The Nuremberg Chronicle is the name given to Dr. Hartmann Schedel's (1440-1515) masterwork of 15th century printing, Liber Chronicarum, a history of the world from the creation until 1493. The first edition of The Chronicle, was printed in Nuremberg, Germany, by Anton Koberger, in Latin, and was completed on 12 July 1493. A German edition, Das Buch der Croniken und Geschicheten, was completed in December of that year. Several later, unauthorized editions were printed, the first in 1497.

The Chronicle is one of the most impressive books printed in the 15th century. It is a massive book, about 29 x 43 cm, 652 pages, with 1809 printed images, from 645 wood blocks. The woodcut prints were done by the best artists of the time, Michael Wolgemut, Wilhem Pleydenwurff, and probably Albrecht Durer, who was an apprentice, working in the shop of Wolgemut at the time.

The Nuremberg Chronicle is, to contemporary eyes, a curious view of history. It combines Biblilcal history, myth, and recorded history, illustrating all with massive woodcuts. Geneologys are given, with full page diagrams showing lineages. Half and full page woodcuts provide maps or illustrations of cities. Kings, Popes, and other important individuals have small woodcut portraits accompanying the text describing them.

Even today, The Chronicle fulfills the intended purpose - to show to the rest of Europe that Nuremberg was the center of printing at the time. Gutenberg printed his Bible in Nuremberg, in 1455 - from there printing spread to the rest of Europe. Thirty-eight years later, Nuremberg was still the center of printing in Europe. The Nuremberg Chronicle illustrates the quality that a printer in that city was capable of.

The Chronicle remains an important book. Several facsimile editions were printed in the 20th century, and many libraries have copies of the original. A copy of the German edition might presently sell for $65,000, the Latin edition, considerably more. Individual leaves that have only small woodcuts can be found for as little as $50 - these show up on eBay on a regular basis. Fancier leaves, like a two page image of a city, easily sell for $5,000 and more.


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