History of Printing

History of the Book and Printing

The history of printing and the book arts is one of the primary interests of Special Collections. Highlights include:

  • A collection of two dozen incunabula including a splendid copy of Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Chronicarum (1493)
  • Numerous sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century titles from important printers such as Aldus Manutius, the Elzevirs, the Plantin-Moretus family, Baskerville, Bodoni, and others

These materials provide an essential learning laboratory for students and faculty interested in the history and technologies of the book.  They also complement and provide a touchstone for a campus-wide interest in the history and future of media, communications, and disruptive technologies such as the Internet and the printing press.

Finding Aids for the History of Printing

Dime Novels


Dime novels were published from the middle nineteenth century through the early twentieth century and were largely pulp fiction aimed at a…

Frank Luther Mott Collection of American Best Sellers, 1662-1945


In 1965, shortly after Frank Luther Mott’s death, his family presented his personal library to the University. The private papers, manuscripts, and…



The Department of Rare Books and Special collections maintains a small collection of incunabula (European books printed before 1501) and early printed…

Pages from the Past Collection

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Pages from the Past is a collection of manuscript and rare book leaves compiled and sold by a New York book dealer Alfred W. Stites from 1964 to 1967.…

Press Ephemera Collection

Scope and Contents The collection contains material on private and specialty presses, dating primarily from the 1980s to the present. Many items in…

Rare Book Collection


The Rare Book Collection is the default designation for materials in Special Collections that are acquired as individual items. Like Special…

Related Exhibits

Engraved Throughout


This exhibition features engraved books housed in Special Collections & Rare Books, and includes some of the finest engraved books...

Many Happy Returns


This exhibit brings together a selection of items associated with the most important literary anniversaries celebrated in 2016.

Incunables in Special Collections


Printing with moveable type began in Europe in the 1450s in the German city of Mainz with the Gutenberg Bible...

Selected Items

A specimen of printing types / by W. Caslon and Son, letterfounder, London.


Includes fonts in Hebrew, Gothic, Coptic, Etruscan, Arabic, etc., music and printer flowers.

Historia animalium. Liber 1-2. German


1st edition.
Translation of books I and II of the author's Historia animalium.
Woodcut of an animal carrying its babies on its back on t.p. (from…

Bible. Latin. Vulgate. 1480.

BS75 1480_photo5_omeka.jpg

No t.p. Title from Goff.
Imprint given at the end of the New Testament (leaf 422)
Illuminated initials at beginning of prologue and at beginning of…

De evangelica praeparatione. Latin


Title from leaf a4v.
Edited by Hieronymus Bononius.
Imprint from colophon, leaf p7v.
Signatures: a¹⁰ b-n⁸/⁶ o⁶ p⁸ (a1 and p8 blank).