[NUREMBERG CHRONICLE]. SCHEDEL, Hartmann. Liber chronicarum. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 12 July, 1493.
Folio (16 x 11 inches). 327 RUBRICATED leaves (including leaves CCLIX-CCLXI blank, except for foliation and headline, of 328, lacking last blank leaf), 63 lines plus headline, Gothic letter, rubricated capitals, xylographic title-page (small repairs to verso), 645 woodcut illustrations by Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (d. 1494) and Michael Wohlgemut (1434-1519) repeated to a total of 1809, some full-page, others double-page, double page map of the world (Shirley 19) and double-page map of Europe, 5 leaves of "De Sarmacia" bound after folio [CCCII, blank] (top corners renewed to folios CCLXII-end with occasional loss to text, top edges close cropped with occasional loss to headline and foliation, some heavy dampstaining, a few marginal tear crossing the image at folio LXXXVI, map of Florence, lacking the final blank). 16th-century German pigskin over boards, covers decorated with panels of blind roll tools and the supra libros of Sebastian Freitog, brass catches and clasps (a bit rubbed and soiled, lacking central brass bosses and cornerpieces).
Provenance: Supra libros of Sebastian Freitog dated 1581, and ownership inscription on the verso of the title-page dated Lucca Abbey, 1575; inscription of Lucca Convent library on first page of text; early library inscription at the head of the title-page partially obscured; 18th-century penciled ownership inscription at the foot of the title-page partially erased.
"AN ASTONISHING FEAT OF ARTISTRY AND COMMERCIAL NOUS... REGARDED AS A LANDMARK IN BOOK PRODUCTION" (Susannah Helman).
First edition, a German translation was published in December of the same year. The Nuremberg Chronicle is the most widely known, most lavishly illustrated and extensively documented early printed book. It is a history of the known world from the dawn of creation to the date of publication: "in this respect, the Chronicle would appear, at first glance, to follow in the tradition of a conventional structure of human history within the framework of the Bible, in analogy to the six days of creation. A brief Seventh Age follows, reporting the coming of the Antichrist at the end of the world and predicting the Last Judgement. This is followed, somewhat unsystematically, by descriptions of various towns. This narrative pattern conforms with that of the medieval "universal chronicles" written in Latin, as well as with vernacular chronicles. In the known Middle High German chronicles of the world, too, historical events are interwoven with digressions on the subject of natural catastrophes, wars, reports of the founding of cities, etc. Events occurring in other parts of the world are inserted parallel to the biblical stories. Hartmann Schedel chose to place particular emphasis on describing the most important cities of Germany and the Western world. In many cases, we find in the Chronicle the first known illustrations of the cities in question, along with the story of their foundation, the etymology of their names and a painstaking list of facts about the cultural life, economy and trades flourishing there in the period around 1490" (Stephen Fussel, "Introduction" to Taschen edition).
The world map is widely regarded as the work of "Nuremberg physician and humanist Hieronymous Munzer (1437-1508), who also contributed to the book's text. It is clearly , however, a copy of the world map in Erhard Ratdolt's edition of Pomponius Mela's "Cosmography" (1482). Both refer to Portuguese discoveries in the Gulf of Guinea ca 1470" (Susannah Helman for "Mapping our World: Terra Incognita to Australia", National Library of Australia, page 41). Goff S-307; Hain-Cop 14508\*; Klebs 889.1; Oates 1026; Proctor 2084; BMC II, 437. Catalogued by Kate Hunter