Since the summer of 2019, the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation has begun searching for incunable editions held in libraries all over Greece and recording them in the database Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI), as part of the 15cBOOKTRADE project. The information recorded in MEI includes material evidence surviving in 15th-century printed books: decoration, binding, marginalia, stamps, records of previous owners, prices, etc.
Incunabula (or incunables), books printed in Europe before 1501, hold a special part in the history of the book and are a continuously rising research subject internationally.
The incunabula surviving today in Greek libraries are relatively few: 548 copies in 48 libraries. Most of them were recorded for the first time by the British researcher Dennis Rhodes in the 1970s, in his pioneering book Incunabula in Greece. In 2016-2018, the 15cBOOKTRADE researcher Geri Della Rocca de Candal and his collaborators, funded by the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, recorded in MEI the incunabula held in the libraries in Athens, and began work in other Greek libraries. This project was carried on by a team from the Foundation’s Historical Library, Even though our work was slowed down by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was completed in November 2022.
During the four-year period 2019-2022, we visited libraries in every corner of the country. From northern Greece to Crete, from the Dodecanese to the Ionian Islands, to the Peloponnese, to Thessaly, to Epirus, even Mount Athos. Book in hand research, combined with bibliographic evidence, previous research, and last but not least the help of colleagues and word of mouth, led us to record 124 incunables in 38 libraries outside Athens.
This website places all this information on a map, showing the dispersion of incunables all over Greece, and presents the previously recorded data regarding Athenian libraries.
It collects in one place all data from MEI concerning surviving copies in Greek libraries, creating a comprehensive digital tool that will aid research around the circulation of texts in Greece from the 16th century onwards, the commercial networks and economic value of books, the production of printed books aimed at a Greek-speaking audience, the identity of readers and significant personalities that played a part in the creation of significant Greek libraries that continue their work to the present day.
The project team
Dr Vera Andriopoulou
With the collaboration of
Special thanks to
Professor Cristina Dondi, University of Oxford, Principal Investigator of the 15cBOOKTRADE project, for her constant support
Dr Geri della Rocca de Candal, for the generous offer of data from his previous research and his ongoing help
All the colleagues from public and private libraries around the country, collectors and scholars, who generously provided access to their material, shared their knowledge and gave us information and clues for new findings.
The photos used in this website are:
- property of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation
- taken by the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation team and their collaborators during their travels, with the explicit permission of the holding institutions
- provided by libraries and institutions, exclusively for the purpose of the current project
- taken from the institutions’ public websites, exclusively for the purpose of the current project.