ONE of the earliest examples of a mechanically printed book – a 1493 copy of The Nuremberg Chronicle – is expected to fetch up to £40,000 when it comes up for auction in Edinburgh.

The publication is an account of Christian history from Creation to the 1500s, written in Latin by physician and humanist Hartmann Schedel, and later translated into German.

It has been in the same family since at least the 1860s, and is being auctioned as part of Lyon and Turnbull’s online Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps and Photographs sale on Wednesday, when it is estimated to fetch between £30,000 and 40,000.

The much sought-after work, funded by merchants, Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, is the best illustrated 15th century German book ever produced.

In the 1440s Johannes Gutenberg made printing much faster and cheaper with his invention of the movable-type printing press.

Instead of using individually carved wooden printing blocks for each page, or even writing text by hand, he used movable metal letters, allowing mass production.

The Nuremberg Chronicle was one of the earliest books to benefit from this European printing revolution.

Cathy Marsden, Lyon and Turnbull’s rare books, manuscripts and maps specialist, said: “The advent of the mechanical printing press was rather like the creation of the internet in terms of suddenly making information via the written word much more widely accessible.

“Not only did the publication of The Nuremberg Chronicle play a hugely significant part in the history of printing, it is also a fascinating account of Christian history through the eyes of its author, combined with a vast number of elaborate illustrations.”