initial pThe term incunable, or incunabulum (plural incunabula), refers to a book printed with movable type in the 15th century. The term is derived from the Latin word for cradle and refers to books from the infancy of printing. Connecticut College holds a small collection of incunables, most of them donated by Elisha Palmer a book collector and early benefactor of the College, whose private collection became our first Special Collection.

The vast majority of incunables were printed in Germany and Italy and most of them are in Latin. All of our books, and all but one of our fragments are in Latin (the exception, a page from Dante's Divine Comedy, is in Italian). Of the complete books, two were printed in Germany, where printing with movable type was born, and two in Venice, which grew to dominate the printing business in the late 15th and early 16th century. One of the Venetian imprints was among the last by the renowned French printer Nicolas Jenson and the other features a large gilt initial. All but one of the fragments were printed in Venice, the other being a page from the Nuremburg Chronicle, the most lavish illustrated book of the time.

Further descriptions of the books and fragments may be found by following the links at the upper left.