SCHEDEL, Hartmann (1440-1514). Liber Chronicarum. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493.
The first edition of the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century; this copy finely colored and illuminated by an early hand. The artist responsible for its superb coloring worked with a rich and vibrant palette to produce a copy of exceptional beauty, surpassing many others colored by Nuremberg shops. Especially arresting are the deep black grounds setting off gold and colors to striking effect.
The Nuremberg Chronicle is celebrated for its fine and numerous woodcut illustrations, to which Albrecht Dürer is believed to have contributed (see Wilson, The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle, Amsterdam: 1976). It also includes two important double-page maps: a fine world map based on Mela's Cosmographia of 1482 (see Shirley 19), 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 Nicolas of Cusa's Eichstätt map, with which it is thought to share a common manuscript source of c.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 (Campbell, The Earliest Printed Maps, 1472-1500, 1987).
The publication history of the Nuremberg Chronicle is perhaps the best documented of any book printed of that period: the contracts between Schedel and his partners Schreyer and Kammermaister, and between Schedel and the artists, all survive in the Nuremberg Stadtsbibliothek, as do detailed manuscript exemplars of both the Latin and the German editions. The two editions were planned simultaneously, but the German was published five months after this Latin edition. HC *14508; BMC II, 437 (IC. 7451-3); Polain(B) 3469; CIBN S-161; BSB-Ink. S-195; Bod-Inc. S-108; Schreiber 5203; Goff S-307.
Imperial folio (415 x 295mm). 326 leaves (of 328, without the final two blanks). Woodcut title, c.1809 woodcut illustrations printed from 645 blocks [S.C. Cockrell's count; Some German Woodcuts of the Fifteenth Century, Kelmscott Press: 1897, pp.35-6] by Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and their workshop, including Albrecht Dürer, FULLY COLORED AND HEIGHTENED WITH GOLD BY AN EARLY HAND. Text opens with a large puzzle initial with staves of red and blue and part-filled with gold, with red pen work flourishing; manuscript initial opening the table in red, blue and gold; the other initials in the table in red; title with touches of red; red paragraph marks and capital strokes (title neatly strengthened in the inside margin; an early repair in f. CLIX; occasional light marginal dampstain and light soiling; occasional light browning; map of Europe neatly repaired in the inside margin and with light marginal wear and two small wormholes). 16th century German blind-tooled pigskin over wooden boards, brass catches and clasps; brass corner pieces and central bosses probably added at an early date (spine caps repaired; lower board with two small patched areas; board edges rubbed and with small repairs; metalwork with some nails replaced; minor worming).
Provenance: two or more 16th-century readers (partially deleted inscription on the title, dated Ingolstadt) – Matthias Ottlinus, pastor in Ettlereid – Balthazar Schreivogel (fl.1570s, professor of poetry at the Jesuit College, Munich; manuscript inscription dated 15 October 1563 recording the purchase of this book from Ottlinus; inscription on the first leaf of the table) – manuscript date of 1565 below the colophon – 'In purificatione BMV [i.e. 2 February] me fecit Anno 1596', inscription in the gutter of the last leaf – inscriptions on the front free endpaper; light marginalia throughout – Johannes Gregorius Hanseus (presentation inscription dated 10 November 1603 to:) – Johannes Schmidt.