(Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493). 450 x 310 mm. (17 5/8 x 12 1/8"). 20 p.l., 299,  leaves (without the final blank). Single column, 64 lines and headline in a clean gothic type. FIRST EDITION.
Impressive 18th century brick red morocco, gilt, cover with supra-libros of Philippe II, Duc d'Orléans, raised bands, spine densely gilt in compartments with central oval containing interlocked initials "PP" surmounted by a coronet, gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, all edges gilt With 1,809 woodcut illustrations from 645 blocks (Sydney Cockerell's count) by Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, and their workshop, including the young Albrecht Dürer; the illustrations include 29 double-page town views, eight full-page cuts, and double-page maps of the World [Shirley 19] and of Europe by Hieronymus Münzer after Nicolas Khrypffs. Front pastedown with bookplate and library label of William G. Mather and monogram bookplate of George John Warren, 5th Baron Vernon. Goff S-307; BMC II, 437. Joints and extremities a bit rubbed (leather missing from a few places where the bands meet the covers), front hinge cracked (but a cosmetic, not a structural problem, with the board firmly attached), minor staining and chafing to covers, but the stately royal binding entirely solid and very beautiful despite its flaws. Title page cut round and mounted (without loss), the other (18) preliminary leaves renewed at inner margin and strengthened at upper outer corner (a few of these leaves with marginal reinforcement elsewhere), the text never touched in any case, occasional small stains or thumbing, four leaves with light three-inch dampstain at the top, touching text, otherwise a very fine wide-margined copy, the text extremely smooth, clean, and fresh and generally showing few signs of use.
This is a handsome copy, with royal provenance, of the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century, issued by the most successful German printer of the era. A history of the world from the biblical creation to the late 15th century, the "Chronicle" was written in Latin by physician, humanist scholar, and book collector Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514), who drew heavily on works of ancient and Medieval history from his extensive personal collection. (Schedel's library in 1498 contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books.) Schedel's chronicle was by far the most richly illustrated and technically demanding work to be printed in the 15th century. Its planning took five years and the printing took 20 months. The "Chronicle" is also one of the best-documented incunables, as the contracts between the printer, his financial backers, and the artists have survived in the Nuremberg city archive. Merchants Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister funded the project, advancing 1,000 gulden for the production and distribution of the book; artists Wolgemut and Pleydenwurff agreed to do the woodcuts and layout; and Koberger contracted to print and distribute it. Koberger (ca. 1440-1513) established the first printing shop in Nuremberg in 1470, and steadily grew and expanded the business, eventually operating 24 presses and employing 100 workers. He acquired paper mills to supply his presses, and sent agents to booksellers in the major cities of Europe, establishing a network for distribution. Koberger was the godfather of Albrecht Dürer, who was apprenticed to the illustrator Wolgemut at the time production on the "Chronicle" began, and who would have worked on the illustrations here. These include biblical scenes, portraits of kings, queens, popes, and generals, and topographical views of a number of cities in Europe and the Holy Land. Some 116 places were identified by name, but only about a quarter of these towns and cities resembled their real appearance, the rest being almost entirely imaginary. Koberger issued a broadside advertising the forthcoming "Chronicle" that emphasized its innovative and lavish illustrations, promising "so great a Delight in reading it that you will think you are not Reading a Series of Stories, but Looking at them with your own Eyes. . . . When you look upon all these Acts, Deeds, and Wise Sayings you will think them Alive." The persisting fascination of these pictures means that copies of the "Chronicle" generally bear signs of avid use, and copies as clean and fresh as the present one are hard to come by. Our copy has graced the libraries of British carpet manufacturer Michael Tomkinson (1841-1921) and American industrialist William G. Mather (1857-1951). The arms on the cover are those of Philippe II (1674-1723), Duke of Orleans, nephew of Louis XIV and regent of France during the minority of Louis XV. (CBJ1725)
Add to Cart Price: $85,000.00
PJP Catalog: CA18BF.058