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History of Printing Resources in Archives and Special Collections

Archives and Special Collections offers a variety of resources pertaining to the history of printing. These include materials dating from the 14th to 20th centuries.


Between 1450 and 1455,  Johannes Gutenburg created the first book in western Europe to be made with a moveable type press.This book, popularly known as the Gutenburg Bible but also called the Forty-two-line Bible for its 42 lines to a column, is an edition of an early 5th century Latin version of the Bible. Around 180 of these Bibles were created with only 42 surviving to present day. Individual leaves from these Bibles often sell at high rates. 

Incunable, or incunabulum refer to books printed before the year 1501, a period known as the cradle of printing.  Archives and Special Collections has examples of incunable, bound in vellum,  available for viewing.

Sources: The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. s.v. "Gutenberg, Johann."

The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance. Aylesbury: Market House Books Ltd, 1987. s.v. "Gutenberg, Johann (c. 1399-1468)." 

The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance. Aylesbury: Market House Books Ltd, 1987. s.v. "incunabula (Latin: swaddling clothes." 

OneSearch Search Tip

To research pre-printing and early books in Archives and Special Collections, try an Advanced Search in OneSearch.

  1. In the drop down menu, select Subject and enter "Manuscripts, Medieval", "Incunabula", "Printing History", and/or "Gilding".
  2. Limit results by entering search terms in the Words or Phrase, Author, Title, or Subject fields. Click "Search".
  3. On the left side of the search results page, narrow results in Library Location to Archives and Special Collections.