Enhance your collection with amazing historical incunabula from the earliest days of European printing. Incunabula is a Latin word used for books, pamphlets, and other materials that were produced using movable-type printing technology in Europe prior to 1501. The movable-type printing press was introduced to Europe by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century and started a transformative printing revolution.

The subject matter of incunabula is predominantly religious, humanist, and legal. Around 30,000 original incunabula editions are known to exist. Incunabula can be found from all over Western Europe, but the greatest number come from Italy, Germany, and France.

These rare collectible incunabula possess great historical value because of their unique historical qualities. They are full of striking, unique typefaces, illuminations, and intricate designs that make them a pleasure to gaze upon as well as read. One of the special qualities of incunabula is the continuation of features of medieval hand-written manuscripts. For example, many incunabula feature a column-style layout where the text is featured in the center and enclosed by a commentary. Commentary also took the form of marginalia, which are small notes inserted in the margins. Incunabula also showcase rubrication, which was the practice of leaving the first letter of a chapter blank when printing so it could afterwards be hand-drawn in elaborate style by a professional.

One of the first incunabula books is the Gutenberg Bible, which was the first major work to be mass-printed. Another, the Nuremberg Chronicle, or the Liber Chronicarum, is a Bible-based history of the world that is replete with illustrations; this was printed in 1493, and of the 2,500 copies printed, 700 are estimated to have survived. When you shop incunabula, you may also find the works of Roman classicists, such as Cicero, that were printed on the Italian presses in the original Latin. Explore listings from AbeBooks sellers to add exceptional items to your collection.