"Where there are many women there are many witches"

Institoris, Heinrich (Heinrich Kramer). Malleus maleficarum.

[Speyer, Peter Drach, before April 1487].

Folio. 129 ff. Rubricated with lombardic initials in red and blue. 19th century white paper boards with printed paper spine label. Stored in custom-made full green morocco gilt clamshell box.


Considered unobtainable: the first edition of the notorious "Hammer of Witches", which laid down procedures for finding out and convicting witches. Called one of "the most vicious [...] book[s] in all of world literature" (Jerouschek, 500 Years of the Malleus Maleficarum, xxxi), it is certainly among the most misogynistic texts ever written and provided justification for the murder of tens of thousands of women in medieval Europe. Arguably, no book has been more damaging to the history of women than the Malleus. It "owes much of its notoriety to its infamous diatribe on the female sex. Kramer attempts to establish a direct connection between diabolic witchcraft and women throughout his treatise, and dedicates an entire chapter (Liber 1, Quaestio 6) exclusively to explaining why women are more prone to become witches than are men. In this chapter, he contends that women's nature is weaker than men's not only physically, but also psychologically, intellectually, and morally. Kramer argues that women's lascivious nature and moral and intellectual inferiority are the reasons for their greater proclivity to witchcraft. He [...] claims that the devil takes advantage of women's insatiable lust and inherent propensity to receive the influence of a disembodied spirit in order to harm Christian society" (Herzig, 27f.) While the Malleus was one of the most widespread texts of its time and went through no fewer than thirteen subsequent editions within three decades, complete copies of the first edition are of the utmost rarity, and only a few copies are found in American institutions. According to Rarebookhub, it has appeared at auction only once since 1925 (Sotheby's, Witchcraft and the Occult: Selected Books from the Collection of the late Robert Lenkiewicz, 2003, lot 295).


From the famous Donaueschingen library of the princes of Fürstenberg with their printed spine title and shelfmark "298" on the spine label (repeated in pencil on recto of f. 1).


Folio (215 x 294 mm). 129 ff. (wants final blank). 48 lines, double-columned, gothic type. Rubricated, with lombardic initials in red and blue, occasional pen flourishes, paragraph marks at beginning of chapter headings, some capital strokes. 19th century white paper boards with printed paper spine label. Stored in custom-made full green morocco gilt clamshell box.


Upper cover stained and soiled, first three pages of text with some soiling and staining, neat repair to final printed leaf. All in all, a remarkably fine, clean copy.


HC* 9238. Goff I-163. British Library IB.8581 (acquired in 1867 but not recorded in BMC). ISTC ii00163000. Coumont I4.2. Danet 16. Graesse III, 425. T. Herzig, "Witches, Saints, and Heretics: Heinrich Kramer's Ties with Italian Women Mystics", Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 1 (2006), pp. 24-55.