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les Enluminures

ALBUM AMICORUM of Christian Gottlieb Simon, with added leaves from the Album Amicorum of Johann Siegmund Bachstein

In German, Latin, French, Italian and Greek, illustrated manuscript on paper
Germany, Freiberg, Dresden, Grumbach and Leipzig, mainly 1730-1737 (added leaves: Seidenberg, Wittenberg and Hirschberg, 1747-1754)

TM 341-1

170 leaves (including the tipped-in ones), pagination in pencil by a later hand on the rectos: [i-iv], 1, [2], 3, [4], etc., up to 163, [164], 165, [166]. Seventeen leaves cancelled: two between pp. ii-ii, one between pp. 2-3, one between pp. 38-39, one between pp. 54-55, two between pp. 78-79, one between pp. 94-95, one between pp. 104-105, one between pp. 108-109, one between pp. 110-111, one between pp. 122-123, two between pp. 136-137, two between pp. 16-161, and one between pp. 162-163. Thirteen leaves from another Album Amicorum have been added: one has been pasted onto p. 1, the other twelve–the leaves with page numbers 9, 13, 19, 27, 41, 45, 51, 57, 61, 77, 145 and 147–have been tipped in. Also tipped in, but belonging to the original album of Christian Simon, is the leaf with page number 155. With twenty full-page and smaller illustrations [see below], a cartouche (p. 1), calligraphy (pp. 69, 124-125, 154), and music scores (pp. 10, 19). Contemporary binding of brown morocco over pasteboard, goldstamped with fillets and small ornaments on both covers and on the spine, pastedowns of marbled paper, edges gilt, original title-page lacking; left edge of the leaf pasted onto p. 1 rifled; rectangular piece of the leaf with page number 39 cut out; leaf with page number 155 repaired with paper tape, paper browned, binding worn. Dimensions 107 x 163 mm. (oblong).

Richly illustrated Album Amicorum that combines the album of a Dresden and Leipzig student with album leaves dedicated to a student in Hirschberg, Silesia. Text and image reveal a familiarity with the classics, with quotations from Virgil, Ovid, and Martial, as well as contemporary authors, and texts in Greek, Latin, and German. Pictorial contributions display considerable humor and a certain amount of talent. This is an album typical of eighteenth-century Germanic university culture composed by and for two known individuals (sold with TM 341b, c, and d).


1. Although the original title page itself has been excised, its text is still vaguely visible, in reverse, on p. 2: “ALBUM / HOC / PATRONIS FAUTORIBUS / Amicis / submisse offert / Christian Gottlieb Simon / [...] Freybergensis.” From the content of his album it can be deduced that its first owner was born c. 1712 in Freiberg, Saxony, as the son of Johann Christian Simon, and that he studied in Dresden and Leipzig between 1730 and 1737, probably in mathematics. His father Johann Christian (1687-1760) is known as an architect; see Ulrich Thieme & Felix Becker (eds.), Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, XXXI, Leipzig 1937, p. 346; and Alfred Gottfried, Johann Christian Simon und Johann Gottlieb Ohndorff. Zwei Freiberger Barockbaumeister, Bonn 1989.

2. At an unknown but early date thirteen leaves–somewhat smaller: 99 x 160 mm. – from another Album Amicorum have been added. Its title page, pasted onto p. 1, is dated 1753 and reveals that this album belonged to a J.S. Bachstein: “Hanc / ARAM, / Non memoriae solum / sed amicitiae quoq[ue] / causa / Honoratissimis, suamissi / misque / COMILITONIBVS atque / AMICIS, consecrari / curauit / J.S. Bachstein / Natus Kunzend.” He can be identified as Johann Siegmund Bachstein, born 12 February 1733 in Kunzendorf, Silesia. He went to school in Niederwiesa and Hirschberg and studied in Halle. From 1761 he was the principal of the Latin school in Niederwiesa. In 1769 he published Historische Nachricht, von den Kirch- und Schulanstalten zu Niederwiesa am Queisse. Johann Siegmund Bachstein died 21 April 1816. See Deutsches biographisches Archiv. [...]. Mikrofiche-Edition, München 1982, fiche 45, images 422-424.

