Signed by Moses Mendelssohn

[Album amicorum]. Album amicorum of Johann Christoph von Selpert.

Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Hamburg, Göttingen, Lausanne, Leipzig, Meißen, Regensburg, Zurich, 1768-1774.

Oblong 8vo (200 x 118 mm). 86 ff. with 93 entries, 5 full-page illustrations (1 washed pencil drawing, 4 gouaches), and a watercolour flower in the text. Contemporary vellum with coloured lacquer decorations to covers and spine. Bronze-varnish paper; edges goffered and gilt.


Uncommonly beautiful friendship album belonging to the law student Johann Christoph von Selpert (d. 1817), later councillor and delegate of various cities at the Regensburg Imperial Diet. Among the various contributors are many important scholars of the late 18th century, including Moses Mendelssohn, Johann Bernhard Basedow, Salomon Gessner, A. F. Büsching, and Christian August Clodius.

The earliest contributors are mostly Regensburg relatives of Selpert's, including Johanna Elisabetha née Harrer, wife of the local merchant and freemason Ludwig Leonhard Schkler (1738-1807), but also the 13-year-old Benedikt Friedrich Springer (1756-1803), later a preacher of note. Soon, more important personages are added whom Selpert met during his University years at Leipzig: the Rosicrucian Adam Michael Birkholz (1746-1818), who published under the pen name "AdaMah Booz", the preacher and hymn poet Johann Gottfried Schöner (1749-1818), the later law professor Christian Rau (1744-1818), as well as the historian Johann Gottlob Böhme (1717-80), the law scholar J. H. Wilmerding (1749-1828), later the mayor of Braunschweig, the educator Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724-90), the poet and philosopher Christian August Clodius (1737-84), the theologian and classical scholar Johann August Ernesti (1707-81), director of Leipzig's Thomasschule, and the city captain Johann Christian Krappe (1709-91). In Berlin, Moses Mendelssohn signs himself (in Hebrew) on 25 Iyyar 5532 (i.e., 28 May 1772), as does the geographer Anton Friedrich Büsching (1724-93); a Hamburg contribution is from the Linné student Johann Christoph von Heidenstam (1739-74); others, from Göttingen, are by Johann Heinrich Prieser (1749-1801) and Johann Jakob Besserer (1753-1834), both of whom soon would make their careers in Augsburg as concillors and even as mayor. Further journeys lead Selpert to Dresden, Meissen, and Bremen. Contributions from Lausanne (1773) include the physician and chemist Heinrich Struve (1751-1826), the naturalist Jakob Samuel Wyttenbach (1748-1839), and the jurist Samuel Porta (1716-1790); in Zurich the poet Salomon Gessner (1730-88) signs, as does the physician and writer Johann Kaspar Hirzel (1725-1803).

Selpert's coat of arms (an ink drawing on strong wove paper) is inserted loosely. A title page and some four leaves were removed from the album, apparently at a very early date. Spine somewhat sunned. A complete list of all contributors is available.