Incunabula Collection

An ever-expanding collection of books printed before 1501. Stanford Special Collections currently holds about 240 specimens, and there are additional books housed at the Lane Medical Library.


Incunabula came into the Stanford collections in the 1890s, when the library purchased the Hildebrand Collection which included fourteen within the larger collection of more than 5600 books. An additional thirteen incunables arrived with the bequest of former Stanford professor of English, Ewald Flügel, after his death in 1914. Further gifts, bequests, and purchases over the last century have built the collection for which we are custodians today.


Systematic cataloging of the collection began in the 1960s under Rare Books Librarian Susan V. Lenkey, culminating in her publication Stanford Incunabula 1975: A Descriptive Catalog. This catalog provided a snapshot of the collection which, at the time, ran to 131 titles housed in Stanford Special Collections and the Lane Medical Library. In 2001, a finding aid was created from the library catalog records that included 178 titles, organized by Steven Mandeville-Gamble. This list provides another snapshot of the collection, allowing a chance to explore the library's acquisition approach to early books through the 1980s and 1990s.


This notable collection lists incunabula in Special Collections. To explore those items held at the Lane Medical Library, please search that catalog directly. In the future, we may be able to provide a unified list of Stanford incunables held across campus.

Related collections

Aldine printer's device

Aldine Collection

Books from the Aldine Press, founded in 1494 by Aldus Manutius and continued by his grandson, Aldo, until his death in 1597.


Benjamin L Albritton

Benjamin L. Albritton, Rare Books Curator
Rare Books Curator
Bibliographer for Classics


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