Initial impressions: a trail of 15th century books in Oxford College libraries

On Friday October 19th Lincoln welcomed over 100 visitors to an afternoon of incunabula (the earliest printed books) in Oxford college libraries. The event was organised to coincide with the launch of the Oxford-based 15cBOOKTRADE’s exhibition, Printing R-Evolution and Society (, at the Museo Correr in Venice and was jointly organised with 6 other colleges: Balliol, Jesus, Magdalen, Merton, Wadham and Worcester.

The afternoon started with a series of short talks on topics as varied as a 1518 donation of printed books to Lincoln, surreptitious incunabula in Balliol, benefactions and piety in Jesus’ Fellows’ Library and Worcester’s debt to H.A. Pottinger, one of the college’s 19th century librarians. From Lincoln, participants were free to wander, map in hand (and thank you to Tim Kirtley, Wadham’s librarian, for this) to exhibitions at other colleges, a rare opportunity to see these wonderful books in their college homes.

IMG_2285One of the particular pleasures of this event was the opportunity it offered to work with colleagues from other college libraries. We were all astounded by the success of the afternoon, with hundreds of people taking advantage of the beautiful weather to complete the whole circuit in time for tea at Merton, and look forward to doing it again.incunabula trail map

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