Thursday, August 16, 2012

Incunabula are amazing

I spent Wednesday looking at incunabula at NYPL. They have over 900 of the precious works and a huge collection of bibles. As you know I've been working on a study involving incunable Bibles and decided that I would continue to work on it as an entry into a variety of rare book rooms across NYC and other cities.

The 1501 bible printed by Koberger was a delight. Purchased for the Lenox Collection, it is in original boards that are blind-stamped. (I'll be taking photos next week.)  The book is printed on beautiful textured paper. As you can imagine, the Pentateuch is heavily annotated by hand as are the Gospels. The rest is pristine. There's little hand work by this point in time but each decorative letter has a guide letter peaking out from beneath the blue or red. There's hand rubrication of all the capital letters. Chapters are captioned as are books. The running headers cover both recto and verso, but are inconsistent. What's really interesting is the Hebrew transliteration which is strangely accented. I have to consult some colleagues to determine what accent Koberger would have heard. In some cases, even sounding out the words doesn't make any sense. Needless to say, it was an absorbing experience. 

After examining Goff, which is annotated with corrections, shelf marks for NYPL, and changes in ownership for collections, there are a dozen more Bibles by Koberger, Amerbach and others I want to examine, including 5 Hebrew incunabula.  

I promise pictures next time, providing NYPL doesn't have any restrictions on posting images online.

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