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So, what is a lottery-book (Losbuch)?
It was used for telling the future (a bit like
In the later Middle Ages so many people were using them that the Church was moved to ban them repeatedly (along with other forms of gaming – and of course the Church still does ban them). As a result very few lottery-books have survived. The particular one on show here, drawn and painted by Konrad Bollstatter, together with another one by him preserved in Frankfurt, are amongst the few survivors. This particular one was compiled over a period of some 25 years in the middle of the fifteenth century, which suggests that Bollstatter kept it for himself as a private, favoured possession – though he did also include a warning against using them: Don’t tempt Fate with Lottery-books: …(below)
The way the lottery-book
works is simple:
They then give you your answer – and we hope it’s the one you wanted !
Want advice? – Ask Bollstatter!
Konrad Bollstatter’s ‘real’ name was Konrad Müller, but he used several aliases, including: Conradus Mulitor, Hans Lappleder, Johannes Seydenschwanz. He lived in southern Germany half a millennium ago at the tail end of the Middle Ages. The year of his death coincided with the year of Martin Luther’s birth: 1483. He is assumed to have been born c.1425.
Of his various aliases, Bollstatter is the most distinguished – it was the name of an aristocratic family in the region of Augsburg, ‘von Bollstadt’. So (we wonder): if he was entitled to use that name at all, why did he not use it all the time? – illegitimacy has to be surmised.
Little is known of Bollstatter’s life. From lists of witnesses in legal documents it is clear that he moved around quite widely in southern Germany up to the last 15 years or so of his life; these last years were spent in the great and wealthy city of Augsburg. There are hints that he may have married an Augsburgerin but there is no surviving marriage certificate.
He earned his living as a ‘Schreiber’, i.e. a ‘clerk’, which in his case meant writing out legal and administrative documents and also, rather more prestigiously but not necessarily more remuneratively, writing out a number of well-known religious and literary texts. As many as 22 manuscripts have survived in his handwriting. Although he might have aspired to become a Town Clerk, he never did achieve that status.
Probably the biggest adventure in his life was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. A passage at the end of one of his manuscripts recounting such a journey by another man provides some good advice to would-be pilgrims – don’t expect anybody to transport you there just for the love of God ! – and Bollstatter adds a list of minimum charges for local transport and taxes. This passage has the ring of hard-won personal experience.
With his particular gifts
as calligrapher and illuminator it is likely that, if Bollstatter had
been born fifty years earlier, he would have lived his life in some
sort of association with a monastery.