Siamese twins woodcut, 1493 by Albrecht Dürer(?)


 An incunable leaf from the Latin edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle with a

woodcut of Siamese twins by Albrecht Dürer (?).


Verso:  62 lines of text in Antiqua Rotunda typeface printed by letterpress on laid & watermarked rag paper.  Surrounding the text are 10 woodcuts -  the bishops Ratherius, Theodoric, Adeobald, Odo and Hatto (with seven black mice scampering over his mitre, crozier and body), the kings Edgar and Hugh, and S. Dunstan, bishop of Canterbury. Another woodcut is of “Celebrated abbots” (Abbates Insignes), a portrait of a single abbot which does service for a number of abbots briefly mentioned in the text. The final woodcut is of Siamese twins, described in the text as “a miraculous creature, with two heads, the body divided from the navel up. It also had two chests; and when one head ate, the other slept”.  This woodcut is considered by a number of scholars to be the work of the young Albrecht Dürer, an apprentice in the studio of Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff. 


Recto:   62 lines of text and three woodcuts - Otto the Third and the bishops Adalbert and Wolfgang. 


Printer:  Anton Koberger, Nuremberg


Date:  1493


Content:  The leaf is from The Sixth Age of the Chronicle. The main body of the text begins:  Ratherius (Racherius), a bishop of Verona, and formerly a monk, and a highly learned man, wrote on many subjects, and uprooted the so-called Anthropomorphic heresies. Through boorish ignorance those heretics held that God has human attributes, being ignorant of the words of the Lord that the Holy Spirit is an incorporeal God.

Dunstan, bishop of Canterbury, (909-988), English archbishop and son of a noble, was born near Glastonbury. He entered the household of King Aethelstan, but his love of books and of song, and his mechanical skill soon excited the dislike of his kinsfolk at the court. Accused of practicing the black arts, he took refuge with his kinsman, Alphege, bishop of Winchester, whose persuasion, seconded by a serious illness, induced him to become a monk. Dunstan then lived as a hermit near the old church of St. Mary until Aethelstan’s successor, Edmund, recalled him as one of his counselors. His enemies again procured his expulsion; but about 943 Edmund revoked the sentence and made Dunstan abbot of Glastonbury. Under him the abbey became a famous school, monastic life was revived, and St. Peter’s re-erected, and the administration of the realm was largely in the control of Dunstan, who sought to establish royal authority, to conciliate the secular clergy and the laity. In 960, after having been the bishop of London, he became archbishop of Canterbury.


Condition:   This leaf is in very good condition with sharp impressions of the text and woodcuts. There is the expected edge browning and a stain in the bottom margin well away from the text. The text and woodcuts are virtually unblemished. 

The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine. Presented in a museum quality mat, ready for framing.  Please note that packing and postage is invoiced separately.  Within Australia: $27.50.  Overseas: ask for quote.


Notes:  Author: Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514)


Woodcut illustrators: Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (with the assistance of their studio apprentices, including the young Albrecht Dürer).


Publisher and printer: Anton Koberger, 1493, Nuremberg


One of the most famous early illustrated books, this ambitious text chronicles the history of the world, from the Creation to 1493. It is considered to be the first book to successfully integrate illustrations and text. The contents are divided into seven ages:


First age: from Creation to the Deluge

Second age: up to the birth of Abraham

Third age: up to King David

Fourth age: up to the Babylonian captivity

Fifth age: up to the birth of Jesus Christ

Sixth age: up to the present time (i.e. 1493)

Seventh age: outlook on the end of the world and the Last Judgement.


This monumental work is more than simply a fine example of the skills of early printers and illustrators, it also reflects the spirit of its time. While on the one hand it demonstrates the influence of Renaissance humanism, it also shows a society in the process of transformation from medieval to modern and from a scribal culture to a print culture. 


The Chronicle was originally published in Latin in 1493, and a German edition followed later that year. The Latin edition was printed using a typeface known as Antiqua Rotunda, while the German employed Bastarda Schwabacher. 


Scholars estimate that approximately 1400-1500 Latin and 700-1000 German copies were printed. 


References:  Goff S307, ISTC No. is00307000 Incunabula Short Title Catalogue, British Library.


Item No. PSE 065


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