Glasgow Incunabula Project Update (28/10/11)

Ten more books are now fully described and indexed on the project website:

Decorated fore-edge of a book that prevoously belonged to the previously owned by the Marqués de Astorga (Sp Coll BD7-d.19)

Decorated fore-edge

We are including some “post-incunables” in the project. Strictly speaking, these are obviously not incunabula at all, so why include any books produced after 1501 in our early printing hall of fame?

These are those books that lack imprints and where the date of printing has, in the past, been assigned to the 15th Century; even if research has now proven them to be 15th century imposters, they have been thought of as incunabula for so long that they have achieved an almost honorary status. And, of course, their details are included in all the great incunabula catalogues and  inventories of the past, so who are we to argue with that? We hope to make their status clear by providing a separate index of post-1500 books.

One such 16th century whippersnapper is the commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences by Guillermus Altissiodorensis. This was produced in Paris in about 1514 by François Regnault, who was active from about 1500 onwards. This book has been dated on the basis of the state of the printer’s device that is included on its title-page.

Of course the cut off date of 1501 for what is/is not an incunable is an arbitrary one (you have to draw the line somewhere!), and most early 16th century books are no less interesting than those printed ten or twenty years prior to them. If anything, they are somewhat more challenging to describe and catalogue than earlier books, since so much bibliographical effort has concentrated on incunabula. I foresee another project in years to come …

The fore-edge of this book has been decorated with two coats of arms and some foliage, and gives the work’s title in manuscript. A label inside identifies its 18th century owner as the Marques de Astorga; there is another Astorga incunable with similar fore-edge decoration described in Oates’ catalogue of incunabula held by the University of Cambridge (no. 1942). According to Paul Needham’s IPI, the Astorga library was sold in 1826; parts of it were acquired by the book collector Richard Heber (1774–1833), who had first choice, and a large portion by the National Library of Scotland. Our book came to the University of Glasgow as part of the bequest of William Euing in 1874. He had purchased it in 1872 from the London bookseller Thomas Arthur.

Categories: Library, Special Collections

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Interesting! Thanks for this – obviously the Astorga books have been dispersed far and wide!

  2. The University of Iowa Special Collections has an incunable with a fore-edge design displaying the exact same coat of arms. Neat!

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