HISTORIA HIALMARI REGIS BIARMLANDIÆ ATQUE THULEMARKIÆ, by [FORGERY.] PERINGSKIOLD, Johan.

HISTORIA HIALMARI REGIS BIARMLANDIÆ ATQUE THULEMARKIÆ, by [FORGERY.] PERINGSKIOLD, Johan. < >
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Typographical striking woodcut facsimile of a ‘fake’ runic manuscript

HISTORIA HIALMARI REGIS BIARMLANDIÆ ATQUE THULEMARKIÆ, ex fragmento Runici ms.ti literis recentioribus descripta, cum gemini versione Johannis Peringskioldi. [n.p. but Stockholm, possiby Olof Enaeus(?), n.d. but believed

1700-1701.]. Small thin folio, pp. [43] [1] blank; printed on thick paper in red and black, reproducing the Runic text in woodcut, with transcription into Old Norse and translation and explanatory text in Swedish and Latin (printed on rectos in double colums); with woodcut initials and tail-piece; a little browned throughout, with occasional marginal dust and finger soiling, but otherwise clean and crisp; contemporary half sheep over speckled boards, spine with raised bands, with red paper label lettered in gilt on upper cover embellished with four gilt crowns, spine a little rubbed with some minor worming, boards rather scuffed, corners and extremities somewhat worn; with the signature of Ragnar Dahlberg on front pastedown; a good copy. First edition of this striking and rare work, of interest to scholars not only of linguistics and typography, but also of fakes and forgeries.
Set in ancient Scandinavia, the Hjalmars och Ramers saga tells the story of King Hjalmar and his close friend Ramer as they engage in various conflicts. The saga first appeared in a dissertation, Fragmentum mscr. runici Cum interpretatione vernacula Nec Non aphorismi selecti in 1690, Uppsala by Lucas Halpap, who claimed in his introduction that it was edited from parchment fragments that he had unearthed. Its publication caused a sensation, and it was heralded as a national treasure as unlike Denmark, Sweden lacked runic texts written on materials other than stone. Noted antiquarian and scholar Johan Peringskiöld (1654-172) was so enthusiastic about the find that he soon acquired it and produced the present edition - effectively a woodcut facsimile of the fragmentary runic text, together with accompanying transcription in Old Norse, and Latin and Swedish translations and explanatory text printed in double columns. Peringskiöld’s edition was to then serve as the basis for the text which appeared in Oxford scholar George Hickes’ comprehensive survey of ancient Northern languages, Linguarum vetterum Septentrionalim thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archaeologicus (1703-1705, fol. IV. [ii.] 123-147).
Doubts about its authenticity emerged early on, but it was not until 1774 that it was finally exposed as a fake and forgery by Carl Gustav Nordin in his Monumenta Suiogothica vetustioris aevi falso meritoque suspecta, although it was still translated into French in 1797 by Pougens in his Essai sur les antiquités du Nord. While Halpap clearly played a role in the appearance of the forgery, no firm conclusions have been reached as to the true originator of the manuscript, although most agree that it stems from the circle of scholars close to Olof Rudbeck (1630-1702) at Uppsala University, and possibly Carl Lundius (1638-1715). It remains today in the curiosities collection of the Royal Library at Stockholm.

Bibliography: Fiske Runic literature p. 31; Freeman, A. Bibliotheca Fictiva: A Collection of Books & Manuscripts, New edition, nos 347 (and illustration 35); Havens, E. Fakes, Lies, and Forgeries,; p. 14-16; OCLC locates copies at Cornell, Berkeley, Chicago, Toronto, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Boston Athenaeum, Edinburgh, and the Royal Swedish Library.

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