Baron Münchhausen’s Hare ?

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Anno 1741. this Hare with 8 Legs and 2 hind Quarters has been shot in its burrow on the so-called Stickelsberg near Meisselhausen. Standing on a grotto before rich foliage. Etching with engraving. Inscribed: 60. / Joh. El. Ridinger del. sculps. et excud. Aug. Vind. 1753., otherwise in German as above. 13¼ × 10 in (33.8 × 25.5 cm).

Thienemann + Schwarz 302; Ridinger Catalog Darmstadt, 1999, VI.19 with ills. – Sheet 60 of the Representation of the Most Wondrous Deer and Other Animals. – The subject itself arched above. – Margins above & below 7.5-8.5, laterally 4.4-4.9 cm wide.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Hare with 8 legs

“ (E)xperience teaches, that there are many freaks, or monstrosities, with the species of hares, e. g.

hares with eight legs , two heads , four ears and the like … ”

(Georg Ludwig Hartig, Lehrbuch für Jäger, I [1812], p. 171).

However, the eight-legged hare came to great fame by Münchhausen’s tale:

“ Since I hunted a hare for two whole days … Finally though the hare came that near to me … He fell down, and what do you think what I found now? – Four legs my hare had below the body and four on the back. When the two lower pairs were tired then he turned … around, and now it went on with the new ones with enhanced speed. Never again I have found a hare of this kind … ”

(Gottfried August Bürger – ancestor on the mother’s side here – , [Marvelous Travels … and Comical Adventures of the Baron of Münchhausen], Leipsic, Dieterich, 1954, p. 27). – On the possibility of a relation to the German Münchhausen tale Mr. Heppell of the Dpt. of Natural History of the Royal Scottish Museum pointed out on occasion of an earlier visit.

First Münchhausen tales (Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von M. in Bodenwerder, Weser, 1720-1797) were published in part 8 of the “Vade Mecum”, Berlin 1781, and, translated into the English and enlarged by own contributions by the former German professor Rudolf Erich Raspe living in England since 1775, as first independent edition at Oxford, presumably 1785. Along with two further editions a second enlarged one followed in 1786, with the 5th to 7th ensuing between 1787 & 1793. The first German one, translated from the English by Bürger and significantly enlarged, was published with the faked imprint “London 1786” that year by the very Dieterich at Göttingen. And this version would turn the tales into a chapbook. “(I)t is the one created last” (Curt Noch).

The report on the eight-legged hare by the baron himself .

Offer no. 15,603 | EUR 530. | export price EUR 504. (c. US$ 609.) + shipping

“ Many years ago I bought from you the print/litho from Mourot ‘Sophia....’ We are still very happy with this acquisition. For my collection and family history/genealogy I am looking for some very special prints … ”

(Mijnheer P. van de W., May 19, 2012)


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