15cBOOKTRADE and MEI
The 15cBOOKTRADE project, affiliated with the University of Oxford, is an international project which records the incunabula (books printed between the years 1450-1500) that survive until today all over the world. More specifically, it tracks the surviving material evidence on the books, in order to study the circulation, selling and incorporation of books in people’s lives during the Renaissance. This enables the study of the economic and social impact of the introduction of a new technology, printing, on early European society.
In the five-year period 2014-2019 the 15cBOOKTRADE project recorded and analysed evidence found in incunabula held in large and small European and some American libraries. The project is now completed, but research continues; its databases are constantly enriched, including more and more libraries from all around the world.
Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI)
The database Material Evidence in Incunabula is among the tools developed in order to support this project. This database, conceived by Cristina Dondi and developed by Alex Jahnke, is hosted and maintained by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) and is constantly updated and enriched by contributing editors, librarians and scholars in some 600 libraries all over the world.
As of today (March 2023) more than 60,000 copies of incunabula are featured in the database, collecting information on ownership evidence, prices, marginalia, binding, decoration, stamps, testaments of the books’ journey through time and space.