Research Library has opened the collection of the oldest printed books

13 February 2017

Scientists of the TSU Research Library digitized and issued a collection of 26 incunabula - early printed books, published in Europe before 1501. One of these books is very rare. It is a medieval textbook about poetic dimensions, published in 1500. Only two copies of this edition are known in the world.

It is noted that there is no well-known publications among the incunabula of the collection. However, according to the authoritative catalog Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC, British Library), one of them is reported only in the collections of the TSU Research Library and in Germany.

- It is Fundamentum scholarium. Deventer - the textbook on grammar, spelling, and metrics, that is, the science of poetic dimensions, - explains Gennady Kvitko, an employee of the Department of Rare Books. – It is stored in the convolute - assembly of several publications under the same binding.

The earliest items in the collection of incunabula dated 1470 year. A significant part of the collection is medieval theological literature (in particular, the famous Malleus Maleficarum – “The Hammer of Witches”). Editions of ancient authors, natural scientific works, and works of art are also represented in the collection.

One of incunabula was donated by Kazan Federal University, and the rest got in the Research Library with collections of private libraries or book stores. For a long time the whole incunabula texts were available only at European libraries sites, but in 2016 TSU Research Library has started digitizing its collection to allow access for a wide range of readers and professionals from around the world.

According to the employees of the Library, each item of the collection is unique due to the owners' unique records, labels, or markings. That is why all extant incunabula cause interest of researchers from around the world.

- All incunabula are the monuments of the early history of printing, they have a great value - said Gennady Kvitko. - Comparing them with the later books, you can see how the printing technology has evolved and the basic understanding of printed book.

The digital collection of incunabula can be seen here