Thursday, December 22, 2011

Incunabula: The Early Printed Books

AbeBooks: Incunabula: The Early Printed Books: Johannes Gutenberg first thought of the principles behind movable type in 1439. But it was not until 1452 that he finally brought his magnificent idea to fruition and published a complete book, the Gutenberg Bible, in the typographic style.

Gutenberg changed the way Europe thought of the book and heralded a new era of mass communication.  For the first time in western history it was possible to quickly, and relatively cheaply, produce hundreds or even thousands of copies of a single work.

Today book collectors also view the invention of the printing press as a major cultural turning point - books made before and after this point are vastly different and so booksellers, collectors and historians dub books printed in this time of transition as ‘Incunabula.’

The term Incunabula (also incunable or incunabulum) refers to a book, pamphlet or other document that was printed, and not handwritten, before the start of the 16th century in Europe.  The first recorded usage of the term incunabula came in 1639 when the noted bibliophile Bernhard von Mallinckrodt issued a pamphlet to mark the bicentenary of the advent of printing by movable type titled De ortu et progressu artis typographicae (“Of the rise and progress of the typographic art”).

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