How wise men from the Orient ended up in Cologne
Their story is known by more than a billion people all over the world: Three Magi travelled from the Orient to Bethlehem guided by a star. They found the Christ Child in a humble stable lying in a manger and brought him gold, incense and myrrh. Their story is told quite concisely in Matthew's Gospel 2:1-12. But there is another more detailed and far more embroidered narrative on the events before, during, and after the three magi encountered the Holy Family. It was written by a German Carmelite monk, called Johannes of Hildesheim. His tale is lesser known but very elucidating.
A tantalizing page from a 15th century Swiss-German Breviary
The birth and especially the resurrection of Christ are the most important festive days for Christianity. They form the beginning and the end of the winter cycle during the ecclesiastical year. Many medieval liturgical books revolve around the celebration of saintly feasts throughout the year. Here we encounter a beautiful Swiss-German Breviary from the 15th century with a great number of decorated initials and a glorious page that tells the story of Christ's nativity in an entertaining and endearing way.
Austrian chained binding in cuir-ciselé technique
The present beautiful and well preserved old binding from the first half of the 15th century is not only a magnificent example of the rare and sublime technique of cuir-ciselé (carved leather), but also still has its original chain with which the book was attached to its lectern in the library.
These foolish things...
Many of you might have experienced the most bizarre and foolish of times in Basel: since four o'clock a.m. last Monday, "Frau Fasnacht" (Madame Shrovetide) ruled the city. Cliques were parading up and down the city centre as well as in front of the Antiquariat Dr. Jörn Günther, playing their music; stopping only occasionally to have a drink or a hot flour soup to refresh and restore themselves.
The idea of the inverse world – where everyday laws are turned upside down and those who usually have to bow their heads and serve call the shots – reaches back to antiquity. The chasing away of winter, darkness, and evil spirits has been a tradition since ancient times.