3. On 3-5 December 1959 the album was auctioned at Gerd Rosen’s, Berlin, as lot 2348.


The album contains 49 contributions for Christian Gottlieb Simon, mostly with place and date. They have been inscribed at Freiberg in 1730, Dresden and nearby Grumbach in 1730-1734, and Leipzig in 1734-1737. Four contributions are of a later date (1752, 1762, 1766 and 1779). Two of them as well as two undated ones have been written by relatives of the album’s owner: his father Johann Christian Simon (p. 85), his sister J.C. Simon (p. 123), his son August Gottlieb Simon (1762; p. 69), and Paul Ferdinand Simon (1766; p. 157), who too may have been a son of Christian Gottlieb. Most of the other contributions are by friends from his youth in Freiberg and fellow-students in Dresden and Leipzig, and deal with the usual subjects: piety, virtue and friendship, with quotations from Ovid, Gellert, Günther and others. Among the Dresden contributors are Christian Friedrich von Brand (p. 65), Friedrich Gottlob Erdmann (p. 5), Caspar Milius (p. 82), J.S. de Ponickau (pp. 114-115), Ernestus Fridericus Redslob, notary public (p. 93), and Alexander Heinrich Siepmann, secretary of the Saxon politician Count von Brühl (pp. 124-125). Some Leipzig contributors include Johann Friedrich Ruhkopf (p. 162), Jacob Stählin, possibly identical with Jacob Stählin (1709-1785), biographer of Peter the Great (pp. 126-127), Ernst Gottlieb Schetcky (p. 101), Engelbert Heinrich Schwarz (pp. 154-155), and Wilhelm Erich Stockmann (p. 131).

The thirteen added leaves from the Album Amicorum of Johann Siegmund Bachstein contain twelve contributions. The ones with places and dates were done in Seidenberg (Silesia) in 1747, Wittenberg (Saxony) in 1748, and Hirschberg (Silesia) in 1753-1754. Some names of contributors include J.G. Conrad (p. 9), Christian Joseph Exner (p. 51), Jacob Gottlieb Klossius (p. 145), Christian Gottfried Standfuß (p. 146), and Christian Daniel Weissig (p. 41).

The Album amicorum (Latin for “book of friendship”) began to appear in the middle of the sixteenth century, perhaps originating in Wittenberg and associated with university life as students travelled around Europe to different universities. Students collected autographs of professors and fellow-students whom they met at universities far from home. Such contributions include biblical, classical and literary quotations, proverbs and personal tokens of affection, and could be embellished with coats of arms, emblematic or allegorical representations, and scenes from daily life. At first, inscriptions by friends, acquaintances, teachers, and family members were made on the spare pages of printed books, then on copies of emblem books, and finally on books printed sometimes with borders for album use. By the seventeenth century, the oblong format was preferred, and blank copy books, often with lavish gold tooling, could be bought for this purpose.

The practice flourished in Germany and Switzerland, and then particularly in Leiden, which had a strong university community, and The Netherlands became after Germany the most important area of circulation for the album. Albums were soon compiled by people other than students, mainly members of the bourgeosie, including women. Members of the nobility used them as heraldic notebooks containing watercolors of shields and mottos (hence the German word “Stammbuch”). Frequently they contain drawings and watercolors, sometimes by famous artists (there are albums with drawings by Rembrandt, for example). Sometimes they include sheets of music. In German- and Dutch-speaking lands, the album remained in fashion through the early nineteenth century. As a genre, many such manuscripts survive. They offer an unparallelled source for cultural and historical research, including biography, prosopography, the history of universities, social networks, literary and artistic taste, popular and highbrow imagery, among many other subjects.

