Incunabula includes printed material from the 15th century. The earliest single publication referred to as incunabulum is the Gutenberg Bible with the final year of incunabula publications universally designated as 1501. Collectors choose these pioneer printings by choosing a subject of interest, preferred bindings, and special attributes to personalize their collections. Ask any aficionado collector what drives their interest in collecting and they would advise to be passionate about what you collect. That holds true for anyone who collects antiquarian and collectible books. Check out these century-old antiques on eBay compatible with a wide range of budgets.

What Types of Incunabula Subjects are Available?

When choosing a subject to collect, you can stick with what you know or expand your horizons to include subject matter such as these topics that may not be as familiar:

  • Literature: A first print edition of the "Odyssey" by Homer is a rare find that any collector would treasure. Other literature incunabula may include a 1500 Latin poem by Visdomini or original opera works.
  • History: When completing your history incunabula collection, select pieces from a certain region or a specific language. You'll be able to find loose leaf historical pages representative of French, German, and other cultures.
  • Medicine: To add visual interest to your collection, medicine incunabula includes colorful illustrations of plants and foods in addition to pictures and literature regarding mineralogy.

What are Popular Incunabula Bindings?

Bindings of original documents are often missing in which case restorers use goat skin. Some of these bindings may have survived:

  • Vellum: Manufactured using goat, calf or sheep skin, vellum incunabula manuscripts and loose leaf examples may be in the form of land grants and books. The material helps make books more solid and sturdier as compared to the binding method in earlier centuries called Coptic.
  • Leather: In the 15th century, book makers used a brass finishing tool to make impressions on dampened leather called blind tooling. Some bindings from as early as the 1480s have survived.
  • Other Bindings: You'll find hardcover and fine bindings on Bibles and novels and selections of unbound bibliographies and pages from Latin religious documents.

Is One Special Attribute More Important Than Another?

The scarcity of a well-known work drives up its importance and value as does its popularity. Examples of such printings include the Nuremberg Chronicle and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili that includes woodcut illustrations. First editions and signed incunabula in good condition are also preferred.