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Re-reading the 15th century in digital images

by on February 3, 2010

Digitization of a number of inscriptions on Bodleian incunables has captured some of the evidence for the early use and ownership of pre-1500 printed books. Under the direction of Cristina Dondi, who contributed to the catalogue of incunables in the Bodleian Library (published in 2005), several pages and bindings bearing marks of ownership have been photographed and are accessible via the library’s Special Collections Images page, in the collection “Early Printing in Europe”. It’s now possible to share the copy-specific qualities of these books much more widely than before.

Link to images of provenance evidence in Bodleian incunables.

Looking at the high-quality images available via the Luna browser, early books scholar Martin Davies was able to read an inscription in a book, Scriptores rei militaris ed. Philippus Beroaldus, (catalogue reference Bod-inc S-121) that named the earliest owner. He corrected an earlier reading of the person named — not Anthonius Vieris, as Dr Dondi had originally thought, but Anthonius Urceus, or Antonio Urceo (1446-1500), who was himself a humanist author. The inscription is now recorded as: ‘1496. Kl. martijs hos libros emi e[g]o Anthonius Vrceus de Platone librario sol. .xij.’

See the Bodleian Incunable catalogue (Bod-inc) online

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