Dictionary.com

Imagine this: your beloved great uncle bequeaths to you an old book; so old that it is literally coming apart at the seams. You tuck away the tattered tome in the attic, where it will stay for decades. One day you decide to unearth the inherited manuscript and have it appraised. To your astonishment, your great uncle left you a highly coveted artifact that dates back to the 15th century. This biblio-fairy tale turned into a true story for one Sandy, Utah resident.

The discovery of the partial copy of the 500-year-old Nuremberg Chronicle left antique book dealer, Ken Sanders, flabbergasted. “You don’t expect to see one of the oldest printed books pop up in Sandy, Utah” Sanders said. It’s a long journey indeed; one that begins in Nuremberg, Germany.

Originally published in Latin in July of 1493 and referred to by Latin scholars as the Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles), the text was translated into German five months later and called the Nuremberg Chronicle – a reference to the city in which it was published.  To honor its author, Hartmann Schedel, German speakers refer to the text as Die Schedelshe Weltchronic or Schedel’s World History. The pages describe a version of human history segmented into seven chapters or “ages,” beginning with the Biblical Creation and ending at the Last Judgment.

The only chronicles one hears about these days generally relate to the fictional Narnia, but these texts constitute one of the earliest and most important genres in the history of written language. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is one of the first known English language texts. Part almanac, part history, chronicles are typically comprehensive and idiosyncratic. In contrast to a history, which prioritizes events according to an author’s point of view, the chronicle theoretically catalogues all events in particular time period.

The Nuremberg Chronicle is considered one of the most perfectly executed examples of early printing. The book is one of the first to successfully combine text with woodcut illustrations, 1,089 in all, bathed in watercolor.

So what’s the going rate for a find such as this? According to San Francisco-based antiquities book dealer, John Windle, a mint condition copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle could fetch up to $1 million at auction. “Because of this book’s tattered state,” Windle said, “It’s likely worth less than $50,000.” Nonetheless, for an avuncular gift, not too shabby.

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49 Comments

  1. rainfalls -  May 7, 2011 - 4:18 pm

    well, our family history, of course ;-)

    Reply
  2. rainfalls -  May 7, 2011 - 4:17 pm

    hope I have a great uncle like that and bequeaths me with a family history

    Reply
  3. EightYearOldWormedBook Ü -  May 6, 2011 - 5:21 am

    Jame: wag nyo na po akong pansinin kuya Jame…

    Reply
  4. Mindfield -  May 5, 2011 - 12:57 pm

    The story of how it got to the attic in Utah would be fascinating.

    Reply
  5. Jay -  May 5, 2011 - 12:55 pm

    What!!! No one touting god and their own personal beliefs on this one? Amazing! There are books that are ancient in comparison to this one. It is one of the first PRINTED books, not the first written. ex. Egyptian Book of the Dead

    Reply
  6. EightYearOldWormedBook Ü -  May 5, 2011 - 6:51 am

    @Cyberquill: hahhahah… Love it. Like it…

    Reply
  7. jame -  May 4, 2011 - 10:09 pm

    @ EightYearOldWormedBook : how’d i been ” mayabang” hUh ???
    @ Cyberquill : yEah.. iF onLy Lady gaga authograped it.. hahaha !!!
    for me the contents of that book is sooooo booooring !!!! what else book have u found in your attic huh ??? is there any more interesting ???? ahaha !!!!

    Reply
  8. Cyberquill -  May 4, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    Perhaps if Lady Gaga autographed it, it would be worth $1 million despite its tattered condition.

    Reply
  9. IRON TURTLE -  May 4, 2011 - 4:48 pm

    IRON TURTLE SAYS YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME THIS IS LAME. WHAT ABOUT GLOWING PORK CHOPS???

    Reply
  10. not your guy -  May 4, 2011 - 4:45 pm

    I don’t think that’s very impressive. ju
    st
    very boring………………………….

    Reply
  11. Jan -  May 4, 2011 - 1:57 pm

    I thought Colin’s comment was funny.

    Reply
  12. !@#$%^&* -  May 4, 2011 - 1:16 pm

    if i was gonna buy a book that expensive, i would at least made it english.=D

    Reply
  13. JAFO -  May 4, 2011 - 12:27 pm

    I have a copy of Superfudge with the cover ripped off. Email me with offers.

    Reply
  14. EightYearOldWormedBook Ü -  May 4, 2011 - 9:56 am

    @Rickedy Rick: sigh*
    @thatguy: arg!
    @jame: Yabang! hmp!

    Reply
  15. Rickedy Rick -  May 4, 2011 - 6:53 am

    I have a Japanese book (translated into English) predicting Japan’s role in WW2 that was written in 1930. Email me with offers.

    Reply
  16. jame -  May 3, 2011 - 8:46 pm

    even i can afford to buy that book, i would’nt but it. i’ll just waste my money. that book was translated into german. duh ! i can’t understand that language ! buti sana if translated in tagalog ! hahaha !!! just kidding !

    so where’s the book ??? did the founder sell it ??? =D

    Reply
  17. DRF -  May 3, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    Wow, cool! Also, that question mark should be outside the quotation marks.

    Reply
  18. thatguy -  May 3, 2011 - 4:12 pm

    I’m sure that would burn pretty nicely.

    Reply
  19. Judy -  May 3, 2011 - 3:53 pm

    A bunch of tough critics.

    Reply
  20. Consilium -  May 3, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    Woah…priceless or not, finding a 500-year old book your great uncle gave you in your attic would be pretty awesome. Though, yeah, there is a pretty big difference between ‘priceless,’ ‘one million dollars,’ and ‘fifty thousand dollars.’ Seriously, which one is it?

    Reply
  21. Jeannette Warnert -  May 3, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    How did the uncle get the book? Stolen during wartime? Who is the rightful owner? Perhaps it should be returned to Germany.

    Reply
  22. William -  May 3, 2011 - 1:24 pm

    Because I don’t have any money?

    Reply
  23. Razimus -  May 3, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    if you have ever seen the movie the 9th gate starring johnny depp, the expert antique book bounty hunter, you would know book dealers often rip off people who want to get rid of priceless books, their values are often undervalued

    Reply
  24. Carlitos -  May 3, 2011 - 11:29 am

    Funny to me that 3/5ths of the world can’t afford to eat yet some pay $50,000 for a book. Yes; it should go to a museum. And yes; it should be digitally copied and made freely available on the internet.

    Reply
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