The 1472 edition of Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis, printed by Nicholas Jenson, is one of the highlights of the Cole Library held at the University of Reading Special Collections.
This month’s Featured Item on the Special Collections website takes a closer look at this extraordinary publication.
Pliny’s work, which takes the form of an encyclopaedia, was originally composed and written in classical Latin around AD 70, and was divided into thirty-seven books. It is very broad in scope and includes all sorts of facts, observations and myths relating to the world and man, on subjects such as astronomy, beekeeping, taxidermy and conception.
This 1472 edition of Pliny’s masterpiece is the second oldest printed book in the University of Reading’s rare book collections, and one of twelve examples of incunabula or early printed books held by the University. It has one illuminated page and thirty-seven illuminated initial letters, and is rubricated in red and blue around text. The book was printed in Venice by Nicholas Jenson (c. 1420-1480), an influential type founder, punch cutter, printer and publisher, and is considered one of the highest achievements of printing during the Renaissance.
For more information on the Cole Library and how to view the collections for yourself, see the Cole Library webpage.