Material Evidence in Incunabula
NEW: A video on the visualisation of the circulation of 15th-century printed books over time and space, using MEI data, can be seen here: Video.
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, corrections/notes by the printer, lecture notes.
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 in Europe and the US. Contribution of records to MEI is free and welcome: any library with incunabula holdings is encouraged to insert their copy-specific records. Please contact CERL’s Secretary, Cristina Dondi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEI is hosted and maintained 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. Further development is being funded by a 5-year ERC Consolidator Grant held by Cristina Dondi as PI of the 15cBOOKTRADE Project, for which see http://15cbooktrade.ox.ac.uk
Patterns of Historic Shelfmarks
For further information please contact Dr Cristina Dondi.
A leaflet about MEI can be downloaded as a PDF file here.