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Incunabula

Rare Books holds some 140 incunabula, the earliest being Paulus de Sancta Maria Scrutinium scripturarum (Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, not after 1470). The first incunabulum acquired by the McGill library was a copy of Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea (Basel: [Michael Wenssler], 1490). It came with the bequest of the library of John Robson, M.D. of Warrington, England in 1877. Italian and German printing is particularly well represented as are theology, the classics and Italian literature. Among the more important items are two copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), a copy of Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1499), Henry Parker's Dives and Pauper (Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, 1486) and the third edition of Pliny's Historia Naturalis (Venice: Nicolas Jensen, 1472), the William Morris copy. There are as well a number of fragments and single leaves including a leaf of the 42-line Bible printed by Johann Gutenberg ca 1455. With the some 150 incunabula held by the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University Libraries has the largest collection of incunabula in Canada. The study of incunabula is supported by the extensive holdings of Rare Books Reference Collection on the subject of early printed books.

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