GW News

From Exlibris-L

Dear all:
Happy New Year from Berlin, where the GW has been relocated (again) to provisional offices for the rest of the library’s reconstruction. In the past couple of weeks some interesting “incunabular” news came in, so here we go.

– The database has been updated two days ago, and as usual, here’s the number of entries containing links to one or more digitised copies: 12,129 (and counting).

– Browsing for “incunables” in the Spanish digital repository DADUN (digital repository of the Univ. of Navarra at Pamplona), one finds lots of interesting stuff and full-text papers, cf. The most recent entry, from 2012, presents Pamplona UL’s incunabula acquisitions 2004-2010, Also very remarkable is an online virtual exhibition at, published in 2008. It concerns the discovery of an unrecorded indulgence, GW0125980N, ISTC if00240380. No less than 26 copies of this broadside were recovered from a binding about ten years ago, but just six of these are accounted for today, and we have to assume that many of the other 20 or so were sold to Spanish booksellers.

– Speaking of which, a very strange find spot was recently reported – also by Spanish scholars. A couple of unrecorded indulgences from the press of Juan de Porras in Salamanca, issued by Juan del Fierro and Alfonso Álvarez in 1498, “along with others of this kind from 1484 to 1539, were found in the grave of Isabel de Zuazo, buried in the church of San Esteban de Cuéllar, whose restoration provoked this finding.” Source: Fermín de los Reyes and Marta M. Nadales, “The Book in Segovia in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries”, in Print Culture and Peripheries in Early Modern Europe, ed. B. Rial Costas, Leiden/Boston 2013 (sic), p. 345-62, at 350 n.1. The Spanish habit to bury indulgences with their former owners was already known from historical sources, but to the best of my knowledge no original issues have ever been reclaimed from a grave; de los Reyes and Nadales refer to the monograph La iglesia de San Esteban de Cuellar (2011) which I haven’t yet seen, and they are currently investigating the matter further. (In parentheses: The aforementioned volume contains a number of incunabula-related articles. Should anyone want an electronic offprint of my contribution “Monastic Printing Houses in the 15th Century”, p. 37-67, please let me know.)

– Indulgences again: About a year or so ago, a fragment of an early (c. 1470) indulgence issued by Henricus Institoris was found in Leipzig, as probably mentioned that in one of last year’s messages to the lists. Surprisingly, a few weeks ago a complete copy of this indulgence came to light at the Municipal Archive in Chemnitz and is currently shown in the exhibition “Des Himmels Fundgrube” at Chemnitz. More at According to Paul Needham (personal communication), this is “a spectacular find”. No doubt about that, especially as the fount used for this small print seems to be completely unknown from other incunables.

– New database entries:, another edition of Dante’s “Credo”, found by Adolfo Tura in a private collection. Remarkably, this is only the second known edition from the workshop of Franciscus de Cennis in Florence., yet another Donatus fragment from Nuremberg, in a private collection in California.

To conclude, just this morning we learned about the Lavicka collection in Ljubljana. From their website at “Czech born pharmacist Buhuslav Lavicka (1879 – 1942) enriched Slovenian culture with his exceptional pharmaceutical collection. His decades of association with the largest European antique stores, produced an almost complete assortment of pharmaceutical and medical items and books. His library of over four hundred books is representative of almost all the essential publications, not only from the medical and natural sciences, but also from humanistic and philosophic fields. Along with the many incunabula, two pages from the Gutenberg Bible deserve special attention and bear witness to Lavicka’s success as a collector.”

Thanks, best wishes,

Dr. Falk Eisermann
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke / Inkunabelsammlung
Unter den Linden 8
D-10117 Berlin (Mitte)
Tel. +49 (0)30 266 435 150
Fax +49 (0)30 266 335 155

Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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