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Fifteenth Century Printed Books at Bryn Mawr (BMC)

Overview of collection of 15th century printed book collection (incunabula).

Vernacular Works - Introduction

The incunable collection at Bryn Mawr College holds a great number of vernacular texts. Although Latin still dominated the European intellectual sphere, the vernacular languages had started to become more frequently utilized by the end of the fifteenth century, and along with the technological innovation of the moveable-type printing press in the middle of the century, helped to expand readership significantly.

Detail from De la bataille judaique. Paris: Antoine Verard, post 1492. ff J-489. Gift of Howard Lehman Goodhart.


Latin aside, the most prominent language among the printed texts in the collection is Italian.   Included are works of the major 14th and 15th century writers, such as Dante, Petrarch, Bruni and Poggo Bracciollini, as well as Italian-language translations of classical and patristic writers.  The author with by far the largest number of works is Girolamo Savonarola, with 27 pamphlets published by the end of 1500, 21 of them in Italian.  Among the notable works in Italian:

Augustine. De la cita d’dio. Venice(?): Antonio di Bartolommeo, pre 1483. f A-1248.

Leonardo Bruni. Le historie Fiorentine. Florence: Bartolommeo di Libri, 1492. f B-1248.

Dante Alighieri. La Commedia. Venice: Pietro Cremonese, 1491. f D-33.

Jerome. Epistolae. Ferrara: Laurentius de Rubeis, de Valentia, 1497. f H-178.

Livy. Historiae Romanae decades [Italian]. Venice: Octavianus Scotus, 1481. L-253.

Francesco Petrarch. Trionfi, Sonetti e Canzone. 2 volumes. Venice: Giovanni Capasa. 1492–1493. f P-388.

Poggio Bracciolini, Historia Fiorentina.  Venice: Jacobo de Rossi, 1476.  f P-873

Francesco Colonna, Hypernotomachia Poliphili.  Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1499.

German, Dutch, French, Spanish

German, French, and Hebrew are also represented in the collection to a lesser extent. Below are some of the titles in these languages.


Hans Mickell, tr. Das abc der götlichen liebe. Memingen: Albrecht Kunne, 1493. A-532.

Biblia [German]. Nuremburg: Johann Sensenschmidt and Andreas Frisner, 1476–8. f B-628

Biblia [German]. 2 volumes. Nuremberg: Anton Koburger, 1483. f B-632

Hartmann Schedel. Das Buch der Chroniken und Geschichten (Nuremberg Chronicle). Translated by Georg Alt. Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 1493. f S-309.

Bernhard von Breydenbach. Die heyligen reyssen gen Jherusalem. Mainz: Erhard Reuwich, 1486. f B-1193.

Dionysius de Burgo Sancti Sepulchri. Commentarii in Valerium Maximum. Abridged and translated by Heinrich von Mügeln. Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 1489. f D-243.

Gerard Zerbolt. Traktat von den geistlichen Aufsteigungen. N.P.: N.Pr., N.D. G-182

Johannes Tauler. Sermonen und Historia. Leipzig: Conrad Kachelofen, 1498. T-48


Rolevinck, Werner. Fasciculus temporum [Dutch]. Utrecht: Jan Veldener, 1480. f R-278.


Grandes chroniques de France. Paris: Pasquier Bonhomme,1476/7. f C-483.

Josephus. De la bataille judaique. Paris: Antoine Verard, post 1492. ff J-489.


Antoninus Florentinus. Confessionale [Spanish]. Burgos, Frierich Biel, 1492. A-785-6: Not in Goff

Fernando Mexia. Nobilario prefetamente copilado. Seville : Pierre Brun and Juan Gentil, 1492. M-531.


The collection includes six Hebrew texts, five of them printed by the Soncino Press of Naples, and the other by the Gunzenhauser Press, also of Naples. By some estimates, the Soncino Press printed approximately a third of known Hebrew incunabula. Three of the following volumes were featured in an exhibition organized by the Rosenbach Museum & Library in 2007 on Hebraica in Philadelphia collections:See David Stern, Evelyn M. Cohen, and Emile G.L. Schrijver. Chosen: Philadelphia’s Great Hebraica. Edited by Judith M. Guston. Philadelphia: Rosenbach Museum & Library, 2007. Cat# 19, 20, 24.

Avicenna. Kanon (Canon medicinae. Lib. I–V). Naples: Azriel ben Joseph Askelnazi Gunzenhauser, 1491. Heb-4. 2 copies.

Mishnayot. Naples: Joshua Soloman Soncino, 1492. f Heb-82.

Pirke Abot. [Soncino: Joshua Soloman Soncino, 1486?]. Heb-83. 2 copies.

Moses ben Nahman, Perush ha-Tora. [Naples: Joshua Soloman Soncino], 1490. Heb-88.