Description

    A Very Tall Copy in a Near Contemporary German Binding of the First Edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle

    Hartmann Schedel. Liber chronicarum. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493.

    First edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle, preceding the German language edition (23 December 1493) by just over five months. Large folio (18.5625 x 13 inches; 472 x 331 mm). 327 (of 328) leaves ([20], CCXCIX, [1], [2, blank], [5] leaves). Complete with final blank leaves but without the blank leaf following the De Sarmacia. This copy contains the three numbered leaves CCLVIIII, CCLX, and CCLXI, blank except for headlines, and the five additional unnumbered leaves (bound at the end) containing the description of Poland, De Sarmacia regione, and the laudatory verse on Maximilian. Gothic type, sixty-four lines plus headline. Table and parts of the text in double columns. Woodcut title and 1,809 woodcut illustrations, of which 1,164 are repeats, from 645 blocks (Sydney Cockerell's count in Some German Woodcuts of the Fifteenth Century (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1897), pp. 35-36) by Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, and their workshop, including (supposedly) the young Albrecht Dürer, including double-page maps of the world and of Europe. The portrait of Pope Joan ("Johannes Septimus," verso of leaf CLXIX), usually missing, is present and unmutilated. The verso of leaf CCLVII and the recto of leaf CCLVIII are in an early state, with most uppercase A's omitted (Koberger evidently ran out of this sort and printed about a quarter of this form before resupplying it). Two- and three-line pearled Lombard initials, seven- to fourteen-line capital spaces. Four- to eight-line pearled Lombard initials supplied in red in the Table, that on fol. [14] with black tracery. Rubricated through fol. XXXVI and on fols. XLIII and XLIV, in a additional few places. With early hand-coloring to some of the woodcuts.

    Early sixteenth-century German blindstamped pigskin over wooden boards, expertly rebacked with the original spine laid down. One of two clasps. Early leather label on front cover lettered in manuscript in red and black mentioning the names of Ferdinand and Maximilian (Kaiser Ferdinand III and his son Kaiser Maximilian I?) and dated 1534. Title professionally strengthened and with a few repairs at outer margin, lower corner of fol. CCXXV renewed, just touching corner of woodcut on verso, several leaves with marginal tears or repairs, a few corners torn away, fols. XCVIII and XCIX remargined and probably supplied. Occasional staining and browning, marginal dampstaining to a few leaves at the beginning, occasional minor worming in the gutter and additional minor marginal worming at the end. Ink stamp of Ch. Favet and early ink ownership inscription at foot of preliminary leaf [2] and in a few other places in the text, a few early ink marginalia. Overall, a very tall copy in a wonderful near contemporary binding.

    The most extensively illustrated book of the fifteenth century. The artists, Michael Wolgemut, the well-known teacher of Albrecht Dürer, and his stepson, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, are mentioned in the colophon. The woodcuts comprise religious subjects from the Old and New Testament, classical and medieval history, and a large series of city views (including Augsburg, Bamberg, Basel, Cologne, Nuremberg, Rome, Ulm, Vienna), as well as a double-page map of Europe (fols. CCXCIX-[CCC]) and a large Ptolemaic world map (fols. XII-XIII). The text is a year-by-year account of notable events in world history from the creation down 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. The passage relating to the alleged discovery of America in 1483 written by Martin Behaim and Jacobus Canus appears on the verso of leaf CCXC.

    BMC II, p. 437. Fairfax Murray, German, 394. Goff S-307. Hain *14508. Harrisse 13. Polain 3469. Proctor 2084*. Sabin 77523. Schreiber 5203. Updike, Printing Types, I, p. 65.


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    February, 2010
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