SCHEDEL, Hartmann (1440-1514). Liber chronicarum. Nuremberg; Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493.
Imperial 2o (460 x 310 mm). Collation: [1-26 38; 46 5-74 8-116 122 134 14-166 172 18-196 20-254 26-296 302 316 324 33-356 362 374 38-616 xylographic title, blank, 1/2r index; Creation-Ultimate Age of the World, 54/6v blank, Sarmatian supplement, 55/5v verse on the exploits of Maximilian, 55/6 blank, supplements to the Sixth Age and description of Europe, 61/3v-4r map of Germany, 61/4v colophon, 61/5-6 blank). 328 leaves, ff. CCLVIIII-CCLXI left blank except for printed headlines for readers' manuscript supplements. 64 lines and headline, table and parts of text double column. Types: 9:165G (headings), 15:110bG (text). 1809 woodcut illustrations from 645 blocks (Cockerell's count) by Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and their workshop, including the young Albrecht Dürer; the illustrations include 29 double-page town views, 8 full-page cuts and double-page maps of the World [Shirley 19] and of Europe by Hieronymus Münzer after Nicolas Khrypffs. 2- and 3-line printed Lombard initials. 7- to 14-line initial spaces. Unrubricated. (Fore-margin ofstrengthened, 2 small wormholes at end, some browning, title reattached, one marginal repaired tear.) Mid 16th-century blind-tooled calf over wooden boards, probably an Antwerp binding, sides panelled with single hunting scene roll repeated 5 times, two brass fore-edge clasps (leather renewed) fastening on lower cover, brass edge strips at corners, blue edges (rebacked at an early date, worn, front joint split).
Provenance: Presbyter Vacuthaus(?), who purchased the volume for 17 florins at the Antwerp office of Johannes Gymnicus: title inscription erased (cf. Rouzet, p. 84 on the Gymnich family of booksellers and printers) -- early annotations in two hands -- Estelle Doheny: booklabel; sale Christie's, 22 October 1987, lot 56 (to Lathrop Harper).
FIRST EDITION of the most richly illustrated book of the 15th century. The publication history of the Nuremberg Chronicle is perhaps the best documented of any book printed in the 15th century, owing to the survival of the contract between Koberger and his financial partners Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, the contract between Koberger and the artists, and the manuscript exemplars of both the Latin and German editions, all now preserved in the Nuremberg Stadtbibliothek. The Latin and German editions were planned simultaneously, both using the same woodcuts with slightly different placement and each with a print-run of about 2000 copies; the Latin edition preceded the German by about 5 months. Although the publication was an instant success and engendered several pirated editions, a number of copies of the original editions remained unsold in the hands of booksellers across Europe well into the 16th century. The present copy, having been purchased at Antwerp from the bookseller Johannes Gymnicus, appears to have been one of these.
Albrecht Dürer, godson of Koberger, was apprenticed to Wolgemut from 1486-89, exactly during the period Wolgemut's shop was busy creating the woodcuts for this volume. For Cockerell's analysis of a copy owned by William Morris, and his now traditional count of the woodcuts, cf. P. Needham, William Morris and the art of the book (1976).
FINE CONDITION. HC 14508*; BMC II, 437 (IC. 7451-3); CIBN S-161; Schreiber 5203; Goff S-307.