Incunabula (incunabulum, plural incunable or incunabula) are books, pamphlets, or broadsides that were printed in Europe before the year 1501.
The word itself is derived from the Latin word incunabula, which means cradle, or swaddling clothes, referring to the very beginning of the art of publishing. This term first appeared in a Latin pamphlet by Bernhard von Mallinckrodt in 1639. His phrase “prima typographicae incunabula” means “the first infancy of printing” in reference to any printing done before the year 1500, an arbitrary date chosen by Mallinckrodt. By the late 1600s, this term was used to describe the physical books from that time period. A less commonly used term for “incunable” is “fifteener,” referring to the fifteenth century.
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Amber is the marketing coordinator at Biblio. A lifelong love of the written word brought her to Biblio and she happily spends her days talking about books and delving into the wide world of antiquarian books.