500 Year Old Liber Chronicarum, the First Illustrated Book to be Auctioned

The printed book might be losing its importance with the kindle and tablet becoming more common. We now live in an age where we have to deal with information overload. Today the American President is able to watch a special mission operation taking place thousands of miles away in real time. But just imagine the time when printing technology was in its infancy and it must have been considered a revolutionary step in disseminating information through the printed word and illustration. Liber Chronicarum must be one of the first books to be printed way back in 1493 with hundreds of complex illustrations.

The book must have been a groundbreaking publication in its time. It was definitely the first book to have included so many complex illustrations. The book is coming up for auction very soon and the pre sale estimates are fairly low for something as rare and apparently valuable. Liber Chronicarum was printed in Latin in July 1493 and less than 1,500 copies were made. Over 500 years more than half of them have ceased to exist but about 400 of them are believed to have survived the long passage of time. The same illustrations were used to print the book in German in the month of December of the same year. 300 of the German version of the book are also believed to be in existence today.

The over 500 year old original illustrations are so impressive that many of the books were dismantled, so to say, and the illustrations sold separately as decorative prints. At 250 x 342 mm, the large page size has encouraged a lot of art and antique dealers to dismember the book to make a fast buck. The book is important as it was the original communication innovations. Bonhams who are handling the auction rightly describe it as the most lavishly illustrated printed book of the 15th century. The Bonhams Printed Books and Manuscripts sale will take place in London on June 7.

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