Provenance Mysteries: Nova medicinæ methodus …

The September 2020 provenance mystery features Nova medicinæ methodus, nunc primu[m] & condita & ædita, ex mathematica ratione morbos curandi, by Johann Virdung von Hassfurt, printed in Etteling in 1532.

The book concerns the practice of medicine. Virdung was a German astrologer who visited England in 1503 ‘to learn magic’ according to an article by Lynn Thorndike written in 1937. Virdung ostensibly wrote to Johannes Trithemius regarding George Sabellicus. In 1507 Reynaldus de Novimagio (a 15th century printer) published Trithemius’s response to this letter, in which Sabellicus is described as ‘faustus junior’ and accused of being a ‘charltan and imposter’, and thus setting him up as the inspiration for the character of Faust.

Title page showing the ‘Lupus’ comment

As can be seen in the images here, the title page shows a variety of marginalia:

  • Someone has used ink to elaborately block out ‘Hasfurto Virdungo’ in the author’s name, but added in ‘Haffurto’
  • An original inscription has been scored out, but the same motto and cipher appears at the top of the title page: ‘fer et vince’
  • An inscription reading, in part: ‘carnifex qu[a]e nomi[n]e [huis?] p[er] [statiss?] viri de[?]e[?]it &c. Lupus nomine lupus [?] lupus natura et habitua
Title page close-up of the ‘fer et vince’ motto

The motto ‘fer et vince’ is repeated on folio A1r of the book (not shown here). The book is bound with a second work, Ad astrorum iudicia facilis introductio, by Claude Dariot, 1557. Within this work, on the verso of the first leaf there is an inscription: ‘Samuel Vuolphius fer et vince’. This is possibly Samuel Wolf (1549-1591), putting the final inscription above into context (lupus is the Latin word for wolf). Wolf was a Polish poet, but we cannot say definitively if this is hand. You can read an example of his work here. It was common practice in the early modern period to bind works together- it saved on the cost of binding to bind more than one title into a ‘sammelband volume’.

As ever, if you have any comments on this provenance mystery, contact the library at:

Renae Satterley

September 2020

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