The first edition of a famous albeit imaginary woodcut view of an English town, one of the first ever printed. From Hartmann Schedel’s ‘Nuremberg Chronicle’ published in Nuremberg in 1493. The book was published at the height of the Renaissance. Schedel was a physician and editor of the text which is a year-by-year account of notable events in world history from the creation down to the year of publication, with special emphasis on ominous and portentous events including the invention of printing. This woodcut along with the nearly 1800 others are the work of Michael Wohlgemut (1434–1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (1460–1494). Wohlgemut is best known to have been the early tutor to Albrecht Durer who was in his workshop at the time of this works production and is generally believed to have contributed to it. The work was printed by Anton Koberger. At the time it was the most profusely illustrated book ever published. This example is from the first edition printed in July 1493 with Latin text, a later issue with German text was published in December of the same year.
Angela Fordham in her article on Town Plans of the British Isles states that the image is believed to be a representation of Dover. However more recent thinking is that it is a generic illustration. The accompanying text describes “The island of England was originally called Albion after certain white mountains which were seen by those steering towards it; but was then named Britain perpetuating the name of a fierce son (Brutus) of Silvius, the last king of the Latins, who overcame the giants inhabiting the island” (Moreland & Bannister). The entire text is translated in Moreland and Bannister. The verso also bears down its side the genealogy of King David. One of two different views depicting England in the work. Provenance: private collection of Rodney Shirley. Fordham (1965). ‘Town Plans of the British Isles’, in ‘Map Collectors’ Circle’ no. 22 p. 3; Moreland & Bannister pp. 22-4 text translation; Shirley (1988). Printed Maps of the British Isles 1650-1750. 6a.(1).