INCUNABULA (15th-Century Printed Book)    

INCUNABULA are early printed books. The term can be used to describe the results of any printing start-up or any first endeavor. It is most commonly applied to the books printed from Johann Gutenberg' s Bible (1454) to 1501. The last date is somewhat arbitrary, and does not represent any event of importance in the history of printing. Another common English term is "fifteeners". Most of the typefaces were either Gothic, or Roman fonts like the Jensen. The majority of incunabula contained Latin texts, and the total number of copies printed is estimated at anywhere between 550,000 (Komission für einem Gesamtkaltaog der Wiegendrucke) and 20 million (L'Apparition du livre). Even extant exemplars are impossible to count, since incunabula were printed in nearly twenty countries, are widely dispersed among public and private owners, are called by several names, and are often counted with along with post-incunabula. Illustrations were accomplished largely with woodcuts, and there were occasionally painted initial letters. .

The incunabula section of the Andy Holt Virtual Library is composed of a home page devoted to the history, features, materials and procedures early printing, a second page containing catalogs and databases, and a third page with links to whole or selected pages of photographic facsimiles consultable online. In all cases, wherever I have chosen to link a digitized book from the last century, certain users may be denied access because their domains are under regional or national copyright restrictions.



Paper (chain-lines and watermarks, etc.)

Printing and Typefaces

Gathering and Foliation


Printers Mark or Device and Colophons

Marginalia and Interlinear Commentary


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