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University of Groningen Library

The material aspects of incunabula

19 March 2021
Anna de Bruyn
Anna de Bruyn

In January and February 2021, in the Special Collections room of the UB Groningen, Anna de Bruyn studied part of the incunabula for material aspects that were added to the books over the centuries and that are unique to each copy. This could include handwritten notes, decorations, owners’ inscriptions and bindings. The study results have been added to the international online database Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI). MEI was specially established for this purpose by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) and is accessible for everyone via open access. Thanks to this study, we have gained new insight into the fate of these fifteenth-century books before they landed in the UB Groningen.

MEI now includes 51 editions in our possession that have been closely and comprehensively documented regarding traces of ‘material evidence’. Many of these traces were already well-known by specialists but, in this way, they are now easily and widely accessible. In addition, MEI makes all sorts of relationships visible. For example, all the incunabula that were ever in the possession of Dr Wilhelmus Frederici (1455-1525), head vicar of the Martinikerk and secretary to the city of Groningen, are grouped together. This now includes five incunabula from our Special Collections department and one copy from the National Library in The Hague. Who knows what is hiding in other libraries...

Anna de Bruyn was able to carry out her work thanks to a placement grant from the Consortium of European Research Libraries.

UBG incunabel 189. Frederici had his name written in the initial: "magister Wylhelmus Frederici doctor"
UBG incunabel 189. Frederici had his name written in the initial: "magister Wylhelmus Frederici doctor"
Last modified:23 March 2021 09.40 a.m.
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