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SCHEDEL, Hartmann.

Liber chronicarum.

Nuremberg: by Anton Koberger, for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 1493 Stock Code: 108472
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The celebrated Nuremberg Chronicle, the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century

First edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle, the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century, a universally acknowledged masterpiece of complex design.

Compiled by the Nuremberg physician, humanist and bibliophile Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), the text is a year-by-year account of notable events in world history from the Creation to the year of publication, including the invention of printing at Mainz, the exploration of the Atlantic and of Africa, as well as references to the game of chess and to medical curiosities, including what is believed to be the first depiction of Siamese twins.

Drawn by the author from multiple medieval and Renaissance sources, such as Bede, Vincent of Beauvais, Martin of Tropau, Flavius Blondus, Bartolomeo Platina, and Philippus de Bergamo (Iacopo Filippo Foresta), the Chronicle also incorporates geographical and historical information on European countries and towns. The colophon on 266r marks the completion of the work of Hartmann Schedel; George Alt, a scribe at Nuremberg treasury who made the German translation, is the author of the remainder of the text.

The book is especially famed for its series of over 1,800 woodcuts depicting biblical subjects, classical and medieval history, and a large series of city views in Europe and the Middle East - Augsburg, Bamberg, Basel, Cologne, Nuremberg, Rome, Ulm and Vienna among them, also Jerusalem (and its destruction) and Byzantium. The double-page map of Europe includes the British Isles, Iceland and Scandinavia, and the Ptolemaic world map is apparently sourced from the frontispiece of Pomponius Mela's Cosmographia (Venice, Ratdolt, 1488).

The work was carefully planned, with manuscript Examplar volumes being made for both the Latin and the German text version that followed closely afterwards. The Latin edition was printed in Koberger's shop between May 1492 and October 1493. Wilson, The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle (1976), approves Dr Peter Zahn's count of probably 1,500 Latin copies printed, of which approximately 1,240 have survived.

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Imperial folio (444 x 310 mm), 325 leaves (of 326; without final blank). Contemporary German dyed-brown pigskin blind-tooled in a panel design with three frames filled with floral and scrollwork roll-tools, central panel with floral stamps; edges sprinkled blue, neatly mounted on later boards. Housed in a brown quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.


63 lines plus headline, Gothic letter, xylographic title-page, 645 woodcut illustrations by Pleydenwurff and Wohlgemuth repeated to a total of 1,809, some full-page, others double-page, including a double-page map of the world showing the Gulf of Guinea d


With the inscription on title of Johan Divel dated 1547 recording its gift from the estate of Herwart[?] of the canons of St Blasius in Brunschweig; small library stamp with crown and phrase "Karl ProPr" on title; posthumous bookplate of noted American bibliophile Robert S. Pirie laid in. Some contemporary sidenotes or captions identifying cities. Later spine worn, head and foot of spine chipped, corners mended; clean marginal tears mended in leaves 12, 56, & 291, small marginal smudges and spots, light browning within text block in leaves 172-182, 217, 250, dampstain in lower outer corner of last 16 leaves, a few tiny mends at lower edge of last leaf; overall, a very good copy.


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