Chronogram
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What is a Chronogram?     top
A chronogram is a sentence that has hidden numbers.
Most chronograms are Latin inscriptions on old houses.
You must interpret the letters I,V,X,L,C,D,M as Roman numerals and you must add them. The sum is the year of building.

If the chronogram is a hexameter, you call it a chronostichon.
If the chronogram is a distichon, you call it a chronodistichon.
(Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, Wiesbaden 1968)

Chronograms at Bad Salzuflen    top
1st Example:
The parish priest Johann Loofher lived in my home town Bad Salzuflen from 1615 to 1660. He designed a chronostichon for the facade of his house (now Lange Straße 10).

.............
It says
SIT LARIBVS NOSTRIS OPTO CONCORDIA CONSTANS NOSTER ET ASSIDVO LVCEAT IGNE FOCVS
(May this house be given permanent harmony, I wish, and the fire of our stove is to shine in ever lasting gleam.)

There is the addition: DOMINUS PROVIDEBIT (The Lord will manage it.).

The sum of the Roman numerals is
I+L+I+V+I+C+C+D+I+C+I+D+V+L+V+C+I+C=1621. The house was built in 1621.

 ...... The author's name was under the chronogram above the hall entrance in former times (photo from 1890).
There are two mistakes:
The letter T in NOSTRIS is bold while renovated and the author didn't use the letter V in FOCVS in order to get the right year 1621.

2nd Example:
In the neighbourhood (Lange Str.1) there is an inscription

SVRGE O IEHOVA ATQVE DISPERGE INIMICOS TVOS
(Get up, oh Jehova, and destroy your enemies.)

The chronogram is psalm 68:2 - slightly altered.

Here you get 1625 as the year of building.
 You can also see the number 1625 in Arabian letters on the gable.

3rd Example:  Spa Museum top
In the spa museum in Bad Salzuflen you can see a joist with two chronograms. In former times it was above the hall entrance of Georg Schröder's house, Loofher's son-in-law.

The first line is
GLORIA SIT DEO PAX IN TERRA ET HOMINIBVS BONA VOLVNTAS
(Glory to God, peace on earth and a satisfaction to mankind.)

The second line is
PRINCIPIVM DEVS AETERNVS FINISQVE BEATV
(The eternal God is both, the beginning and the blessed end.)

Both lines contain the year 1630. The first chronogram comes from the Christmas Story St.Luke's Gospel 2:14. It is interesting to know that you can see this biblical saying on the edge of the pulpit roof of  St. Kilian's church at Schötmar/Bad Salzuflen. - The second chronogram is a chronodistichon.

4th Example: Salzhof  top
It is reported that there was a chronostichon on a house (from 1631) at the Salzhof with the wording

IOVE SALIS VIVIT DOMINVS LARGITOR ET AVTOR
(God is alive, the Lord, the spender and creator of the salt.)

There is an anecdote about it:
The former richness of the city was due to salt fountains. The ruler at that time, "Graf Simon VI. von Lippe/Detmold", was a member of the "Salzkollegium" (salt union) and constantly concluded new treaties to his advantage to enrich himself. After his death his "Salzkotten" (salt house) was pulled down. The Salzschreiber's  (salt secretary's) office with the chronogam just mentioned was built in this place. The town made clear: The real owner of the salt fountains was God. (1)

 ...... The copperplate on the left made by Elias von Lennep (1663, Staatsarchiv Detmold) shows a steam cloud of the salt-works over the town. The salt water was heated in lead pans until the salt crystallized. - Today Bad Salzuflen is a spa. Today there is another steam cloud in Lippe over the town of Lage ;-).

There are two more half-timbered houses with fragments of chronograms, the "Brandessche Apotheke am Markt" and "Haus Schuseil in der Wenkenstraße". Obviously the chronograms were destroyed and difficult to reconstruct today (8).

More Chronograms in the Bad Salzuflen Area     top

There is a chronogram from 1594  in the "Langen Straße 36" at Detmold.

TV RERVM CVSTOS EXTRVCTA HAEC TECTA POTENTER ALIS SVB GRATIS PROTEGE CHRISTE TVI
(Lord of the objects, mightily and powerfully preserve this new built house in the protection of your merciful wings, Christ [3].)

This chronogram is a distichon. The facade of the house was renovated in 1980. Then they found the chronogram and rich ornaments at the joist. The chronogram was partly reconstructed.

There is a chronogram at the "Westfälisches Freilichtmuseum Detmold"  imported from Kirchhunden-Flape (Kreis Olpe) to Lippe.

