In February of 2012, through another generous gift from our anonymous donor, we purchased the library’s fourth incunable. (Incunabula are European printed materials from pre-1501. A list of all of our incunabula and early printed books is here.)
Our new acquisition is a 1489 edition of Jacobus de Voragine’s Aurea Legenda, i.e. the Golden Legend. It’s in Latin and tells the life stories of Christian saints. The printer is Georg Husner of Strasbourg. (If you’re wondering why a book published in Strasbourg has “Argentine” in its colophon and on its spine, the answer is that the Romans referred to Strasbourg by its military name, Argentoratum, which became Argentina in medieval Latin.)
This particular copy is in a later binding and has almost all its hand-done initial letters. At least one previous owner made marginal notes on several pages. It will be useful to scholars of medieval history (the text was originally written in the 1200s) and to anyone interested in book history.
We could afford our new incunable because it lacks four leaves and has stains and other flaws — all of great interest to anyone interested in books as objects, so we’re very pleased with the bargain! We know faculty and students will make good use of it in the years to come.
More soon on other purchases made with this same anonymous gift!