(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, boards lightly chafed, front hinge cracked (but board firmly attached). Title page laid down, about two dozen leaves with margins expertly reinforced (not affecting text), occasional small stains or thumbing, four leaves with light three-inch dampstain touching text, otherwise A VERY FINE COPY, clean and crisp with generous margins.
This is a handsome copy of the most extensively illustrated book of the 15th century, from 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.) 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. 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." Nearly every page of the text contains at least one woodcut, and these visual representations of long ago and faraway must have amazed contemporary readers, who did not encounter such art on a daily basis. The 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: ELIST3.033