Posts by Ina Nettekoven

  • Christmas

    everything you always wanted to know about it
    Collage with Christmas Scenes
    Collage with Christmas Scenes

    In Luke's Gospel (2:1-20), the story of Christ's birth is told. Most of us have known it since childhood:

    In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.



  • The Post-Gutenberg Era

    Early Printed Bibles in German
    Creation of Eve from Pflanzmann's German Bible of 1475-77
    Creation of Eve from Pflanzmann's German Bible of 1475-77

    The first book to be printed with movable type printing was a Bible - the Book of Books. Around 1454/55, Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz set about the daunting task of printing a Bible with 324 pages in folio format. Gutenberg's Bible was printed in Latin. Not long after his first printing adventure, other printed Bibles followed in Latin and in German.


    Obviously, public demand was great.

  • Waiting for the Lord: Dürer’s Apocalyptic Influences
  • Three Magi

    How wise men from the Orient ended up in Cologne
    Pacino da Buonaguida, Florence, c. 1330-40, private collection
    Pacino da Buonaguida, Florence, c. 1330-40, private collection

    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 painted Christmas tale

    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.

  • An almost forgotten skill

    Austrian chained binding in cuir-ciselé technique
    An almost forgotten skill

    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. 


  • Upside Down World

    These foolish things...
    Grotesque creatures from a French Book of Hours
    Grotesque creatures from a French Book of Hours

    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.




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