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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2015
Book of Chronicles)

Book of Chronicles

July 12, 1493: Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles) is published in Latin. The book is also known by its German name, Die Schedelsche Weltchronik (Schedel’s World History) to honor its author. We know it in English as the Nuremberg Chronicles, honoring the city where it was published. It was written my Hartmann Schedel and illustrated by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff. It is one of the best documented incunabulum ever written. An incunable is a printed book, pamphlet, or broadside which came out in Europe before 1501. The arbitrary date for the inclusion was decided upon for no particular reason as books published after 1501 are physically the same. There are around 30,000 books today which fall into the category of incunabulum.

Two merchants in Nuremberg commissioned the Latin version of the Chronicles. They also commissioned George Alt to translate the work into German and that work was completed soon after the Latin version appeared. Both books were printed by Anton Koberger. There were a number of contracts issued between the patrons and the various people involved in creating the books and they have been collected and bound together into their own book which is stored in the Nuremberg City Archives. The first contract was entered into in December 1491 and it was with the illustrators who were in charge of design layout, production of the woodcuts used for printing, and even this long ago – guard against piracy. The next contract was with the printers and the patrons were contracted to advance 1,000 gulden to buy supplies for printing and cover early distribution costs.

Schedel was a doctor, humanist, and avid book collector. His personal library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books. He used passages from classical and medieval works from his own library when writing Chronicle. The book itself is an illustrated history which studied the tale of humanity as it was described in the Bible. It also includes histories of some important Western cities. About 90% of the text is pieced together from works by other authors in the humanities, sciences, philosophy, and theology. Only about 10% of the work is Schedel’s original work. He borrowed most from Supplementum Chronicarum, a book written by Jacob Philip Foresti from Bergamo. The Augustinian monk’s work was first printed in 1483 as a supplement to the universal chronicle and it was several volumes long.

There were about 1,400 to 1,500 editions printed in Latin and about 700 to 1,000 versions printed in German. In 1509, a document showed that 539 Latin versions and 60 German version were not sold. About 400 Latin and 300 German version have survived intact into our time. Some of the books have been colored with varying degrees of success. Some of the coloring was added much later and some copies of the books were broken up and sold for individual page sales as prints or hand colored watercolors.

The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. – Ray Bradbury

It is much simpler to buy books than to read them and easier to read them than to absorb their contents. – William Osler

All the historical books which contain no lies are extremely tedious. – Anatole France

What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbors, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all. – Voltaire

Also on this day: Magic Screen – In 1960, Etch-A-Sketch arrived in stores.
Miners – In 1917, the Bisbee Deportation took place.
Money Issues – In 1933, the US passed her first minimum wage law.
Whoops – In 1979, Disco Demolition Night was a fiasco.
Moors Murders – In 1963, Pauline Reade was killed.


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