Glasgow Incunabula Project update (19/4/12)

The latest ten books to be fully indexed on the project website are:

All of the books featured in this batch were printed in Italy, six of them in Venice – undeniably the printing capital of the 15th Century. It has been estimated that Venice was responsible for about an eighth of all the books printed during the incunabula period, producing no fewer than 4,500 editions (totalling some two millions volumes!).

Woodcut illustration with volvelles

An instrument with volvelles, or paper wheels, which can be manipulated to show the motion of the moon. Sp Coll BD7-f.13 (item 1)

Many of Venice’s most famous printers were immigrants, attracted to the great merchant city by the protection and liberty it offered foreign settlers.  None is more renowned than Erhard Ratdoldt, three of whose books are included here. Originally from Germany, he brought new techniques to Venice and produced some of the most beautiful illustrated books of the late 1470s and 1480s.

Pioneering in the use of woodcuts – both for ornamentation in decorative borders and initials, and for practical use in technical and scientific diagrams – Ratdolt produced some remarkable and technically innovative publications. Perhaps most  impressive are those of his books which include moving instruments that still work after more than five hundred years – such as the Calendar (printed in 1482) with volvelles (or paper wheels) that can be manipulated to show the motion of the moon.

Ratdolt eventually returned to Augsburg, taking his woodcut blocks with him, thus dispersing the work of Italian artists north.

Remember that you can use our printer’s index to trace other examples of books printed by Ratdolt, or find other Venetian books (and there are certainly plenty of them) by browsing the A-Z of books by country and town.

Categories: Library, Special Collections

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2 replies

  1. Wonderful resource you have available, Ratdolt has always been an inspiration to me. The Kalendarium is a wonderful piece and this is the first I’ve heard of it.


  1. Glasgow Incunabula Project update (30/11/12) « University of Glasgow Library

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