding book for Charles II of Inner Austria and Maria Anna of Bavaria: one of the rarest and most beautiful books printed in Vienna during the 16th century. The author, who probably shared responsibility for organising the elaborate festivities which lasted several days, describes "the wedding celebrations with the help of a clever dwarf who accompanies him [...] The 'ordentliche Beschreibung' ('proper account') is written in rhymes, while there are also prose elements contained in the description of the carrousel [and of the tournament]" (Vocelka, 67). Mayer lists only seven works known to have been produced by Blasius Eber's printshop during its mere three years of activity; the present one is his "best-known and at the same time his principal achievement [...] Wirrich appears to have sent out presentation copies of this poem to princes, noblemen, cities, and estates [...] The highlight of the work consists in the illustrations of the Viennese militia, of the masques and tournaments. These woodcuts are by several different masters. The letterpress pages are printed within wide borders showing hares, foxes, griffins, lambs, beavers, goats, deer, elephants etc. among curious-looking scrolls of tendrils" (Mayer). As the woodcut plates were sold separately, no two extant copies are entirely alike; Vocelka provides a census and a basic collation for all those known to him. The "most complete copy in Vienna is preserved in the library of the Museum of Applied Arts" (Vocelka, 67ff.). The present copy is one of only two more or less complete ones seen on the market in the last decades. The last copy sold by Reiss contained not a single one of the woodcut plates, which indeed are often reported to be lost; it also lacked the title-page and at least three leaves of text (Reiss, sale 59 [1995], lot 1258: DM 10,000).

The present copy wants the text leaf D4 (as always) and the final blank leaf, the title-page and leaves C10, T2 and T7. It does, however, include 16 of the 22 known woodcut plates: the four plates showing the standard-bearers (which almost all copies lack), the ten woodcuts showing the pageant of the Viennese militia (assembled into a series of folding processions), the large illustration of the mayor of Vienna on horseback with retainers, and finally a double leaf showing the tournament.

Somewhat browned throughout with occasional light fingerstaining; light waterstaining to the first few leaves; a few repaired old edge defects to a few text leaves (none significantly touching the text). An appealing copy.

VD 16, W 3587 (severely incomplete). Lipperheide Sc4 (a mere 15 plates). Mayer I, 112, 634. Goedeke II, 326, 4, 4. Drugulin II, 44. K. Vocelka, Habsburgische Hochzeiten 1550-1600 (Vienna 1976), pp. 47-77. Vinet 659 ("volume de plus grand rareté"). Ruggieri 937 (providing an excact collation of the plates).

Stock Code: BN#11099