Carthusians of Basel, c. 1487

THOMAS À KEMPIS (1380–1471).
Imitatio Christi.
[With:] JEAN GERSON (1363–1429).
De Meditatione cordis.
[Ulm: Johann Zainer], 1487. (06371)

The Imitatio Christi (“Imitation of Christ”) is one of the most influential devotional manuals in the history of the Christian faith. First printed in 1473, it appeared in at least 80 editions during the fifteenth century. Over the subsequent centuries it has been translated into nearly every language, and it is still widely read today.

This copy of the Imitatio Christi once belonged to Adolf Rusch (fl. 1470–1489), a highly successful printer in Strasbourg and a bookseller of international importance. The first blank leaf bears an inscription that lists the contents and states that the book was donated to the Carthusian monastery of St. Margaretental in Basel by “the venerable master Adolf Rusch, citizen of Strasbourg.” The inscription was entered by the monastery’s librarian, Jakob Louber, along with the book’s original shelf mark, “I/iii.” The fifteenth-century catalogue of St. Margaretental’s library and its register of donors (both still preserved at Basel University) likewise record Rusch’s donation, and that the book was shelved third in cabinet I, reserved for the monastery’s small-format books.

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Fifteenth-Century Librarians at Work
Carthusians of Basel, c. 1487