Treasures of the Rare Books and Special Collections Library: Early printed books
ROLEWINCK, Werner. Fasciculus temporum.
Strassburg : Johann Pruss, 1490.
A famous illustrated book of the 15th century and the most popular concise world chronicle of its time, this work is one of the most commonly found of all German incunabula. It is also the earliest chronological world history to be printed. Werner Rolewinck (1425-1502), was a Carthusian monk and prolific author, and this book was the most popular of his numerous writings. The demand for this book was so great that it was translated into German, French and Dutch and appeared in at least 33 editions, in five languages, between 1474 and 1500, making it one of the first "best sellers". These various editions would be amended in various localities to bring them up to date or to add items of local interest or history. The 1474 edition by Arnold Ther Hoernen of Cologne was the first printed book to use pagination, an innovation which was not to generally catch on until much later.
The layout of the book is extrordinarily complex. Some of the typeset pages have up to fourteen different line lengths and the text in parts can be set vertically, or in circles, or even upside down. Woodcuts are interspersed throughout the text with some text being set inside the woodcuts on occasion. These depict genealogical tables, maps of the world and the Holy land and biblical themes such as Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, and Ninevah, views of Rome, Athens, Cologne and Treves, the Adoration of the Magi, Christ the Redeemer etc.
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