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Printed book from 15th century expected to fetch up to £40,000 at auction

·2-min read
The book, a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, is to go under the hammer at auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull (PA)
The book, a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, is to go under the hammer at auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull (PA)

A mechanically printed book from the 1400s is going under the hammer in Edinburgh

The publication is a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle produced in 1493 – an account of Christian history from Creation to the 1500s – and is expected to fetch between £30,000 and £40,000.

It was written in Latin by physician and humanist, Hartmann Schedel and was later translated into German.

The book, which has been in the same family since at least the 1860s, is being auctioned as part of the Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs sale on Wednesday September 22.

The advent of the mechanical printing press was rather like the creation of the internet in terms of suddenly making information via the written word much more widely accessible

Cathy Marsden, Lyon & Turnbull

The invention of the movable-type printing press in 1440s, by Johannes Gutenberg, made printing much faster and cheaper: instead of using individually carved wooden printing blocks for each page, or even writing text by hand, he used movable metal letters, allowing mass production.

The Nuremberg Chronicle, funded by two merchants, Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, was one of the books to benefit from this European printing revolution.

The auction, run by Lyon and Turnbull, will also be available to join live online.

Cathy Marsden, Lyon & Turnbull’s rare books, manuscripts and maps specialist, said: “It was a delight to see this Latin incunable, a book from the cradle of printing.

“The advent of the mechanical printing press was rather like the creation of the internet in terms of suddenly making information via the written word much more widely accessible.

“Not only did the publication of the Nuremberg Chronicle play a hugely significant part in the history of printing, it is also a fascinating account of Christian history through the eyes of its author, combined with a vast number of elaborate illustrations.”

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