Bonhams prepares to auction 'history of the known world' for $49,600

A fine first edition of one of the earliest printed histories, the Nuremberg Chronicle (or Liber chronicarum) of July 1493, is for sale at Bonhams' Printed Books and Manuscripts sale in London on June 7. 

It will carry an estimate of £25,000-30,000 ($49,662).

The most lavishly illustrated printed book of the 15th century, the Nuremberg Chronicle is essentially a history of the known world.  One of the first books to combine text and illustration successfully, it contains over 1800 woodcuts including world and European maps and city views. 

It is one of the most famous and sought after incunables - the technical term for books printed before 1500.

The historic Nuremberg Chronicle (or Liber chronicarum)

Written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel (in Germany, the book is known as Schedel's World History) it was produced in Nuremberg by Michael Wolgemut and published by Anton Koberger. Koberger was the Renaissance equivalent of a publishing tycoon who owned printing presses throughout Europe.

Koberger's godson, Albrecht Dürer, was apprenticed to Wolgemut between 1486 and 1489 when the initial commission was made, and he may well have participated in early work on the designs. Dürer went on to become a noted painter, printmaker, mathematician, engraver, and theorist.

Of the 1,400-1,500 copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle in Latin, around 400 are thought to have survived.  A version in German was produced six months afterwards in December 1493, of which 300 copies are still known to exist.

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