The Department of Rare Books and Special collections maintains a small collection of incunabula (books printed before 1501) and early printed material.
The incunabula are listed in chronological order; each record includes Goff number, the number assigned in Fredrick Goff’s bibliography, Incunabula in American Libraries. Links to the British Library’s Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue (ISTC) for each volume have also been included.
The majority of materials listed here are codices, however the library’s single leaf from the Gutenberg Bible is also included because of the interest shown in it and of its importance for the history of printed books. The Library has a number of other incunabula leaves (see Pages from the Past and Early Printed Book Leaves).
Bible. O.T. Jeremiah XIII-XIV, 1-19. Latin. Vulgate
[Mainz: Johann Gutenberg & Peter Schoeffer?, 1454 or 1455?]
Z241 .B58 1455
This is a leaf taken from the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed in Europe. The book is printed in Latin and rubricated in alternating red and blue.
Justinus, Marcus Junianus
Historiae Philippicae. 1470
Iustini historici politissimi Epitoma in Trogi Po[m]pei historias
[Rome]: Ulrich Han, [1470?]
PA6445 .J6 1470
The Historiae Philippicae by Gnaeus Pompeius Traogus was an important Roman history that provided thorough information on Greece and the other territories outside Italy. No copies of the book survived, so this summary by Justinus became an important source throughout the Middle Ages.
Caracciolo, Roberto, 1425-1495.
Sermones de adventu, etc.
Ruberti d[e] Licio ex ordine Mino[rum] in theologia peritissimi … P[rae]dicationes a prima d[omi]nica de aduentu quottidie inclusiue vsq[ue] ad quarta[m] …
[Venice : Johann von Köln and Johann Manthen, ca. 1474]
BX1756.C315 S46 1474
Caracciolo was a Franciscan friar and among the most famous Italian preachers of his time, known for the melodrama and spectacle of his sermons. This collection of his sermons has incorporated part of a Latin manuscript on parchment into its binding.
Spiera, Ambrosius de, d. 1454
Quadragesimale de florib’ sapientie
Quadragesimale de floribus sapie[n]tie peroptimu[m] editu[m] [et] compillatu[m]/per egregiu[m] sacre theologie doctore[m] magistrum Ambrosiu[m] Spiera Taruisinu[m]
Venice: Vendelin de Spira Alamanus, 1476
BV4277.S65 Q3 1476
Ambrosius de Spiera was a Servite friar. This collection of sermons lays out the theological thought of different authorities of the church and would eventually go through at least eight editions after this one, which was the first.
[Virorum illustrium uitae ex Plutarcho graeco in latinum uersae solertiq[ue] cura emendatae foeliciter expliciu[n]t]
Venice: Nicolaus Ienson Gallicum, 2 Jan. 1478
PA4373 .V6 1478
Plutarch was a first-century moralist and biographer, most famous for this work presenting Roman and Greek biographies in parallel to one another. This edition was printed by Nicolas Jenson, an early printer in Venice whose typeface designs were much admired by later printers.
Bible. Latin. Vulgate. 1480
Venice: Franciscus de Hailbrun, 1480
The Vulgate Bible was the dominant Latin version of the Bible used in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274.
[Summa Contra Gentiles]
Incipit tabula cap[itu]lo[rum] libri [contra] ge[n]tiles b[ea]ti Thome de Aquino.
Venice : Nicolas Jenson, 1480
BX1749 .T38 1480
The Dominican friar Thomas Aquinas was one of the great Catholic theologians of the Middle Ages. The Summa contra Gentiles was written to explain Christian doctrine to unbelievers. This copy is lavishly rubricated in red and blue.
Eusebius, of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea, ca. 260-ca. 340.
[De evangelica praeparatione. Latin]
Eusebius Pamphili de euangelica praeparatione
[Treviso] : Michael manzolinus parmensis exactissima impressit diligentia Taruisii, Anno humanitatis Christi Mcccclxxx pridie Idus Ianuarias [12 Jan. 1480]
BR65.E75 D448 1480
Eusebius of Caesarea was an early Christian bishop and an extremely prolific apologist, historian, and exegete. This book is a collection of Christian apologetics attempting to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies; a 1497 edition of the work printed by Bernardinus Benalius in Venice is also held by Special Collections.
Declamationes pseudo-Quintilianeae (Maiores)
M. Fabii Quintiliani eloquentissimi Declamationes incipiunt.
[Treviso : Pellegrino de Pasquali and Dionigi Bertocchi, 1482]
PA6649 .D5 1482
This textbook was written for Roman lawyers and presents sample speeches based on fictitious cases. The text was attributed to the first-century Roman rhetorician Quintilian but this is not true and its real author is unknown.
Filelfo, Francesco, 1398-1481
Venice: Joannes Rubeus Vercellensis, 28 Jan 1488
The Italian humanist Filelfo was an important translator of Greek works into Latin during the fifteenth century. This copy of his letters has a fragile binding that offers a glimpse of the sewing work done to put the book together.
Sulpitius Verulanus, Joannes, 15th cent.
Ioãnis Sulpitii Verulani in singulos Pharssaliæ Lucani libros argumenta necnon eiusdem & Omniboni Vincentini in totum volumen cõmentarios.
[Venice]: Simon Bevilaqua, 31 January 1493
PA6478 .A2 1493
This book is a collection of commentaries by the humanist Joannes Sulpitius Verulanus and the canon Vincentus Omnibonus. It highlights the heavy glossation style favored by medieval and early modern scholars.
Schedel, Hartmann, 1440-1514
Registrum huius operis libri cronicarum cu[m] figuris et ymagi[ni]bus ab inicio mu[n]di
Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 12 July 1493
Z241 .S3 1493A
The Nuremberg Chroncile is a universal history that begins with the creation of the world and continued through to the 1490s. It is famous for its lavish woodcuts with over 600 different designs.
