A "mnemonic" guide to the emperors, with 220 illustrated medals

Wermuth, Christian. Numismata omnium Imperatorum Romanorum mnemonica, ordine descripta, et imaginibus accuratis repraesentata. Opus vere regium, omnibus omnium ordinum, utile ac jucundum.

Gotha, Christoph Reyher, 1715.

8vo. (20), 7-223, (1) pp. With 28 full-page engraved plates tipped in and engraved vignette of "Christian Wermuth, Medallator" on title-page. Bound in late 18th century half-vellum over speckled boards with remains of manuscript title on spine; all edges red. Late 19th century collector's stamp on verso of title-page of Franz C. A. Gundlach of Cassel; loose insert in a neat 19th century script detailing Wermuth's biography; further notes on rear endpaper including provenance notes: "Ex libris Franc. C. A. Gundlach Cassellani. Dono mihi dedit hunc librum Jacobus C. C. Hoffmeisterus, rei nummariae hassiacae vir ille peritissimus d. VI. August. MDCCCLXXXVII", i.e. Jacob Christoph Carl Hoffmeister (1812-93), author of "Historisch-Kritische Beschreibung aller bis jetzt bekannt gewordenen hessischen Münzen" (1866). Leaf )(8 with unobtrusive paper repair to blank lower corner; some scattered dampstaining; mainly a very good copy.


Very rare sole illustrated edition of this manual of Roman and Modern history employing medallions - not antiquarian, but designed and struck by Wermuth himself - as aides-memoire to students and other interested readers. The recto of each medal is illustrated in the engraved plates (not present in earlier editions) while the text gives a basic key to each, with features numbered A, B, C, and E.

Line A describes the image of the emperor; Line B the full text on the verso of the medallion, usually a summary of his reign; Line C the inscription around the frame of the recto; and finally line E a 'motto' associated with the emperor (not included on the medal) - perhaps the most truly 'mnemonic' feature of the text. The work also begins with demonstrative but rather imaginative medals of archetypal 'Quatuor Monarchiae': Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar, each symbolized by one of the 'Four Beasts' of Daniel 7 on the verso.

Although by this stage under the patronage of the firmly Protestant King Frederick I of Prussia, Wermuth dedicates the present work (unlike earlier editions) to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, signing his dedication "subjectissimus servus" - Charles of course being the next addition to Wermuth's lineage of rulers.

Christian Wermuth (1661-1739) was an extremely active numismatist, apparently producing as many as 1300 medals during his lifetime - many of which do not survive today due to his fondness for 'satirical' content. Friedenberg notes that he was perhaps the foremost anti-Semitic medallist of any generation. According to Forrer, "[i]n 1686 he was appointed Engraver to the Mint at Gotha and in 1688 Court Medallist to the Ducal House of Saxony (Ernestine branch); in 1699 he obtained an Imperial permission to strike medals in his own house; 1703 was appointed Court Medallist to King Frederick I of Prussia [...] His series of the Emperors is well known".

Stock Code: BN#58835 Tags: , ,