By Johannes Richenbach

JOHANN HEROLT (d. 1468).
Sermones Discipuli de tempore et de sanctis cum promptuario exemplorum.
[Reutlingen: Michael Greyff, c. 1479–1482]. (06951)

Johannes Richenbach (d. 1486), who conspicuously signed and dated many of his bindings from 1467 to 1486, is one of the few fifteenth-century bookbinders identified by name. A parish chaplain at Geislingen near Ulm, Richenbach was the first binder known to decorate his bindings using metal rolls bearing incised patterns that created repeating friezes. On Bridwell Library’s unsigned pigskin binding, Richenbach’s rolls consist of floral motifs, hunters and birds, and running dragons, and his stamping tools include a circular eagle and large rosette, a lozenge-shaped Head of Christ, and a fleur-de-lis. Other characteristic features of Richenbach’s style are the title “Discipulus” that he stamped and painted in large letters across the top of the front cover, and his unusual habit of adding red and brown pigment to certain blind-tooled emblems. One of at least sixty Richenbach bindings that survive, Bridwell Library’s was the last example recorded in private hands before it was purchased in 2002.

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Fifteenth-Century Bookbinding
By Johannes Richenbach