You are on page 1of 3

Incunabula include the Gutenberg Bible of 1455, the Peregrinatio in terram sanctam

of 1486printed and illustrated by Erhard Reuwichboth from Mainz, the


Nuremberg Chronicle written by Hartmann Schedel and printed by Anton Koberger
in 1493, and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili printed by Aldus Manutius with
important illustrations by an unknown artist. Other printers of incunabula were
Gnther Zainer of Augsburg, Johannes Mentelin and Heinrich Eggestein of
Strasbourg, Heinrich Gran of Haguenau and William Caxton of Bruges and London.
The first incunable to have woodcut illustrations was Ulrich Boner's Der Edelstein,
printed by Albrecht Pfister in Bamberg in 1461.[8]
Statistical data
Printing towns
Distribution by region
Distribution by language

The data in this section were derived from the Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue
(ISTC).[9]

Printing towns: The number of printing towns and cities stands at 282. These are
situated in some 18 countries in terms of present-day boundaries. In descending
order of the number of editions printed in each, these are: Italy, Germany, France,
Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, England, Austria, the Czech Republic,
Portugal, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, and Hungary (see
diagram below). The following table shows the 20 main 15th century printing
locations; as with all data in this section, exact figures are given, but should be
treated as close estimates (the total editions recorded in ISTC at May 2013 is
28,395):

Town or city No. of editions % of ISTC recorded editions


Venice 3,549 12.5
Paris 2,764 9.7
Rome 1,922 6.8
Cologne 1,530 5.4
Lyon 1,364 4.8
Leipzig 1,337 4.7
Augsburg 1,219 4.3
Strasbourg 1,158 4.1
Milan 1,101 3.9
Nuremberg 1,051 3.7
Florence 801 2.8
Basel 786 2.8
Deventer 613 2.2
Bologna 559 2.0
Antwerp 440 1.5
Mainz 418 1.5
Ulm 398 1.4
Speyer 354 1.2
Pavia 337 1.2
Naples 323 1.1
TOTAL 22,024 77.6

Languages: The 18 languages that incunabula are printed in, in descending order,
are: Latin, German, Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Catalan, Czech,
Greek, Church Slavonic, Portuguese, Swedish, Breton, Danish, Frisian, Sardinian and
Occitan(see diagram below).
Illustrations: Only about one edition in ten (i.e. just over 3,000) has any
illustrations, woodcuts or metalcuts.
Survival: The 'commonest' incunable is Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle ("Liber
Chronicarum") of 1493, with c 1,250 surviving copies (which is also the most heavily
illustrated). Very many incunabula are unique, but on average about 18 copies
survive of each. This makes the Gutenberg Bible, at 48 or 49 known copies, a
relatively common (though extremely valuable) edition.
Total number of volumes: Counting extant incunabula is complicated by the fact
that most libraries consider a single volume of a multi-volume work as a separate
item, as well as fragments or copies lacking more than half the total leaves. A
complete incunable may consist of a slip, or up to ten volumes.
Formats: In terms of format, the 29,000-odd editions comprise: 2,000 broadsides,
9,000 folios, 15,000 quartos, 3,000 octavos, 18 12mos, 230 16mos, 20 32mos, and
3 64mos.
Caxton: ISTC at present cites 528 extant copies of books printed by Caxton, which
together with 128 fragments makes 656 in total, though many are broadsides or
very imperfect (incomplete).
Dispersal: Apart from migration to mainly North American and Japanese
universities, there has been remarkably little movement of incunabula in the last
five centuries. None were printed in the Southern Hemisphere, and the latter
appears to possess less than 2,000 copies i.e. about 97.75% remain north of the
equator. However many incunabula are sold at auction or through the rare book
trade every year.