EXTRVXERE ADES HANS ET CATARINA IVGALI STRICTI VINCLO QVAS DVLCIS REX SERVET IESVS
1623

Translated from Latin to German:
Hans und Catarina, durch das eheliche Band vereint, haben (dies) Haus errichtet, das Jesus, der süße König, bewahren möge.

At Herford there is a chronogram over a side exit of the catholic church St. Johannes Baptist.

ECCLESIA TANDEM EX TENSA SIT INTRANTI LVX SALVS ET VITA
1890

At Schwalenberg  there was a house with a chronodistichon (1656) at the "Pollhof" until the turn of the 18/19th century.
It was
HAS AEDES NVTV FECERVNT PASTOR ET VXOR HERMANNVS TRINI PAXQVE BONA INSIT IIS
(Hermann, the parish priest, and his wife built this house here on the Holy Trinity and peace might live in it [3].)

At Horn the house "Mittelstraße 43" has the inscription:
NEMO GAVDET VTROQVE SINE CVRA
(Nobody enjoys both without trouble[3].)

This is wrong. It had to be
NEMO GAVDET IN VTROQVE SAECVL
(Nobody has pleasure in both worlds [3].)

The house was renovated in 1975. Only three words of the chronogram were left. The missing letters were added in a wrong way. This is shown in an old photo. - The year 1671 belonged to this chronogram.

Photo Herbert Penke

Herbert Penke from Horn told me that there is a second chronogram. The third gravestone on the web page "alte Grabsteinplatten an der evangelischen Stadtkirche in Horn" has the following chronogram
Source: http://www.nhv-ahnenforschung.de/grabsteine/horn-kirche.htm

A chronogram is saved in Lügde (Vordere Straße 41), where the Roman letters were not emphasized. The year is 1798.

EX BVSTO AC PHOENIX DOMVS HAC EXSVRGITIN ALTA
(The house arises here like a Phoenix from the ashes of the burnt place[4].)
The chronogram has a small mistake. It says AITA instead of ALTA.

A chronogram decorates the baroque portal of the "Meindersschen Hof" in  Bielefeld (Obernstraße 40).
SOLVS IOVA DOMVS SIT AVTOR ET FAVTOR / VIVENTES IN EO PAX QVE SALVE BEET
(God alone is to look after, protect and support this house, peace and prosperity shall be granted to those, who live in it [5].)

The year is 1659.

Wiedenbrück  is rich in old half timbered houses with some chronograms

1) LAVS HONOR VIRTVS BENE DICTIO ET FORTITVDO SINT DEO NOBIS PROPITI
Ratskeller
2) DANTE DEOHAS AEDES BESOLENS PAX VNA FOVEBI
Lange Straße 71
3) AB IGNE ANNO SVPERIORE VASTATA RESVRREXICVRA IOANNIS HESING ET MAGDALENAE OSTBERG
Straße?
4) QVOD IGNIS ABSVMPSIT POLVS FELICITER REPARAVIT
Ecke Düsternstraße / Marienstraße

There is a epitaph in Lemgo in the church St.Marien (12./13.century) that reminds on the "lippischen Kanzler" Heinrich Kerkmann (died in 1603). The main plate shows a hymn of praise for him. Six lines are chronogramms.
 ACCEPIT SANCTI CELSOS HOS IVRIS HONORES INGENII MERITO TANTA TROPAEA CAPIT (1564)   HIC PERIT OCTAVO TERNOQVE VBI CORNVA MAIVS EXPLICAT AT SANCTVS SPIRITVS ASTRA PETIT. (1603) BIS DENO ET QVINTO MAIO SVRGENTE SEPVLTVS: GREX NOTAT ANGORES TVRBA FREQVENSQVE GRAVES, (1603)
(6)

Chronograms in German  top
Peter Rump aus Schwerte sandte mir ein Chronogramm in Deutsch aus Iserlohn-Letmathe (Hagener Straße 105) zu:

1797, W=VV

In Lippstadt befindet sich ein schmuckvolles Chronogramm, auch in Deutsch.
Was WIr haben aVsgestreVt, WIrDt Von Gott WoLL abgeMeIt
1658, W=VV
Was wir haben ausgestreut, wird von Gott wohl abgemäht. - Was wir gesät haben, wird von Gott geerntet.
 "Johan Vogtt und Anna Ebberdes" 1658

Felix-Bastian Sprung found the following chronogram at the Herrenhaus Wellingsbüttel in Hamburg.
 KEIN SCHLOSS IN ALLER WELT, NOCH WAS ES BIRGT AN SCHÄTZEN, KANN WELLINGSB[VE]TTEL IE ALS LIEBLINGSPLATZ ERSETZEN, SO LANG ZVFRIEDENHEIT, GL[VE]CK, FROHSINN ES BEWOHNEN, SO LANGE ZVIETRACHT[1] NOTH, WIE KRANKHEIT ES VERSCHONEN.

