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.


At present a collection of 15 incunabula are housed in National Diet Library. The 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), Biblia Latina, Solinus’ Polyhistor and Albert od Saxony’s De proportionibus 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 15 incunabula, five were printed in Germany and ten in Italy.

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Incunabula Leaves

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.

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Digital Exhibitions

"Incunabula: Dawn of Western Printing" is one of digital exhibitions of the National Diet Library.
The NDL Digital Exhibitions features the NDL’s unique collections with explanations covering various themes such as nishiki-e, landscape photographs and historical materials. Discover your favorites!