Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Opening up the Nuremberg Chronicle

[Nuremberg Chronicle]
A hand-coloured 1493 edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle is now part of the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection. A lecture on the book on Wednesday, Oct. 10 is open to the public. (Supplied Photo)

A new course featuring one of Queen’s University Library’s newest acquisitions – a hand-coloured 1493 edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle that is now part of the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection – is opening its doors to the public for an upcoming class.

Members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities are invited to join professors Sharday Mosurinjohn and Richard Ascough (Queen’s School of Religion) and their students for a lecture in Religion and Art (RELS 345) on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 11:30 am at the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections in Douglas Library. The event, and the Nuremberg Chronicle, will be introduced by Principal Daniel Woolf.

In their remarks, Dr. Ascough and Dr. Mosurinjohn will explore multiple facets of the Nuremberg Chronicle, known as one of the most important and extensively illustrated books of the 15th century.

For 15th century readers it was a chronicon – a history – made of text and image. As an artefact, the book embodies an important story, one of both the fracturing of Europe along socio-political and religious lines and its expansion through trade and exploration – aspects of the globalization we see today.

Yet another story is that of the book itself, which has been around the world and in the hands of many owners and readers in its 500-year lifetime. The Queen’s copy is a stunningly beautiful volume in Latin printed by Anton Koberger on July 12, 1493 and hand-coloured in 1521 by its one-time owner Johann Kruyshaar of Lippstadt (1484-1555), better known as Joannes Cincinnius, a Westphalian humanist, author and scholar of considerable significance. It is a large first edition folio containing 1,809 woodcuts, ranging in size from small medallion portraits to large double-page maps. Joannes Cincinnius’ marginal notes are found intermittently throughout the text.

While there are more than 1,240 extant copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle in Latin and 1,580 of it in German, not all are hand-coloured and of those many are not signed or dated. Joannes Cincinnius’ signature and annotations make this copy unique. 

Now, residing in a collection that is part of a vast network of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, this book is not only treasured and protected but available for study as artefact, literature, and visual art. Indeed, the images of European cities, maps, portraits, and other illustrations, plus the graphic designs and printing, have made this book famous.

“We’re delighted that our students have access to this inspiring book, and that we’re able to draw upon it in our course to connect ideas across disciplines and cultures,” says Dr. Mosurinjohn.

The Nuremberg Chronicle was acquired thanks to a generous donation from renowned philanthropist Seymour Schulich. It is one of the recent additions to the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection established by Mr. Schulich and Principal Daniel Woolf in 2016. The Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection combines more than 400 volumes from their personal collections. Mr. Schulich has also provided funds to enable additional acquisitions and exhibits, on site and online, with a goal of building and sharing one of Canada’s finest English rare book collections.

RSVP online to attend the lecture.

Learn more about the Nuremberg Chronicle at the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection website.