German Fortresses

Speckle, Daniel (1536-1589).

Architectura von Vestungen. Wie die zu unsern zeiten mögen erbawen werden, an Stätten Schlössern, unnd Clussen, zu Wasser, Land, Berg, unnd Thal, mit jren Bollwerken, Cavalieren, Streichen, Gräben und Leuffen.... Strasbourg, Bernhardt Jobin, 1589.

Speckle, Daniel (1536-1589) Architectura von Vestungen. Wie die zu unsern zeiten mögen erbawen werden, an Stätten Schlössern, unnd Clussen, zu Wasser, Land, Berg, unnd Thal, mit jren Bollwerken, Cavalieren, Streichen, Gräben und Leuffen.... Bernhardt Jobin, 1589.

Folio (347x235 mm). Collation: )(4, (.:.)4, A-Q4, R2, R-Z4, Aa-Ee4, [χ]1. [8], 112, [i.e. 114, 1-66, [1], 66-112], [1] leaves. The last leaf contains the errata. Gothic and roman type. Title printed in red and black within an engraved architectural border by Matthias Greuter, woodcut coat of arms of the dedicatee Julius Duke of Braunschweig. Twenty-one engravings (twenty double page, sometimes appearing as two single leaves). Numerous woodcut illustrations in the text. Contemporary limp vellum with supralibros and spine label added later. Some darkening and soiling to the covers. Binding slightly smutty. A very good copy, slightly browned, a few marginal waterstains.

Provenance: the English writer and historian Walter Hawken Tregellas (1831-1894; presentation label on the pastedown); Royal Engineers Library (gilt stamp on the binding, ink stamp on the title-page and a few other places); Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, acquired from Marlborough Rare Books, 1976 (ex-libris on the recto of the front flyeleaf; see The Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow, Christie's New York 2013, lot 317).

Rare first edition of this famous, and magnificently illustrated treatise on fortification and town-planning by one of the outstanding European specialists in architectura militaris. Speckle worked in his hometown of Strasbourg, and then in Dusseldorf, Regensburg, Vienna and probably also in Hungary. His Architectura von Vestungen (The Architecture of Fortresses) is the first important contribution to the subject in the German-speaking world since Albrecht Dürer's Etliche Underricht zur Befestigung der Stett (1527). It had immediate success, and became the standard reference work on the construction of fortresses until a decisive change occurred in the manner in which wars where fought. Its influence reaches well into the eighteenth century, and the work was published again in 1599, 1608, 1705, and 1756.

“Speckle writes his treatise from a strongly national motivation as is clear from his preface. He wishes to prove that the Germans are not completely without imagination, and that their invention of printing and of a 'grausam Geschütz' ('fearsome artillery') shows them to be the 'the greatest in the world' in these fields. He attacks, above all, the Italian theorists for their academic disputes, declaring their rules to be outmoded and openly ridiculing their approach ('when someone has no Latin, he cannot understand it, and so has no business to talk about it'). He demonstrates the urgency of fortification, as Dürer has done, by reference to the Turkish threat. Speckle claims to be familiar with fifty or sixty types of fortification, but restricts himself to a few only. He writes in German and avoids foreign words, ‘so that every German – such as I too have the honour to call myself – can understand” (H.-W. Kruft, A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present, London-New York 1994, p. 115).

The treatise is accompanied by fine engravings, one of which is signed by the renowned printmaker Matthias Greuter from Strasbourg (1564–1638).

VD16 S-8178; STC German 824; Berlin Katalog 3516; Cockle 789; Millard 123; K. Krüger, “Albrecht Dürer, Daniel Speckle und die Anfänge frühmoderner Städteplanung in Deutschland”, Mitteilungen des Vereins für deutsche Geschichte Nürnbergs, 67 (1980), pp. 79-97; U. Schütte (ed.), Architekt & Ingenieur. Baumeister in Krieg und Frieden, Wolfenbüttel 1984, no. 297; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 166.

$ 9.500
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