The different kinds of decorated paper from the Near East, of which this manuscript is made, belong to the oldest ever produced. They were first brought to Western Europe from the East by merchants in the second half of the sixteenth century. Of these Turkish and Persian decorated papers - including silhouette paper, marbled paper, sprinkled paper, and plain, coloured paper - an armorial has been made. The reproduction on the opposite page shows a coat of arms on silhouette paper. The technique of making such paper originated in Iran and was highly developed, especially in Turkey. The silhouettes, often in the form of trails with flowers or leaves, were cut out of thin leather, impregnated with solutions of dyes - often red, yellow or green - and subsequently printed between a folded sheet of paper. This was then brushed with high-protein vegetable extracts and finally mat-finished by working it with a polishing stone. Sometimes a thin, narrow layer of gold was added to the outlines of the silhouettes before polishing.
The heraldic manuscript contains 75 coats of arms, beginning with the arms of the German Emperor Rudolf II. The next pages bear the arms of the archbishop of Mainz, the president of the State Council and the other councillors, as indicated on the back of the first page: ‘Verzaichnusz Desz Allerdurchleüchtigisten (...) herrn Rudolffen des andern (...) Hochloblichisten Reichshoff Raths, Presidenten, Referendarien vnnd Räthen, vom sechsundsibentzigisten, bisz auf gegenwirdiges Jar’. The arms have been executed in gold, silver and various colours, and annotated with names and titles. In a number of cases the date and place of death have been added at a later date.
The manuscript was acquired in 1977 with the paper collection of Dr G. Dessauer from Düsseldorf.
Armorial of members of the State Council of Rudolf II of Habsburg (1552-1612), German Emperor. Germany, c. 1580-1602. Paper, 81 leaves, 189 x 121 mm. Contains 75 painted coats of arms, touched with gold. - 77 L 30, fol. 52v-53r