The Offer


This Biblical Archives offer is of ONE original hand coloured illustrated leaf from the Eleventh High German Bible published by Johann Schönsperger in May 1487. This offer comes with a Certificate of Historicity. Measurements: approx. 11 3/4"x 8 1/4". Location: 3.8a

Biblical Art


Biblical Art


The artistic adornment of the Bible is an important aspect of the Biblical tradition. We often speak of the Living Word, the written Word and the spoken Word but have you ever considered the value of the visual Word of God? By this it is meant images conveying the essential message of the Bible for those who could not read. The walls and ceilings of ancient churches were beautified with scenes of Biblical stories informing those for whom the Word of God was a mystery of the essence of eternal truths. The advent of the printing press in 1455 introduced the written word to millions who had never before had the opportunity to learn to read for themselves. Books became affordable and the quest for knowledge the highest pursuit. But for those who could not read the picture/illustration still remained the main avenue to unlocking the mysteries of God's word.


The German Bible


Prior to Martin Luther's new translation of the Bible published in 1534 there were eighteen German Bibles that appeared in Germany between 1466 and 1522. The pioneer printer, Johannes Gutenberg used the Latin translation (Vulgate), which was the accepted Bible of the Church, for his Gutenberg Bible. In just a short time, a decade only, there was a demand from both the clergy and the middle-classes for a vernacular Bible in German.


Hans Bämler


The tradition of illustrating Bibles dates back a thousand years before Johann Schönsperger commissioned the popular artisan Hans Bämler, who incidentally was his father-in-law, to a make a new set of illustrations for what we now know was the eleventh High German Bible to be printed prior to Luther's new translation. It appears Bämler took inspiration for some of his illustrations from an earlier Koberger Bible, perhaps a 1483 edition. 

Hans Bämler was a multi-talented craftsman who became an important figure in the life of Augsburg, Germany in the 15th century. He is, "mentioned in Augsburgian city records from 1453 as a scribe and from 1477 as a printer. He appears to have begun his career as an illuminator and calligrapher [...]. He probably learned the art of print-making in the shop of Gunther Zainer [the first printer in Augsburg]. The first printed book by Bämler appeared in April 1472, and the first illustrated printed book from his workshop in September 1473. [...] Approximately half of the books printed in his printing office were illustrated with woodcuts or other decorative elements. He belonged to the guild of painters, glassmakers, woodcut-makers and goldbeaters, and eventually reached a high position within the guild. His printing activity ceased in 1495". Wikipedia


Johann Schönsperger


Johann Schönsperger set up a print shop in 1481 with the goldsmith Thomas Rüger and worked closely with his stepfather Johann Bämler. The company, along with other printers from Augsburg, was able to dominate the book market for German literature in Augsburg between 1480 and 1500. In 1507 Schönsperger went bankrupt and did not recover financially. In 1508 he probably became the secret printer of Emperor Maximilian I through Konrad Peutinger. 






[21] And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. [22] And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. [23] And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. [24] But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. [25] And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. [26] And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. [27] And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. [28] And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? [29] And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. [30] And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. [31] Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. [32] And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: [33] And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. [34] And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.


The Offer


This Biblical Archives offer is of ONE original hand coloured illustrated leaf from the Eleventh High German Bible published by Johann Schönsperger in May 1487. This offer comes with a Certificate of Historicity. Measurements: approx. 11 3/4"x 8 1/4". Location: 3.8a

1487 Eleventh High German Bible Numbers 16-17 & 22

  • Some Bible leaves are hard to look at and others look as new as the day they left the press. The condition of a particular Bible  leaf reflects its history and is not an indication of its true value. Perfect leaves are ones that have seen little or no use over the centuries in contrast to those that are scarred by the ravages of time. Unblemished leaves are unloved leaves because they have had little contact with sinners. Imperfect leaves tell a story, some are torn and ripped and warn away by excessive use while other's have burns or worm holes and still others are water stained by flood and sometimes even tears. Each ugly mark or stain is in fact a beautiful witness to the Word of God, which “… liveth and abideth forever.” The basis for pricing our Biblical leaves and other artefacts is based on: 1) the age 2) the rarity of the object 3) the popularity of the text and finally 4) the condition. All printed and manuscript leaves are sold as is. We offer a 30 day refund upon receipt of the leaf/object in the same pre-sale condition. Buyer pays for retrun shipping. All objects and leaves are photographed prior to being shipped.