Trithemius, Johannes, 1462-1516
Liber de Scriptoribus Ecclesiasticis
[Basel: Johann Amerbach?, 1494]
Johannes Trithemius, abbot of Sponheim, expanded his abbey's library from 48 books to 2,000, which may have contributed to his impulse to write this book, a catalogue of almost 1,000 writers with a listing of their works, some 7,000 items in all. The book mainly includes ecclesiastic writers but also lists secular authors like the Italian poet Dante and the German satirist Sebastian Brant.
Boccaccio, Giovanni, 1313-1375
Genealogiae Joannis Boccatii
Venice: for Octavianus Scotus, 23 Feb. 1494
PQ4274 .G5 1494
Giovanni Boccaccio was a major Italian humanist and poet of the early Renaissance. This book is an encyclopedia of pagan myths complete with genealogical charts drawn to resemble plants with different characters on the leaves.
Ficino, Marsilio, 1433-1499
Epistole Marsilii Ficini Florentini
Venice: for Hieronymus Blondus Florentinus, 11 March 1495
B785.F43 E6 1494
Marsilio Ficino was a prominent Florentine scholar who was one of the most famous philosophers of his day. This book is a collection of letters written by him.
Savonarola, Girolamo, 1452-1498
Prediche di Frate Hieronymo da Ferrara
[Florence?]: Lorenzo Viuuoli Lano, 1496
BX1756.S347 P7 1496
Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican friar, preacher, and political activist who was eventually condemned to death for his resistance to papal authority. This book presents a collection of sermons and has an ownership inscription from the Florentine noblewoman Signora Laudomia Ricasoli Ridolfi on the first page.
Pius II, Pope, 1405-1464
Epistolae Enee Siluij
[Nuremberg]: Anthon Koberger, 17 May 1496
BX1308 .A3 1496
In addition to being pope from 1458 until 1464, Pius II was a voluminous writer and collected his letters for publication. This copy has a strikingly pictorial bookplate presenting the owner's library.
Filelfo, Francesco, 1398-1481
[Basel: Johann Amerbach, ca. 1496]
PA8520.F5 E6 1496
This second copy of the Italian humanist Filelfo's letters in our collection has numerous ownership marks. The book was once washed to remove its annotations, but traces of them survive in the margins.
[Sebastiano, da Pontremoli, 15th cent.]
Epistola consolatoria de Caldi, Freddi, & Tiepidi & una frottola insieme
[Florence: Lorenzo Morgiani and Johann Petri, ca. 1496]
Torrentinus, H. (Hermannus), -1520.
Textus seque[n]tiaru[m] cu[m] optimo comme[n]to
[Cologne : Heinrich Quentell, 1496]
BV468 .C4 1496
Hermann van der Beke was a Dutch grammarian who has here prepared a collection of liturgical hymns ("Sequences") with extensive comments and explanations for students. The book has numerous marginal annotations in contemporary ink and has the bookplate of Glenmore Whitney Davis, a journalist for The New York Globe, a daily newspaper published until 1923.
Eusebius, of Caesarea, Bishop of Caesarea, ca. 260-ca. 340
De evangelica praeparatione. Latin. 1497
Eusebius de euangelica præparatione opus cuique fideli non solum utile veru etia iocundum & posse necessariu novissime impressum & exactissime emendatum.
Venice: for Bernardinus Benalius, 31 May 1497
BT1116.E952 L3 1497
Eusebius of Caesarea was an early Christian bishop and an extremely prolific apologist, historian, and exegete. This book is a collection of Christian apologetics attempting to prove the excellence of Christianity over pagan religions and philosophies; a 1480 edition of the work printed in Treviso by Michael Manzolo is also held by Special Collections.
Catholic Church. Book of hours. Selections
[Hore presentes ad usum Sarum impresse fuerunt Parisius per Philippu[m] Pigouchet].
Paris: Philippe Pigouchet, for Symon Vostre, 1498
Two leaves: text of the first leaf includes Psalms 40: 2-14 & 41: 2-8; the second leaf includes Psalms 5: 2-13 and 6.
BX2080 .A2 1498
These two leaves taken from a Book of Hours are masterpieces of printing, done in red and black on vellum with great metalcut illustrations along the sides of the page.
[Dubois, Pierre, fl. 1300.]
Dialogus inter clerum et militem
Disputatio inter clericum et militem super potestate prelatis ecclesie atque principibus terrarum comissa sub forma dialogi incipit feliciter
Paris: Guy Marchant, 20 Sept. 1498
BV629 .D52 1498
Passio Domini Jesu Christi secundum quattuor Evangelia
[Basel?: Nicolaus Kesler?, ca. 1498?]
BV4298 .P3 1498
Tractatus contra vicia
Strasbourg: Georg Husner, 5 December 1498
BS1429 .A534 1499
De muliere forti
Cologne: Heinrich Quentell, 7 May 1499
BS1429 .A534 1499
Albertus Magnus was a Dominican bishop and one of the great medieval champions of Aristotelianism. Thomas Aquinas was likely one of his students at the University of Paris. This copy of his commentary on Proverbs XXXI is bound with two other religious tracts, Tracatus consultatorii venerandi magistris Henrici de Gorychum and Tractatus contra vicia.
Firmicus Maternus, Julius
[Venice: Aldo Manuzio, October 1499]
QB41 .F5 1499
Julius Firmicus was a Sicilian lawyer and astrologer. This book, also called the Matheseos libri octo, is the most complete treatise on Roman astrology to survive to the present day.