Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


A bound copy of two German incunabula

[A bound copy of two German incunabula]

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This is a Sammelband of two printed books of practical content. The first, generally called a 'Computus', describes how to calculate time and establish an authoritative calendar. The edition in the Keio Sammelband, which includes Sacro Bosco's De algorithmus, was published by Johann Prüss in Strasbourg in 1488. These two works, the 'Computus' and Sacro Bosco's text, were very useful for determining the calendar and calculating dates, and were widely read from the Middle Ages onwards. Carolus Maneken's Formulae epistolarum, the other book bound into this Sammelband, is also a very practical text, containing abundant examples of how to write letters suitable for various situations. The Keio copy of Maneken's book is similarly thought to have been published in Strasbourg.

The two books were presumably bound together in Germany in the late 15th century, around the same time that they were published. Assuming that both were printed in Strasbourg, it is highly likely that they were bound together there. On the paste free-endpaper of the upper cover is the autograph of 'Nicholaus Ellenbog 1498', probably the autograph of an early owner. Although this is merely supposition, this owner might have ordered these two books to be bound together. An antiquarian bookshop's catalogue offers the conjecture that this autograph was possibly that of a certain humanist and librarian, Nicholaus Ellenbog (1481-1543), or his father.

The Keio copy has lost the clasps, but otherwise retains the original binding in good condition, including the title label on the upper cover.




Contemporary German quarter calf over wooden boards with blind-stamped leather back, original manuscript title label on upper cover, spine missing.

Acquisition Year

Nicholaus Ellenbog 1494 (signature; inside the front and back covers).