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PATRIMONiT is a database of rare or unique sixteenth-century Italian popular editions held today in the British Library (i.e. not surviving in any Italian libraries). It is modelled on the Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI) database and constructed using international standards for describing the material, textual, and visual characteristics of sixteenth-century Italian popular books and their provenance history.

During the course of the next two years, the database will describe hundreds of sixteenth-century Italian popular books.

POPULAR BOOKS are those books or publications read or ‘listened to’ by everyone during the Early Modern Period characterized by LOW COSTS and PRICES (printed in a hurry, cheaply, with poor quality materials and therefore with a short life expectancy) and A WIDE CIRCULATION (often sold directly to buyers in the street). The study of the history of these books and the analysis of their characteristics (material, textual, visual) reveals important social and cultural aspects of the country where they were produced and of the country/city/collection where they have been preserved.

All the evidence of provenance in these books (i.e. former ownership, binding, decoration, manuscript annotations, etc.) is studied and recorded in PATRIMONiT, in order to understand why and how these books came to survive to the present day, to outline in detail their routes from Italy to other countries and to grasp their cultural and historical value for foreign book collectors, librarians and bibliophiles.

Publications by Dr Laura Carnelos:

  • ‘From popular to rare. Acquisition and preservation policies at the British Museum Library in Panizzi’s time’, eBLJ, [forthcoming 2021].
  • [with Elisa Marazzi], ‘Children and Cheap Print from a Transnational Perspective (1500-1900)’, Quaerendo, Special issue 3-4, [forthcoming 2021].
  • ‘Popular print under the press: strategies, practices and materials’, Quaerendo, Special issue 3-4, [forthcoming 2021].
  • ‘Learning from Mistakes: Paper and Printing Defects in 16th-Century Italian Popular Books’, in Printing and Misprinting: Typographical Mistakes and Publishers’ Corrections (1450–1650), edited by Antony T. Grafton, Paolo Sachet, Geri Della Rocca de Candal, Oxford, Oxford University Press, [forthcoming 2021].
  • ‘La catalogazione delle cinquecentine italiane in British Library: Passato e Presente’, in Il libro antico. Limiti e prospettive dei censimenti (14-15 novembre 2017), Bologna, [forthcoming 2021].
  • ‘Rare and Curious Objects’. Politiche di acquisto e di conservazione di materiale italiano nella biblioteca del British Museum ai tempi di Panizzi’, La Bibliofilia, 3 (2019), pp. 501–519.
  • ‘Svista o norma? La produzione di libri di larga diffusione nell’Italia della prima età moderna’, Paratesto, 16 (2019), pp. 135–141.
  • PATRIMONiT. Cinquecentine Italiane nella British Library: da libri popolari a oggetti da preservare, in Editoria popolare in Italia tra XVI e XVII secolo. Testi, collezioni, mestieri. Atti delle giornate di studio (Roma, 13-14 dicembre 2017), edited by Gabriele Bucchi, Paola Cosentino, Giuseppe Crimi, Manziana, Vecchiarelli, 2019, pp. 203–225.
  • ‘Cheap Printing and Street Sellers in Early Modern Italy’, in David Atkinson and Steve Roud, Cheap Print and the People: Popular Literature in the European Perspective, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019, pp. 324–353.
  • ‘Sacre rappresentazioni in the British Library: the history of a collection’, Italian Studies Library Group, 2017, pp. 20–28.


- shares with MEI the data model, most of its fields, the index of owners, the classification of historical shelfmark patterns, and the geonamesID, for the visualisation of the routes taken by books passing from owner to owner.
- contributes bibliographical records from the British Library collection of rare Italian popular editions of the sixteenth century directly to EDIT16, the Italian National database of all books printed in Italy between 1501-1600 and of books containing Italian texts printed elsewhere.
- imports bibliographical information relating to the edition from EDIT16, via the international database ‘Heritage of Printed Books’ (HPB).
- contains innovative sections and fields to describe aspects which pertain specifically to popular books (e.g. paper and type quality); to record all secondary texts in the book, such as prefaces, orations and songs (information stored in the TEXT-inc database for incunabula); and to include relevant archival documentation related to the history of the books.
- contributes new authority data (former owners, editors, printers, booksellers, etc.) into the CERL Thesaurus.

The PATRIMONiT project

The PATRIMONiT database is hosted and maintained by CERL, and freely available on its website. It is created by Laura Carnelos, Marie Curie Fellow at CERL (Feb. 2016-Jan. 2018) and developed by Alexander Jahnke of Data Conversion Group, University of Göttingen, with funds from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement No 659625.

For further information please contact Dr Laura Carnelos at laura.carnelos@cerl.org.

Results of the projects were discussed at the conference “New Sources for Book History” (British Library, 28 November 2017) and can be found here.

How to cite PATRIMONiT records: PT + Copy ID (i.e. PT02015030).

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 resources/patrimonit/main.txt · Last modified: 2021/01/28 12:33 by lefferts



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