Beloit College - Nuremberg Chronicle
 - A Pirated Copy?

Click to EnlargeIn the town of Augsburg, near Nuremberg, lived a very clever publisher named Johann Schönsperger (c. 1455-before 1521), who specialized in 'reprints.' Since copyright laws did not yet exist, it is perhaps inappropriate to speak of Schönsperger's versions of the Nuremberg Chronicle as pirated. Nevertheless, three years after Koberger published the Latin and German versions of the Chronicle, Schönsperger published a German version with the exact same text and the same number of images. His version, however, was much smaller (only 7 1/2" x 11" versus Koberger's much larger 12" x 16 1/2"), used inferior paper, and was, consequently, far more affordable. Needless to say, it sold extremely well. So well, in fact, that a planned revised edition of the Chronicle by Schreyer and Koberger was scrapped. A year later Schönsperger sought to capture the academic market with his Latin version. And in 1500, because the German reprint of 1496 had such excellent sales, Schönsperger produced a second edition of the German version.

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These two pages, Koberger's 1493 on the left (folio CCXXXVIr) and Schönsperger's 1497 on the right (folio CCLXIIIIv), share the same text, though Schönsperger's version employs a smaller typeface, more numerous abbreviations, and even makes typographical corrections to the earlier version's sometimes sloppy printing (on this page note in the detail below that the upside-down 'n' in Koberger's 'Coucilium' has been corrected in Schönsperger's version.).

A closer look at the illustration of the Council of Pisa reveals that Schönsperger has kept the original graphic design of Koberger's woodcut, but, constrained by space, has simplified it by reducing the number of individuals in the scene.

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About thus Book
What's in a Name?
Medieval World Histories
Patrons and Publishers
- Artists
- Printer
- Latin and German Editions
- A Pirated Copy?
- A Guided Tour of the Nuremberg Chronicle
- Beloit's Copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle

Annotated Bibliography

Book Contents
English Translation
Technical Details


[Morse Library]

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