[PENNSYLVANIA FRAKTUR - MENNONITE COMMUNITY]. Die kleine geistliche Harfe der Kinder Zions, oder auserlesene Geistreiche Gesange. Germantaun: Michael Billmeyer, 1803.

$ 4,500.00

8vo., (6 4/8 x 4 inches). Woodcut frontispiece of David playing his harp with near contemporary hand-colour (strengthened in one or two places on verso). District of Pennsylvania copyright notice on the verso of the title-page, one general and one sectional title-page. Woodcut musical notation, head- and tail-pieces (repair to verso page 382, browned throughout). Contemporary sheep, with one of two claps, and two brass catches (extremities a little rubbed).

Provenance: WITH A VERY FINE CONTEMPORARY FRAKTUR-WORK BOOKPLATE by/for Abraham Clemmer, dated 1803 on the recto of the first blank (fore-edge strengthened on verso).


First edition printing 40 psalms from Ambrosius Lobwasser's translation of the Psalms first published in1573, followed by 475 hymns supplied by the brethren. The beautiful bookplate at the beginning of the hymnal is a simple, but very fine and attractive example of Pennsylvania fraktur-work. The asymmetrically decorated rectangular border surrounds the red and black fractured calligraphy that names the book and its owner. Perched on the top border is a brightly coloured bird, with a black head, yellow chest, red wings and green tail, facing a large fuschia-like flower. Trailing down the right-hand border is a red flowering vine with heart-shaped buds; motifs that are repeated within the bookplate border. Fraktur work was used to decorate many different kinds of manuscripts and documents made by the mainly German-speaking communities of Pennsylvania. Fraktur is also the name of the specific style of calligraphic lettering used on these documents, as here. It was a popular typeface in German-speaking parts of Europe from the mid-1500s until the 1940s. In 1683, upon William Penn's invitation, Mennonites from Krefeld, Germany, settled near Philadelphia. Others followed, coming from Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. Among the migrants were Amish, followers of Jacob Amman who had split from the main body of Mennonites over issues of religious practice in the 1690s. Catalogued by Kate Hunter