Displaying incunabula: a labour of love

By , 4 November 2014 7:46 pm

The Library’s incunabula exhibition, Private Lives of Print: the use and abuse of books 1450-1550 opened to great acclaim on 23 October 2014. Thanks to a generous donation from the Howard and Abby Milstein Fund we are able to photograph every item in the cases for a virtual exhibition which will remain after the physical display closes. Given the short exhibition changeover period (only eight working days in this instance) the books were photographed in advance, many of them flat or as single pages, rather than in their final cradles.

There has been a great deal of interest from other specialist librarians and exhibition curators in the way we have displayed the books. The process of preparation for this particular exhibition was considerably more intensive than in previous cases; the theme of the exhibition focuses primarily on books as objects, rather than on the texts within, meaning that they need to be displayed in unusual and often unique ways. The Library’s Conservation team leapt at the challenges this created: how to show multiple openings at once; how to hang broadsides as if nailed to the back of the case; how to display a binding and its endpapers simultaneously.  Some of the stands took several months to design, and were manufactured by Engineering Design and Plastics, a local firm. Other special features of the display, such as the maniculae pointing at marginal markings in our Gutenberg Bible, were dreamed up only in the last few days of the mounting process and created with a Blue Peter-esque level of ingenuity. The curators and exhibitions officers are immensely grateful to the Conservation team for their patience, imagination and dedication to this exhibition, and a few samples of their work are shown here. Some of the photographs were taken professionally at the exhibition opening, others by a member of staff, so please excuse the variation in quality. Continue reading 'Displaying incunabula: a labour of love'»

New technologies and old; photographing incunabula

comments Comments Off
By , 16 July 2014 12:04 pm

A member of the Library’s Conservation department prepares a Book of Hours printed on vellum for photography

To mark the end of the five-year incunabula cataloguing project, Ed Potten and Emily Dourish are editing a volume of essays on some of the treasures of the Library’s early printed holdings. 60 distinguished authors have submitted their pieces (see earlier posts on visits from Sir Quentin Blake and Sir David Attenborough) and the task of creating the page layouts is well under way. The final batch of books was taken to the photography studio last week, and some 400 images have been produced in total for the catalogue and other projects. These images will be of immense value in the future, for teaching, research and publicity purposes, and we are very fortunate to have an in-house Digital Content Unitand a very experienced Conservation team to assist with their creation. Continue reading 'New technologies and old; photographing incunabula'»

Bound with leaves from the Bible; identifying “paper wrappers”

By , 16 May 2013 2:27 pm

Cambridge University Library possesses four copies of the Ninth German Bible, considered to be one of the most beautiful of all German Bibles, printed in Nuremberg by Anton Koberger in 1483. Koberger is most well known as the printer of the Liber Chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle) and this Bible is no less splendid a production, and on a similarly grand scale. The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue lists nearly 300 extant copies, in varying degrees of completeness, and estimates of the print run range from 1000 to 1500. The text was taken primarily from the Fourth German Bible printed by Zainer in Augsburg in 1475 while the 109 images were produced using woodcuts by the Master of the Colgone Bible; Koberger purchased these after they were first used by Heinrich Quentell for his Low German Bible (Cologne, 1478). Continue reading 'Bound with leaves from the Bible; identifying “paper wrappers”'»