Rare 500-year-old book pops up in Utah

 A Utah book dealer got the surprise of his career recently while visiting a small museum just south of Salt Lake City.

Ken Sanders, who specializes in rare books, was attending the event as a volunteer, appraising books for museum visitors. At one point during the event, a man pulled a book out of a garbage bag, telling Sanders he had something that was very, very old, according to the Deseret News.

“According to Sanders, the man said, ‘Well this here, I got this, it’s the Nuremberg Chronicles,'” according to the publication. “Sanders exclaimed, ‘What?’ in astonishment because he knew of the book’s lofty historical reputation. ‘And sure enough,’ Sanders said, ‘lo and behold, it was!'”

The paper said that assuming the editon found in Utah is authentic, it was actually printed in 1493, barely 50 years after Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press.

Also called the Nuremberg Chronicle, the tome is an illustrated world history, according to Wikipedia. Its structure follows the story of human history as related in the Bible and it includes the histories of a number of important Western cities.

The book is probably worth at least $25,000, Sanders said, and possibly as much as $100,000 if all the pages are there.

The book is in serious disrepair, typical for books from the 15th century, according to the Deseret News. The binding is so deteriorated that pages are stacked in loose-leaf fashion with many pages out of order.

Sanders,who has not yet determined if the book is complete, said coming across a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle was a unique experience.

“It’s a real thrill and a treat to hold something in your hand that was new when Columbus discovered America and the New World,” he said, adding it’s considered to be one of the world’s first illustrated books printed with movable type.

The book was that era’s equivalent of a history and travel book, the paper reported, adding that for its day, it was exceptionally lavish in its illustrations.

“It has some 1,800 woodcut illustrations in it,” Sanders said. “Every page has an illustration, which is highly unusual for a book of that antiquity.”

The owner has requested anonymity; he told Sanders he inherited the book from an uncle in Pennsylvania.

The owner has tentatively agreed to put it up for sale through Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City. Sanders said he cannot offer it for sale until the book’s authenticity is verified.

(HT: A Blog About History)

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