The German professor and theologist Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), who was closely associated with the Reformation, early on recognized the utility of the Album Amicorum (quoted in Nickson, pp. 9-10): “These little books certainly have their uses: above all they remind the owners of people, and at the same time bring to mind the wise teaching which has been inscribed in them, and they serve as a reminder to the younger students to be industrious in order that the professor may inscribe some kind and commendatory words on parting so that they may always prove themselves brave and virtuous during the remainder of their lives, inspired, even if only through the names of good men, to follow their example. At the same time the inscription itself teaches knowledge of the character of the contributor, and quite often significant passages from otherwise and unknown and little-read authors are found in albums. Finally, they record biographical details which would otherwise be forgotten.”

Public collections with important holdings of German Alba Amicorum are the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, the Staatsbibliothek in Bamberg, the Sachsische Landesbibliothek -- Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek in Dresden, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, and the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. The Royal Library in The Hague is the major repository of Dutch examples. The British Library in London has a huge collection of albums, purchased en bloc in 1850 from the estate of Erhard Christoph Bezzel, a scholar of Nuremberg history (especially Egerton MSS 1178-1498; later supplemented as Egerton MSS 1536-1607). Princeton University Library has an autograph collection of more than 200 examples dating from the mid-nineteenth century (see below).


p. 5, Rose (pen-and-wash, on a pasted-in piece of paper);

p. 9, Minerva guiding a student (pen-and-wash);

p. 13, Cyparissus changed into a cypress tree after he has accidentally killed his tame deer (pen-and-wash, full-page);

p. 20, Man pulling another’s tooth (pen-and-wash), illustrating a quotation from Marcus Manilius: “Omnia conando docilis solertia vincit” (A docile disposition will, with application, surmount every difficulty);

p. 27, Student reading, while two others are chatting (pen-and-wash), with the caption “Ut recte studeat S.A.L. studiosus edat” (S.A.L. appears to be zealous in studying well);

p. 41, Man climbing a mountain towards a castle (ink), with the motto “PER ASPERA AD ASTRA” (Through difficulties to the stars);

p. 46, Teacher lecturing for students (pen-and-wash), with the motto “Discipulus est prioris, posterior dies” (The following day is the student of the previous day) and a quotation from Marcus Manilius: “Per varios casus artem experientia fecit, Exemplo monstrante viam” (By repeated practice, and with example showing the way, experience makes skill);

p. 51, Hercules, in full armor, with the lion of Nemea (pen-and-wash);

p. 57, Angel leading a young man away from the devil (ink), with a quotation from Martial: “Quod sis, esse velis, nihilque malis” (May you wish to be what you are and prefer nothing else);

p. 61, Two students reading and writing in a study (pen-and-wash), illustrating the inscription “Ist was uns Maro dort von Schäfer Liebe singt, / Ein Lied das fabelhaft in unsern Ohren klingt; / So wollen ich und Du des Enkels Enkeln zeigen / Die Unschuld jener Zeit ist auch noch Deutschen eigen” (What Maro [= Virgil] sings here of bucolic love, is a song that marvelously sounds in our ears. In the same way you and I will show future generations that the innocence of those days is typical for Germans too);

p. 77, Allegorical representation of the right and the wrong use of mathematics (ink, full-page);

p. 91, Emblematic representation of a hand above a fountain (watercolor), with the caption “VIRES ALIT” (He revives the strength);

p. 115, Man measuring the distance between Dresden and Leipzig (pen-and-wash), illustrating the inscription “Geliebter Freund, so viel man Schritte von Dreßden biß nach Leiptzig mißst, / So viel mahl will ich an dich dencken wenn du von mir entfernet bist” (Dear friend, when you are away from me, I will think of you as many times / As one measures steps from Dresden to Leipzig);

p. 125, Hand writing “La Providence y pourvoira” (Providence will see to it) on a shield (pen-and-wash);

p. 138, Trompe l’oeil with a page from an edition of Ovid’s Amores, with the end of Elegy 5 and the beginning of Elegy 6 (pen-and-wash);

p. 143, Amorous couple (pen-and-wash), with a quotation from Ovid: “Vim licet appellent, tamen est vis grata puellis” (You may call it force, but it is force that pleases girls);

