The 15th Century at Lehigh

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Introduction

From about 1455, when Johann Gutenberg developed a mechanized process for producing books we call "printing" and used it to produce a Bible, until about 1500, the format of books went through considerable change. A unique manuscript copy of a text had different requirements from a work to be produced in hundreds or even thousands of identical copies. Such things as pagination, title pages, indexes, and other features familiar today came into existence during the first fifty years of the craft of printing. For this reason, books produced from the invention of printing to the end of the 15th century have been termed incunabula, or "cradle printing" to denote the infancy of this craft.

Lehigh University is fortunate to own over 30 books from this period on a wide range of subjects from a wide range of locations. The purpose of this exhibition is to take advantage of these holdings to illustrate the development of books in the latter half of the 15th century. In addition, it offers an opportunity to take at look a national differences in typography and other variations. Titles and subjects have been chosen with an eye to presenting to viewers texts which will already be familiar, at least by reputation.

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