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ROLEWINCK, Werner

Fasciculus temporum

Erhard Ratdolt, Venice, 28 May 1484
Chancery folio (250 x 190 mm.) recent full sheep binding, blind ruled panels, with ribbed spine and blind ruled compartments, rubbed, joints more heavily, recent endpapers. With first leaf cut down and mounted on eighteenth-century paper, pp. (16), (131) with each leaf numbered to 66. With 55 woodcuts (including repeats), diagrams, white-vine initials, rubricated, the woodcuts coloured by a near contemporary hand small worm track on front free endpaper with associated tiny wormhole just into edge of initial on first leaf, this latter extending into the following leaf just touching one letter, f.2 with 45 mm. closed tear barely affecting text on verso, folios 23-33 with short worm track, mostly marginal, but affecting a couple of letters, f.65 with 15 mm. closed tear barely affecting 2 lines of text on verso, a few leaves cropped close by the binder, sometimes into foliation and marginalia. In good condition.
The ‘Fasciculus Temporum’ by Werner Rolewinck (1425-1502) was first published in Cologne, 1474. It was the FIRST HISTORY OF THE WORLD EVER PRINTED, published some twenty years before the better known ‘Nuremberg Chronicle’ by Hartmann Schedel in 1493. It consists of genealogical diagrams with woodcut or metal cut roundels and a chronological history of the world. Much of the history concerns itself with the biblical period but it was brought right up to date in this and later editions. It synthesises two chronological systems, that of Creation in year 1 and that of Christendom. All together there were some thirty-three incunabula editions. Indeed, it is claimed that the ‘Fasciculus’ is only the second printed book by a living author pre-dated only by Robertus Valturius’ ‘De Re Militari’ (1472). The 1474 edition includes the first view of an actual city in a printed book, that of Cologne identified by its unfinished cathedral. Most of the views in this and future editions were in fact imaginary and in some cases were used more than once. This is the fourth Venetian edition, and third by Erhard Ratdolt.

Rolewinck spent more than fifty years of his life in a Carthusian monastery in Cologne. None of the early editions contained a map. It was this same Venice edition by Erhard Ratdolt first published in 1480 which introduced a T-O map. The edition also introduced an imaginary view of ‘Britannia’. The second edition of 1481 also contained a view but printed from a different block. As elsewhere in the book the block was used to illustrate other towns. An early cataloguer remarked ‘off hand I cannot think of an earlier printed book with an English view …’ Although Shirley cites the image of ‘Anglia’ in the ‘Nuremberg Chronicle’ by Hartmann Schedel as the FIRST PRINTED VIEW OF ENGLAND, he does not list this item which is of an earlier date. Cambell (Early Maps) believes that as printer of the T-O map of 1480 and the first illustrated edition of Pomponius Mela in 1482, Ratdolt may indeed have been the mapmaker and therefore also possibly the producer of these views. The text is in 59 lines of Gothic type with red rubrication. The invention of printing is on f.64. Provenance: early marginal annotations. BMC V, 288 (IB. 20536-7); Refer Campbell nos. 91 & 212 & p.221 D11; Goff R 270; Schreiber 5116b; not in Shirley.
Stock number: 9393

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