The Collections: Guide to the Collections: Early Printing
The Lilly Library's collection of incunabula (books printed before 1501) now numbers over 700 titles and is being added to on a selective basis primarily in the major works of the humanities and sciences. Many of the Lilly Library's incunables came with the George A. Poole collection purchased in 1958, and from Mrs. Bernardo Mendel's gift of the stock of the New York rare book firm, Lathrop C. Harper.
Chronologically, the collection begins with the New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible (Mainz, 1455) and sample leaves from the Mainz Psalters of 1457 and 1459. Other major 15th century books in the Library include Cicero's De officiis, Paradoxa (Mainz, 1466), St. Augustine's De civitate dei (Subiaco, 1467), Pliny's Historia naturalis (Venice, 1469), the Imitatio Christi (Augsburg, 1473), Boethius's De consolatione philosophie (Nuremberg, 1473), Marco Polo's Buch des edelen Ritters und Landfahrers Marco Polo (Nuremberg, 1477), Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Westminster, 1477), the first edition of Homer's works in Greek (Florence, 1488), and Albrecht Dürer's Apocalypsis cum Figuris (Nuremberg, 1498).
To assist the reader, separate card files exist for the Lilly incunabula, arranged by date, place of publication, printer, and language.
Related exhibition catalogues include:
- The Bernardo Mendel Collection [ online version available ]
- V. The First Twenty-Five Years of Printing, 1455-1480 [ online version available ]
- XI. An Exhibition of Books from the Firm of Lathrop C. Harper, Inc., Presented to the Lilly Library by Mrs. Bernardo Mendel [ online version available ]
- XLIX. The Bible in the Lilly Library [ online version available ]
Above: First used in 1507, the woodcut was the device of Jocodus Badius Ascensuis of Paris. From a card printed by hand by Fredric Brewer © 1997.