Reading Copy-Specific Features: Producers, Readers and Owners of Incunabula

Conference on 30 June-1 July 2015 at the CTS, De Montfort University

Printing technology spread all over Europe shortly after its invention in the 1450s, and yet manuscript culture continued to thrive in the incunabula period and beyond. Scribes and printers both used manuscripts and printed books in order to produce new copies, while early book owners often assembled and bound manuscript and print material together, resulting in the production of hybrid books. The incunabulum was a product of hand-craftsmen at various stages, and each copy, even of the same edition, has its own unique history of over 500 years. Recent studies of copy-specific information in incunabula have revealed the close relationship among producers, readers and owners.

The objective of this conference is two-fold: to disseminate advanced research of copy-specific features and to facilitate further collaboration of scholarship and integration of data. In this conference, copy specifics are broadly defined as all the 'marks' found in individual copies: the collation, the distribution of paper-stock, stop-press correction variants, hand-decorations, binding, unintentional damages such as worm-holes, traces of censorship, and intentional marks left by readers and both individual and institutional owners.


Both delegates and speakers need to register by following the link on the left as soon as possible to ensure attendance. Due to the size of room for the event, there is a strict limit on the number of delegates, and registration will be first-come-first-served. The link takes payment for registration for the conference. Registration includes tea/coffee, two lunches, and wine reception on 30 June. The link also gives you the option of signing up, separately, for the conference dinner on 30 June. The cost of the dinner covers a three-course meal but not drinks. Guest will be asked to buy their own drinks at the bar.

Conference programme

The draft programme is linked on the left. The pre-conference visit to the University of Leicester Library (optional) will start at 10.30am on Tuesday 30 June. The registration (light lunch will be provided) will be from 12noon to 1pm on Tuesday 30 June, and the conference will close at 5pm on Wednesday 1 July.

Plenary speakers: Lotte Hellinga (Former Deputy Keeper, the British Library) and David Pearson (Director, Culture, Heritage and Libraries at City of London).

Invited speakers: Cristina Dondi, Kate Loveman, Laura Nuvoloni, Ed Potten and Satoko Tokunaga.

Round Table discussion led by Kristian Jensen (Head of Arts and Humanities, the British Library).

Launch of 'Caxton and Beyond: Copy-Specific Material of English Incunabula', an online interface created by Takako Kato and Satoko Tokunaga.

Visit to the Special Collections in the University of Leicester Library to consult incunabula (optional).


The conference will be held at Trinity House of De Montfort University at 18 The Newarke, Leicester, LE2 7GZ (no. 37 on the campus-map in the left navigation bar), which is 15 minutes' walk from the Leicester train station .

The optional visit to the Special Collections to consult incunabula will be held in the University of Leicester Library (University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH).


The conference is generously supported by:

MHRA logo

DMU-RIF logo


The Bibliographical Society

The Caxton and Beyond is funded by the Bibliographical Society’s Katharine F. Pantzer Jr Research Fellowship. The conference committee comprises: Takako Kato (De Montfort University, Chair), Gabriel Egan (De Montfort University) and Satoko Tokunaga (Keio University).