(Prof. Nigel Palmer and Dr. Cristina Dondi, British Academy Research Development Award, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, 1 Oct. 2009 - 30 Sept. 2011)
This project proposes for the first time to use the traded objects themselves, 15th-century books which still
survive in their thousands, as essential and unquestionable evidence of the booktrade, to substantially complement current
research on the booktrade based almost solely on scattered documentary evidence (printers contracts, litigations, booksellers stock lists, wills etc.).
The project will investigate, analyse and contextualise the material evidence (ownership notes, binding, decoration, manuscripts notes) of
thousands of surviving incunabula printed in Venice and exported and used everywhere in Europe to assess how their distribution took place, so to
advance our knowledge of the trade network,
as well as of the response of different publics to the introduction of printing, of purchasing and of reading habits.
Data will be partly extracted from published catalogues of incunabula
which contain such information in varying degrees of completeness, partly collected
by Dr Dondi first hand (in Venice and Seville in particular). The result will detail how the
Venetian trade in printed books, the largest in 15th-century Europe, developed and expanded, at the
same time offering a substantial contribution, based on solid and extensive evidence, to the economic and social history of the Renaissance.
'Incunaboli: fonti storiche [Incunabula as historical sources],' Article by Cristina Dondi in L’Almanacco
Bibliografico, no. 12, December 2009, describing the project