Maps, Codex, Manuscripts, Incunabula, & Book Arts

Objects in these categories are notable for their physical features in addition to their intellectual content. Maps in the collection indicate not only what was known about the world from the 16th through the 19th centuries, but what different users needed to know, presented in formats suited to their varying circumstances. About two dozen codex manuscripts, many of them illuminated, represent the arts of the book in Europe before printing, and nearly 100 incunabula are among the earliest examples of European movable-type printing. Other books, such as a complete set of Kelmscott Press titles, were collected as beautiful specimens of the book arts. Beyond their aesthetic qualities, bindings, illuminations, illustrations, and typography can also reveal the ways in which books were made and used, providing insight into topics like trade practices and education in the societies from which they came.

Collection Highlights

Curiosa Mathematica, Part I: A New Theory of Parallels

Better known for his works of fiction, published under the name Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson also published under his own name in his academic specialty of mathematics. In the rare geometry text  A Theory of Parallels, published in 1888, Dodgson presents his own ideas on Euclid's parallel axiom.

Libre de les dones

Dr. Rosenbach styled himself a descendant of the early Spanish printer Johann Rosenbach, and actively acquired books printed by him. This volume is one of the first printed books to feature a true title page (most books at the time began with an index). The woodcut gives all of the…

Tabula festorum mobilium cum canone

This medieval “belt book,” an almanac and medical reference guide, was once carried by a physician on a cord attached to his girdle. Written on parchment, each sheet is folded in sixths, and is fastened to the others by a narrow “tail” at its base. The book includes a calendar,…

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The Marvelous World of Meggendorfer’s Moving Books

Did you know that pop-up books have been around for hundreds of years? The earliest examples of movable books — some as early as the thirteenth century! — were used for adult education. Books on subjects ranging from human anatomy to artistic perspective used tabs, flaps, and fold-outs to illustration information that was best conveyed …