The National Széchényi Library celebrates the 550th anniversary of the publication of the first book printed in Hungary
On 5 June 1473, András Hess completed the printing of the Chronica Hungarorum in Buda. The first book to be printed in Hungary attracted the attention of bibliophiles of later centuries, not only for its early appearance but also for its content. We know of no example of a country’s printing history beginning with the publication of a people’s history.
Of the presumably two hundred or two hundred and fifty volumes, only ten have survived worldwide, two of which are preserved in Hungary, in the National Széchényi Library and the ELTE University Library.
To mark the 550th anniversary of the printing of the Hungarian books, the NSZL has republished the Latin translation of the copy in its collection, together with a revised Hungarian translation, a comprehensive study of the history of the work and a detailed English-language introduction. The facsimile was unveiled on 27 May 2023 at the National Library.
The Buda Chronicle is among others the story about Hungarians who once lived in the same country but have now drifted beyond its borders. They are also in the stories of the book, so the publication of the facsimile edition is a tribute to them and a deepening of the national memory.
Both in the preparation and in the choice of materials, we have endeavoured to recreate as closely as possible the experience of the original volume. The texture and thickness of the paper used for the textblock is exactly the same as the original print. All 550 copies were produced in the same quality, but with two different covers. In both cases, the covers were made from high quality recycled leather from the Wintan company.
The 350 bibliophile copies were machine-bound with gold embossing on the covers using the letters of Andreas Hess. This and the accompanying volume comes in a fine wooden slipcase.
The 200 collector’s copies are hand-bound in wooden boards, the front and back covers are blind embossed using an engraving from a contemporary cover. The facsimile comes in a velvet-lined lacquered wooden box featuring a personalised copper plate, and with an accompanying volume and a bottle of six-puttonyos Tokaj aszú by Grand Tokaj Zrt.
The commemorative edition can be ordered from the National Széchényi Library (https://chronica.oszk.hu/order/).