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Birth and Baptismal Certificate for Johannes Behler with an Alphabet

ca. 1810
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Lehigh County
Primary Support: 13 x 7 3/4in. (33 x 19.7cm) and Framed: 15 1/4 x 9 7/8 x 1in. (38.7 x 25.1 x 2.5cm)
Watercolor and ink on laid paper
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1993.305.7
A birth and baptismal certificate with, at the top, the letters of the alphabet, thus allying the piece with Vorschriften. A horizontal red line near center separates text and lettering enclosed within pictorial elements (above) from a lengthy text without pictorial elements (below). At the top, texts appear within a crown and within each of two hearts to either side of a shield below the crown. Flowers sprout from the crown, shield, and hearts. Red, green, and yellow watercolors and black ink were used, and a red border surrounds the whole composition.
As of 1/5/2004, the object is framed in a new, 7/8-inch wide, black-painted, molded cyma recta wood frame made by Black Dog Gallery, Yorktown, Va.
Label:Given the alphabet in the crown at top, this piece would seem to be a combination Vorschrift (writing exercise) and Geburts-und-Taufschein (birth and baptismal certificate).
Provenance:Unidentified couple in Bloomsburg (Columbia Co.), Pa.; sold to Lee Dockey, Pillow, Pa.; about 1975, sold to Pastor Frederick S. Weiser, New Oxford, Pa., who gave the piece to Pastor Larry Neff, New Oxford, Pa., the latter being CWF's source.

Mark(s):No watermark found.
Inscription(s):Inscribed in pencil in script twice on the reverse is "John Baylor Sr."

[In the left heart]: Ich bin getauft ob/ich gleich sterbe/was schadet/mir das/kühle/grab.

[In the right heart]: Ich Weiss mein/Vaterland und/erbe das ich/bey Gott im/Himmel/hab.

[In the lower half]: Diesen beiden Ehe gatten Johannes Behler und seiner/Ehlichen Haus frau Elizabeth eine gebohrne Christian/Clauszin ist ein Sohn zur Welt gebohren Namens/Johannes Behler im Jahr Christi 1808 den 27sten/Tag April um 3 Uhr Nachmittags: Dieser/Johannes Behler ist gebohren und getauft in/America, im Staat Pennsylvanien, in Lecha/Caunty, und in Heidelberg Taunschip:/Ob gemelder Johannes Behler is getauft worden/den 27sten Tag May in besaytem Jahr von/Herrn Johan Henrich Helffrich Reformirter/Prediger Tauf=zeugen bey dieser Heiligen/Handlung wurder Ehrsame Henrich Clauss/und Catharina Behler in sedigen Standes/damals.

Translations by Frederick S. Weiser, done prior to the piece's illustration in FRAKTUR (see "Bibliography"), read as follows:

[In the left heart]: "I have been baptized; even if I die at once the cool grave cannot harm me."

[In the right heart]: "I know my fatherland and heritance which I have in heaven with God."

[In the lower half]: "To these two married people Johannes Behler and his lawful wife Elisabeth, born a Christian Clauszin [i.e., a daughter of Christian Clauss], a son was born into the world by the name of Johannes Behler in the year of Christ 1808, the 27th day of April at 3 in the afternoon. This Johannes Behler was born and baptized in America, in the state of Pennsylvania in Lehigh County and in Heidelberg Township. The above mentioned Johannes Behler was baptized on 27th day of May in the said year by Mr. Johan Henrich Helffrich, Reformed Preacher, Baptismal sponsors at this holy transaction were the honorable Henrich Clauss and Catharina Behlerin, single at the time."