[Illuminated, German-Language Manuscript Taufschein Fraktur:] A Christian Baptismal Wish: I’ve been baptized and registered, The Book of Life includes me [now]... [opening lines in translation]
Curious crudely-executed folk art, dated 1818, a German-language taufschein or baptismal certificate illuminated with ink and pencil decorations. Fitting for a baptismal wish, the manuscript is illustrated with a chicken and egg motif symbolic of creation, birth, and new life. The opening lines declare in German [transcription approximate:]: “I’ve been baptized and registered, The Book of Life includes me [now], My Father will love me eternally / And be merciful to His child, / Godly surely knows me already for a long time, / My name rests in His hand.”
The design of the taufschein incorporates alternating lines, circles, and triangles forming a decorative, abstract border for the text. The chicken and egg illustration surmounts the whole. Square blocks of color in the four corners of the broadside certificate possibly evoke a picture frame or, even, brass corner bosses seen on elaborately bound Bibles of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The taufschein is accompanied by a one-page, German manuscript leaf [untranslated] written on identical paper. It is also dated 1818. We do not believe the pair are of German-American origin, but we do believe they were kept by German Americans. Both were acquired together and anecdotally came from an estate in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, an area of early settlement of Germans in America.
The watermarks on each appear to be identical, of the “Vryheyt” (“Freedom”) type used in Holland, though imitated in England, Sweden and, later, the United States; see Churchill’s Watermarks in Paper numbers 79–108. The watermark appears in full on the illustration; only the top part appears on the plain manuscript. The watermark appears to show a lion holding a stave within a circle surmounted by a crown. The circle appears to show a motto, but it is hard to discern; it possibly reads “Pro Patria Eiusque Libertate”.
Description: [Illuminated, German-Language Manuscript Taufschein Fraktur:] A Christian Baptismal Wish: I’ve been baptized and registered, The Book of Life includes me [now]... [opening lines in translation]
[Np, 1818]. Broadside. Approx. 10½ x 8¼ inches. Laid paper with watermark. Ink manuscript with red ink and pencil illustration and decorations. Folds and creases; irregularly trimmed margins; light soiling; some wear in right margin, not affecting text or decorations; very good. [offered with:] a 1-page, German manuscript leaf of laid paper bearing the identical watermark and also dated 1818. Folds and creases with small perforation, not affecting text; very good.