Material Evidence in Incunabula
MEI is linked to the Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue (ISTC), from which it derives the bibliographical records, and it allows the user to combine search of bibliographical records (extracted from ITSC) with copy-specific records.
Every item of data recorded (a certain style of decoration or binding, the date of a manuscript note, etc.) is treated as a valuable clue for provenance, therefore it can be geographically located and chronologically dated. Explicit ownership notes are further categorised as private or institutional, religious or lay, female or male, and by profession. This enables to track the movement of books across Europe and through the centuries.
Manuscript notes are classified according to their frequency and their type: corrections, completions, supplements, extraction of key words, collation, translation, structuring the text, comments, censorship, reading marks (underlining and pointing hands), drawings.
Personal and institutional names of ownership are linked to the CERL Thesaurus of Provenance names, where further bio-bibliographical information can be found.
Provenance locations are linked to the CERL Thesaurus of Place names, which offers geo-coordinates and map locations. MEI is being developed to provide a physical representation of the circulation of books throughout the centuries, from place of production, to their present locations.
Contribute to MEI
Records are being inserted at the moment by a number of libraries. Contribution of records to MEI is free and welcome: any library with incunabula holdings is encouraged to insert their copy-specific records. MEI Records can be downloaded in Marc21 or Unimarc Holdings for integration into local OPACs. Please contact CERL’s Secretary, Cristina Dondi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributing Libraries: Barcelona, Biblioteca de la Universitat; Cambridge MA, Harvard College Library, Houghton Library; London, British Library; London, Middle Temple Library; London, Senate House Library, Univ. of London; Madrid, Real Biblioteca; Northampton (US), Smith College Library; Padova, Biblioteca Universitaria; Padova, Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile; Perugia, Bibl. Universitaria; Regione Lombardia (at present records from the collections of Univ. Cattolica Milano, Univ. Cattolica Brescia, Seminario Brescia, Chiari, Bibl. Morcelliana; Brescia, Bibl. Queriniana; Milano, Bibl. Trivulziana; Milano, Biblioteca Provinciale dell'Ordine dei Carmelitani Scalzi; Milano, Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense); Roma, Bibl. Nazionale Centrale; Venezia, Biblioteca del Museo Correr; Venezia, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana [part of C. Dondi's research project]; St Petersburg, National Library of Russia.
MEI is hosted by CERL, and freely available on its website. It was created by Cristina Dondi, University of Oxford and Secretary of the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), and developed by Alexander Jahnke of Data Conversion Group, University of Göttingen, with funds from the British Academy granted to Dondi and Nigel Palmer.
Patterns of Historic Shelfmarks
For further information please contact Dr Cristina Dondi.
A leaflet about MEI can be downloaded as a PDF file here.