Lazarus Ercker von Schreckenfels (1528 – 1594) was Emperor Rudolf II's adviser in all matters concerning mining, and also bore the responsibilities of Master of the Mint, inter-alia in Kuttenberg, the most important silver deposit in Bohemia from the 12th to the middle of the 16th century.
Ercker’s work, first published in 1574, is the first manual for metallurgical assaying and generally describes the obtaining of metals from ores and, in separate chapters, the processes for gold, silver, lead, copper, tin and quicksilver. This first edition is dedicated to Emperor Maximilian II.
The copy held by the Austrian National Library is coloured throughout, some of the illustrations having gold relief. The binding, richly ornamented with gold, and the punched gilt edge suggest that this copy was created for a high-ranking personality.