The popular Antichrist und die Fünfzehn Zeichen ('Antichrist and the Fifteen Signs of Doomsday') consists of a picture cycle with explanatory text. It relates the life of the Antichrist, a false prophet, whose dubious miracles and untrue teachings form a negative parallel to the life of the Saviour. His defeat is followed by the 15 Zeichen vor dem Jüngsten Gericht. It depicts the Last Judgement in alarming detail in order to kindle the reader's fears and summon them to penitence. The well-balanced woodcuts with dark outlines give the work a direct and pointed expressiveness. This combined tract was treated in all media of the Late Middle Ages: manuscript picture books, blockbooks, and eventually an incunable edition. All blockbook editions are extremely rare.
Both the richly illustrated contents and the technique of production lend a special appeal to blockbooks. The production of blockbooks in general is entirely based on the technique of carving wood: illustrations and text are cut into a wood panel which is then covered with water-based ink and rubbed onto moistened paper by a leather pad or a bonefolder. With this method, however, the leaves could only be impressed on one side, as in the present copy. For the impression of both sides, a press was required. One important advantage of blockbooks was that woodblocks could be stored over a long period, whereas the typeset of a book printed with Gutenberg’s technique had to be broken up after printing in order to be re-used, storage being too expensive. In contrast, blockbooks allowed for new copies to be printed on request – a process comparable to the modern principle of ‘publishing on demand’.