1288. [Germany - Nuremberg]
Imperial folio: [20, incl. title]-CCXCI- ff., ca. 65 ll. (our copy is most probably a composite copy: 10 ff. from at least one other black and white copy, the 3 last bl. ff. are missing as in numerous copies, soiling and spotting, stronger on title, some ff. dampstained, a few sm. tears in bl. margins, some ff. skilfully repaired, ff. IX and X inverted, occ. contemp. ms. annot.).
17th-c. overl. vellum, covers with gilt central ornament and ruled border, gilt orn. flat spine, red edges (recased, renewed endpapers, soiled).
First edition of the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th c. The 2 editions (Latin and German) were planned simultaneously, each with its own specially designed, new type, and both with the same woodcuts; the Latin ed. preceded the German by about 5 months. The text is a universal history of the Christian world from the beginning of time to the early 1490s, written in Latin by the Nuremberg physician and humanist Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), with on f. 252v the famous reference to the invention of printing in 1440 in Mainz. The Chronicle also incorporates geographical and historical information on European countries and towns. The narrative is divided into the 7 Ages of the World. The print run is estimated at 1800 copies.
- Illustration: impressive xylographic title; 1809 woodcuts from 645 blocks by Michael Wohlgemuth, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and their workshop, including Albrecht Dürer. The woodcuts show religious subjects from the Old and New Testament, classical and medieval history, and 27 city views, some in double-page, incl. Augsburg, Basel, Byzantium, Cologne, Florence, Jerusalem, Nuremberg, Prague, Rome, Venice and Vienna. Included are 2 double-page maps: a world map, folio XIII based on Mela's "Cosmographia" (1482), and a map of northern and central Europe by Hieronymus Münzer (1437-1508) after Nicolas Khyrpffs. The world map is one of only three 15th-century maps showing Portuguese knowledge of the Gulf of Guinea of about 1470. The map of Europe is closely associated with a Nicolas of Cusas Eichstätt map, with which it is thought to share a common manuscript source of ca. 1439-54. It is therefore claimed to be the first modern map of this region to appear in print. Although published later than the map of Germany in the 1482 Ulm Ptolemy, it was constructed earlier.
- Decoration: principal initials in the table and on folio I are supplied in red; many capitals, running titles and foliation highlighted in yellow and a few initials in red; some paragraph marks supplied in red. Many woodcuts decorated with yellow, light-green, light-red or blue washes (rare and probably modern use of pink and purple). The coloration does not appear to be complete. Is this preparatory work?
Ref. ISTC is00307000. - GW M40784. - Polain 3469. - BMC II:437. - CIBN S-161. - BSB-Ink S-195. - Bod-inc S-108. - Wilson, A. - The making of the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1976. - Reske, C. - Die Produktion der Schedelschen Weltchronik in Nürnberg, 2000. - Monasticon belge, VI:261/266.
Prov. Canons regular of Saint-Augustin of Luciëndal, Sint-Truiden (contemp. ms. ownership entry on title: "Liber monasterii vallis sancte lucie [...] in parochia sancti Johannis baptiste").
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