City Views, Greece, Athens, Schedel

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"Athene vel minerva" A fictional view of Athens

Woodcut. This is a veritablke rarIty

From the pirate edition of the cronicle by Johann Schoensperger. Augsburg, 1496

The "Nuremberg Cronicle" by Hartmann Schedel was published in 1493.

Book printer Johann Schoensperger (1455-1521) in Augsburg saw the immediate success of this important incunabila book and printed without permission a pirate edition of the work. He chose a smaller size, and since he did not own and could not use the existing woodblocks of Nuremberg, he had to have new blocks cut. Hartmann Schedel and publisher Anton Koberger, of course, learned that Schoensperger was trying to deceit them and sued him. The following law suit went down in history as the first copyright law suit ever.

Schoensperger had finished the book in 1496, but lost the law suit the juidicial verdict forbade him to sell the books. Almost the entire edition was destroyed. An estimated 200 copies escaped the scrubbing and survived.

The here offered woodcut stems from one of these few copies and is therefore a very rare specimen.

Verso: Portraits of historical celebrities. Language Latin.

Very good condition

Sheet size 30 x 20.5 cm (11.8 x 8.1")


The Nuremberg Chronicle, Nuremberg 1493


In May of 1493 appeared in the Latin language one of the earliest voluminous books, fully illustrated with 1809 woodcuts printed from 645 woodblocks: The Nuremberg Chronicle.

The story of this book is a story of superlatives. Hartmann Schedel, a medical doctor in Nuremberg who owned the most important private collection of books in all of Europe was the author. His library made the writing of this book possible. The writing and production of this book was teamwork. Among the more famous cooperators were Wilhelm Pleydenwurff and the painter and expert woodcutter Michael Wolgemut (1434-1519) who became the first noted book illustrator. His most famous apprentice up to 1489 was Albrecht Dürer who is supposedly contributed two woodcuts to the Chronicle. Poet Konrad Celtis contributed the German text which was published in December of the same year.

Sebald Schreyer (1446-1520), a wealthy merchant in Nuremberg, financed the enduring and long lasting preparations which went into the production of this book which is a "History of the World" from Genesis to the date of printing. The double page size woodcuts of city views are, with the exception of Lübeck, the first ever printed views. Large sized and sometimes in bold, bright hand coloring they are considered the crowns of city view collections.

Columbus had already "discovered" America when the Schedel Chronicle appeared on the book market. But no news of this stunning discovery had reached the editors in time to be included in this remarkable book, so that, alas, there is no mention of "The New World" in it. However it remains a fact that the Nuremberg Chronicle is one of the most noted and valuable incunabila.

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