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Incunabura Collection

Incunabula Collection

Images of incunabula and Incunabula Leaves housed in the the National Diet Library are shown here. The bibliographic information is based on ISTC or Goff. The number from GW (Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke) is indicated, and also the number of printing types used in each incunabulum is described by Typenrepertorium number. Clicking on the linked number in the bibliography will lead you to the images of the founts. Materials are listed in the order of area: 1. Germany 2. Italy 3. France 4. Low Countries 5. England 6. Spain, Portugal. Cities within the area are in order of the date of printing.


external view of incunabula (1) external view of incunabula (2)

At present a collection of 15 incunabula are housed in National Diet Library, of which two are currently being cataloged. The 13 incunabula on display in this exhibition include Aristotle's Problemata, which was purchased in 1926 by the NDL's predecessor, the Imperial Library. Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum naturale (Mirror of nature) and the Biblia Latina were purchased after World War II. All the other incunabula were donated to the Library. Euclid's Elementa geometriae was previously owned by Mr. Seishi Takahashi, and the rest of the donated works belonged to Mr. Noboru Hara. Of the 13 incunabula, five were printed in Germany and eight in Italy.

Incunabula Leaves

external view of incunabula leaf collection

All but one of the leaves displayed in this exhibition are included in the collections of three kinds of Incunabula Leaves edited with commentaries by the German incunabula scholar Konrad Haebler (one is shown at the left). Haebler compiled a conspectus of incunabula printing types, Typenrepertorium (1905-24). As an extension of this work, he published a facsimile collection of printing founts (1907-39) and these leaf collections (1927) as well. Three types of leaf collections were compiled, consisting of 115 leaves from German incunabula, 120 leaves from Italian incunabula, and 60 leaves from other western European incunabula. The collections have been compiled in such a way as to provide practical examples of printing types and each collection is accompanied by a commentary. In addition to 54 selections from the collections, we are also exhibiting a leaf from Gutenberg and the Catholicon of 1460 (New York, 1936) which was published by Margaret Stillwell with a page of the original leaf attached.

* "Incunabula leaves" means leaves taken from original incunabula.

Total list of incunabula shown in this exhibition

List of Incunabula

At present, the NDL owns 13 titles of incunabula (two additional titles are currently in preparation), as well as 307 titles of incunabula leaves (a leaf is a single page of an incunabulum). These are original printed materials, but the Library also owns full-size facsimiles. Including the facsimiles, about 400 incunabula can be viewed at the NDL, some of them only partially. Of these, 300 were printed in Germany or Italy with nearly the same number for each country. Some 50 were printed in France, 20 in England, and 30 in other areas. Many of the facsimiles are of originals printed by William Caxton or Wynkyn de Worde of England. We also have many incunabula (including leaves) printed by Anton Koberger of Nuremberg, Michael Wenssler of Basel and Franciscus Renner of Venice.

The lists of incunabula shown below indicate the authors and titles of the incunabula, incunabula leaves and their facsimiles owned by the NDL, as well as the printers, printing cities and year of printing, source in which the leaves are included and the call numbers. The authors, titles, cities and printers follow the forms used in the IISTC and Goff. Therefore, the city names are written in English. Basically, the year of printing, including estimates, does not include the month and day. The lists are classified according to the areas where the printers were active and are arranged in the following order: (1) Germany, (2) Italy, (3) France, (4) Low Countries, (5) England and (6) Spain and Portugal.

Within each area, the incunabula are arranged in alphabetical order by city, printer and year in the stated order. Those printed by the same printer are listed with the earliest item appearing first.

You can view images of the incunabula whose titles are displayed in blue.

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