Ü=VE and W=VV leads to the year 1888.
[1] The correct spelling ("Zwietracht") would count 5 too much.

Chronograms from the Baroque Period     top
The following chronogram from Eichstätt (Bavaria) describes the year 1736.

 IESV MARIAE PARENTI VIRGINEAE SINE LABE PVRAE PRAETEREVNDO CAVE NE SILEAT AVE! Think about, greeting Jesus' Virgin mother Maria, the Immaculate, with an "Ave" while passing.

This chronogram is different. Most of the chronograms on this page come from the (protestant) Northern Germany and are assigned to the Weserrenaissance, which was influenced by the Netherlands. This chronogram belongs to the (catholic) Southern Germany and to the baroque period.
This addition is neccessary, so that there is no wrong impression: Chronograms were in great fashion in the baroque period and you find many of them in Southern Germany and the regions of the Austria-Hungarian monarchy.

Chronograms from Trieste
Guido Ruzzier sent me two chronograms from Trieste. Trieste was one part of the Habsburg Monarchy until 1918.
CVM DEO VIVO IN PACE
Ich lebe in Frieden mit Gott.  (1717)

IN IESV CRVCIFIXI HONOREM DENVO RESTAVRATA
(This house was) newly restored to honour Jesus Christ Crucified. (1735)

Chronograms on the Internet top

English

Tony Campbell
Chronogram dates of cartographic interest

Wikipedia
Chronogram, Vicarius Filii DeiGematria

Deutsch

Webseite des Priesterseminars Brixen
Der Chronogramm Assistent

Dr. Hermann Josef Frings
CHRONOGRAMMATA

Herbert Penke (nach 8)
Inschriften an Bad Salzufler Häusern

Stadt Luxemburg
Lateinische Inschriften

Wikipedia
Chronogramm, Gematrie

Dutch

Rik Palmans
JAARTALLEN ALS CHRONOGRAMMEN    (Chronogramme aus Maastricht und Umgebung)

Chronogramme aus Westfalen-Lippe und Umgebung

Bielefeld
Battig-Haus

Vellern
Eine kurze Geschichte des Alten Pfarrhauses

Warendorf
Chronogramme in Warendorf

I also found references to Chronograms at Büren, Gemen, Geseke, Jülich, Kloster Dahlheim, Schloss Neuhaus, Soest, Teltge, Wiedenbrück,  and Warburg on the internet.

References   top
(1) Wilhelm Pölert: Alt-Salzuflen, Schötmar 1931, Neubearbeitung von Otto Pölert, Schötmar 1960
(2) Karl Bachler: Salzuflen Anno dazumal, Lemgo 1977, Seite 59
(3) Hanns-Peter Fink: Lateinische Hausinschriften in Lippe, Lippische Mitteilungen aus Geschichte und Landeskunde, 50.Band, Detmold 1981  (Im Internet verfügbar)
Aus dieser Schrift stammen einige Übersetzungen. Es ist dem Autor gelungen, das Versmaß zu bewahren.
(4) Hanns-Peter Fink: Nachtrag zu den Lateinischen Hausinschriften in Lippe, Lippische Mitteilungen aus Geschichte und Landeskunde, 52.Band, Detmold 1983  (Im Internet verfügbar)
(5) Bernd Hey u.a. (Hrsg.): Historische Spaziergänge durch Bielefeld, ...
(6) Otto Gaul/Ulf-Dietrich Korn: Bau-und Kunstdenkmäler von Westfalen, 49.Band Teil 1, Stadt Lemgo
(7) Hanns-Peter Fink: Zwei Chronogramme in Bad Salzuflen, Heimatland Lippe 64. Jg., Detmold 1971 S. 114 -116
(Im Internet verfügbar)
(8) Stefan Wiesekopsieker: Inschriften an Salzufler Häusern [ISBN 978-3-926311-57-3]

Gail from Oregon Coast, thank you for supporting me in my translation.

Feedback: Email address on my main page

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https://www.mathematische-basteleien.de/

©  1999 Jürgen Köller

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