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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

First Edition Nuremberg Chronicle for Auction

DALLAS, TX – When a 1493 first edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle comes up for auction at Heritage’s downtown Dallas headquarters, as part of the Grand Format Rare Books Auction on Oct. 16, bidders will be competing for a monumental work from a period of history that shook the western world.

This early secular history of the world was printed at a time when the Western world’s idea of itself was rapidly expanding. Christopher Columbus had sailed for the Americas only a year before. The printing press was a relatively new invention, and the educated population of Europe was just beginning to experience the power of the printed word and what access to printed materials would mean. The world was no longer flat and the population of Europe gaining in literacy. This book is one of the earliest and most ambitious printed histories of civilization to that time, and it reflects the intellectual quickening in Europe.

“Most people probably don’t realize that printed books from this period even still exist, and that they can be purchased for relatively reasonable prices. A typical belief is that all books of this stature are only to be found in museums and institutional libraries” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage. “A book like this is called an incunable, meaning literally from the infancy of printing, in other words, a book printed in the first 50 years of printing.”

The edition, with its classic gothic type, features more than 1,800 woodcut illustrations by Michael Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff, and their workshop, which purportedly included the young Albrecht Dürer. Included are Biblical images and identified views of famous cities, as well as a series of charts illustrating the Ptolemaic geocentric view of the universe. It was one of the first secular histories of the world ever printed. The Nuremberg Chronicle is generally considered one of the most important illustrated books of the incunable period.

The text is a year-by-year account of notable events in world history from the Creation up to the year of publication, including the invention of printing at Mainz, the exploration of the Atlantic and of Africa. It includes references to the game of chess and to medical curiosities, including what is believed to be the first depiction of Siamese twins. It carries an estimate of $75,000 – $100,000.

“Opportunities to buy such a rare book are few and far between,” Gannon said, “and, considering the weight of the history attached to it, this would be the centerpiece of any collection.”

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