Guy Marchant's books about La Danse Macabre are famous, partly because of their big and handsome woodcuts. But the woodcuts that were published in the same period by Antoine Vérard are just as handsome, and this is not so strange. Both series were produced by the same man, Pierre le Rouge, and it is difficult to prefer either one to the other.
It is also hard to tell, which is the older version. The colophon in Guy Marchant's first edition states that it was printed 28th September 1485. In contrast the last lines of the colophon in Gallica's copy of Vérard (see external link) have been erased so all we can read is that it was printed in Paris: »Cy finist la dance Macabre historiee et augmentee De plusieurs nouueaux personnages et beaux dits. Et les trois mors & trois Vifs ensemble nouuellement ainsi composee et imprimee a paris [… … …]«.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France simply writes "around 1500", while Henri Monceaux (see external link) estimates the year to be 1485. The latter guess is based on the fact that Vérard doesn't have any of those characters that Marchant had added in his 1486-edition, like for instance the four musicians, legate and duke.
Even though the woodcuts were created by the same man and reproduce the same mural on the cemetery wall in St. Innocents, they are not identical. This is also true for the structure of the images, where Vérard's images feature a vertical column in the middle of each scene. This column doesn't really separate the couples since the cadaver on the right side almost constantly reaches out to the dancer on the left (image in the top, left corner).
The content is very much like that of Marchant's books (which was also stated in the colophon): The 30 dancers from the cemetery wall in St. Innocents with an authority at the beginning and the end. The final authority has an extra verse, »Bon y fait penser soir et main«, which does not appear in the old manuscripts, and which Guy Marchant didn't feature before the 1486-edition.
Then comes the legend of the three living and three dead (this must be the »plusieurs nouueaux personnages« that were mentioned in the colophon). Thereupon a ballad with 3 × 16 + 5 lines and the refrain: »Homme deffait et a perdicion«, and finally a Latin poem of 5 lines, which is attributed to Jean de Rochechouart, and which praises the art of printing (this then must be the promised »beaux dits«). Finally comes (the remains of) the colophon that we have already seen.
The publication to right is different. It consists of a frontispiece with the French armour and 5 pages. The pages are quite large, 56 × 39 cm, so the 5 pages are sufficient for the authority, the thirty dancers, the dead king, the three living and the three dead. There is no colophon.