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Historisches Museum acquires objects from the Frankfurt printing dynasty Egenolff/Luther

23.01.2017 | 10:30 Clock | Culture
Historisches Museum acquires objects from the Frankfurt printing dynasty Egenolff/Luther

(kus) On the occasion of the Reformation anniversary, the Historisches Museum Frankfurt can boast an important new acquisition. It is a bundle of prints and manuscripts, paintings and a wooden box with letter stamps from the Frankfurt printer dynasty Egenolff/Luther. Among the 38 printed manuscripts is also a Bible, which the German-American printer Christoph Sauer (1695 - 1758) produced in Germantown/Pennsylvania in 1743 in an edition of 1,200 copies for the German emigrant community. It is the first printing of the Luther Bible in a European language in America. Reprints were issued by his son Johann in 1763 and 1776.

The Bible is one of twelve copies sent by ship to Heinrich Ehrenfried Luther (1700 - 1770) in Frankfurt. Luther had supplied Sauer with the type necessary for printing. The journey was adventurous, the ship was captured and the cargo was sold before Luther could receive the bible shipment. This is evidenced by the preface in Latin printed later and signed by Luther in his own hand before the main text of the Bible. Luther ran the famous type foundry Egenolff in Frankfurt. In his handwriting, Luther inscribed in his copy of the Bible the European places to which he wished to send a Sauer's printing of the Bible.

"With the Bible, numerous pamphlets, newspapers and manuscripts, including an exchange of letters between Luther and Sauer, the HMF will for the first time have the opportunity to illustrate an important chapter in Frankfurt's history with significant objects," enthuses museum director Jan Gerchow. "Christoph Sauer was the first printer to print in German in America, and his biography illustrates key aspects of migration and globe-spanning networks-as they continue to shape Frankfurt and its publishing industry today."

The printing of the first Bible based on Martin Luther's German translation had far-reaching consequences in America. It was the basis for the German congregations in Pennsylvania to interpret their faith, but because of the addition of three apocryphal writings, it was not without controversy. With its circulation and distribution to important European libraries, the Sauer Bible had a worldwide impact.

At the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, the newly acquired Bible will therefore also be given a place in the permanent exhibition "Frankfurt Once?" in the new exhibition building.

Historically no less important are the stamps of the Egenolff'schen Schriftgießerei, which were made in the 17th century by Jacob Sabon. The Cöllnisch Current Fraktur stamps are in a 16th century box with inscriptions by Christian Egenolff, the most important Frankfurt printer of Frankfurt Humanism along with Sigmund Feyerabend. Comparable printing stamps are extremely rare and are only kept in special collections such as the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz or the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp.

The purchase of this in its entirety book, religious as well as urban history equally outstanding volume from family property was only possible because the Hessische Kulturstiftung (Wiesbaden), the Kulturstiftung der Länder (Berlin), the Max Ernst von Grunelius Foundation, the Cronstett- and Hynspergische evangelische Stiftung (both Frankfurt) and the Club33 of the Historical Museum participated with considerable amounts.

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