incunabula

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incunabula

(ĭn'kyo͝onăb`yo͝olə), plural of

incunabulum

[Late Lat.,=cradle (books); i.e., books of the cradle days of printing], books printed in the 15th cent. The known incunabula represent about 40,000 editions. The books include products of more than 1,000 presses, including such famous printers as Gutenberg, Jenson, Caxton, and Aldus Manutius and give evidence as to the development of typography in its formative period. These books were generally large quarto size, bound in calf over boards of wood, decorated with red initials (rubricated) and ornamental borders, and carrying a colophoncolophon
[Gr.,=finishing stroke]. Before the use of printing in Western Europe a manuscript often ended with a statement about the author, the scribe, or the illuminator.
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 but no title page. Notable European collections of incunabula are in Paris, London (British Museum), Oxford (Bodleian Library), Vienna, Rome, Milan, Brussels, and The Hague. Notable American collections are in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress), New York City (Morgan Library and others), Providence (John Carter Brown Library and Annmary Brown Memorial), San Marino, Calif. (Henry E. Huntington Library), and in the libraries of Harvard and Yale Univ. For an introduction to incunabula and a guide to further study, see Margaret B. Stillwell, Incunabula and Americana 1450–1800 (2d ed. 1961).

Incunabula

 

the earliest printed books, prepared from typesetting forms prior to 1501. In external appearance they resemble manuscript books. The type is most commonly Gothic; there are no indentations in incunabula. Their editions usually numbered from 100 to 300 copies. About 40,000 different editions were published; nearly one-half million copies are in existence. There are no incunabula of Russian origin, since the first printed books appeared in Russia only in the middle of the 16th century. The largest collections of incunabula in the USSR are in the Lenin State Library, the M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library, and the Library of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.