Item Spotlight - Nuremberg Chronicle
The Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg, 1493), more well known as the Nuremberg Chronicle, was the most extensively illustrated book of the fifteenth century and after the Gutenberg Bible the most celebrated book of the fifteenth century. Two wealthy men of Nuremberg, Sebald Schreyer and Anton Kamermeister, entered into an agreement with the artists Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff "to produce a new book of chronicles, with illustrations, and to share the profits." They hired Hartmann Schedel, city physician of Nuremberg and humanist scholar, to write the text, and Anton Koberger, printer and bookseller, to print the book.
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, and the exploration of Africa and the Atlantic. The woodcuts comprise religious subjects from the Old and New Testament, classical and medieval history, and numerous city views. It has been called "a medieval Chamber of Commerce project," and in its effort to show the world what the wealth and talents of the citizens of Nuremberg could produce, it was just that. The anticipated and actual popularity of the first edition resulted in the printing of 2,000 copies of the first edition, unusually large for the time.
The copy in Special Collections is the first edition, Latin text, printed double column in gothic letter with 64 lines. It features 1,809 woodcuts by the artists including repeats, two Ptolemeic maps of the world, and a woodcut title-page. Our volume is a large 19 3/8 inches by 13 1/4 inches with 328 leaves, the last two blank. The only sign of ownership is the inscription "Ex Bibliotecha M. Johannis Roeseneri," on the lower right hand corner of the recto of the title page. It was Mr. Roeseneri who probably had this copy bound in the pig skin binding over three-eighth inch boards which remains today along with two front cover foredge bosses, the medalliion on the front cover, one working clasp, and the strap of another. This copy was acquired in 1956 or 1957 from H.P. Kraus through Helmuth Lehmann-Haupt.