p. 146, Stork with a man’s face on its breast (gouache), with the motto “GNOTHI SEAUTON” (Know thyself);

p. 147, Personification of Patience and a lamb (ink), with the captions “Patientia Victrix” (Victress Patience) and “Die Geduld giebet Sieg und Gottes Huld” (Patience brings victory and the grace of God), and with the motto “Patientia rara virtus” (Patience is a rare virtue);

p. 151, Personification of Time (pen-and-wash, full-page), with the motto “O Tempora! O Mores!” (Oh the times! Oh the customs!), illustrating a quotation from Johann Christian Günther: “O lächerliche Zeit! dein Bild verdient den Brand, / O nimm statt Sens und Ring zwey Pritschen in die Hand, / Fünff Schellen auf den Kopf, den Fuchsschwanz statt der Flügel / So zeigst du was du bist: den andern Eulenspiegel” (O ridiculous Time! your image deserves to be burnt, / Take two baubles in your hand instead of scythe and ring, / Five bells on your head and fox tails instead of wings, / In that way you show what you are: just another fool);

p. 155, Map of the world (watercolor, full-page), illustrating the last line of the inscription: “daß wir der Welt ein Bild getreuer Freundschaft geben” (that we show the world an image of loyal friendship).

The drawings with scenes of student life on pp. 20, 27 and 61 are by the same hand.

The magnificent Hainhofer Album achieved a record price of $2,368,000 for an Album Amicorum at auction in the Cornelis J. Hauck sale in New York at Christies on June 27-28, 2006. More modest examples like the present one are easily within the reach of most bibliophiles, as well as libraries, and remain a largely untapped resource for study and exhibition especially suited to colleges and universities. An international electronic resource records examples, both complete and fragmentary, that are in the public and private spheres, and offers much additional information, although for the moment it is only available in German (Repertorivm Alborvm Amicorvm; see below).


Fechner, Jörg-Ulrich(ed.). Stammbücher als kulturhistorische Quellen, Munich, 1981 (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, 11).

Keil, Robert and Richard. Die deutschen Stammbücher des sechzehnten bis neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Ernst und Scherz, Weisheit und Schwank in Original-Mittheilungen zur deutschen Kultur-Geschichte, Berlin, 1893 (reprint Hildesheim, 1975).

Klose, W. “Stammbücher–eine kulturhistorische Betrachtung,”Bibliothek und Wissenschaft 16 (1982), pp. 41-67.

Kurras, Lotte. Zu gutem Gedenken. Kulturhistorische Miniaturen aus Stammbüchern des Germanischen Nationalmuseums 1570-1770, Munich, 1987.

Lilienthal, M. Schediasma critico-literarium de philiothecis varioque earundum usu et abusu, vulgo von Stamm-Büchern, Königsberg, 1712; rev. Wittenberg, 1740 (repr. in Fechner, 1981, pp. 237-298). [the first study of Alba Amicorum].

Nickson, M.A.E. Early Autograph Albums in the British Museum, London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1970.

Rosenheim, Max. The album amicorum, Oxford, 1910.

Schünemann, Hugo. “Stammbücher,”Schrifttumsberichte zur Genealogie und zu ihren Nachbargebieten 2 (1965), pp. 67-108.

Taegert, Werner. Edler Schatzholden Erinnerns. Bilder in Stammbüchern der Staatsbibliothek Bamberg aus vier Jahrhunderten, Bamberg, 1995.

Thomassen, Kees (ed.). Alba amicorum. Vijf eeuwen vriendscap op papier gezet. Het album amicorum en het poëziealbum in de Nederlanden, Maarssen/The Hague, 1990.

Online resources

Repertorivm Alborvm Amicorvm. Internationales Verzeichnis von Stammbüchern und Stammbuchfragmenten in öffentlichen und privaten Sammlungen:

Alciato’s Emblems and the Album Amicorum by William Barker

Netherlandish Alba Amicorum

Autograph Manuscript Collection, Princeton University

Grove Art Online: Album amicorum