Many editions within this Collection of 231 incunabula (books printed before 1501) are associated with early teachers and major benefactors of the University, including William Elphinstone (1431-1514), Bishop of Aberdeen and founder of King’s College; Hector Boece (c. 1465-1536), first Principal of King’s College; Dr James Melvin (1795-1853), Rector of Aberdeen Grammar School (1826-53) and John Vaus (c. 1484-c. 1539), first Humanist at King's College.

Keywords: Theology; law (canon); history; philosophy; classical literature; humanism

Strengths: The disciplines of theology, canon law, philosophy and history figure prominently in the Collection, though amongst other texts is a copy of the famous Hortus Sanitatis (Mainz, 1491). Most of the books, as would be expected, are the product of the presses of Continental Europe. The Collection includes a Caxton printing of The Golden Legend.

Languages:Latin, Greek, English

Identifier: Inc

Physical characteristics: 231 titles.

Accumulation date range: 1501-

Contents date range: c. 1469-c.1501

Associated Publications: Anderson, P. J., 'Unique Early Printed Books: Note', Aberdeen University Library Bulletin 6 (1927), 394. Johnstone, J. F. K., 'Scriptorum Aberdonensium incunabula', Scottish Notes and Queries, 1st series, X (1896-7), 1, 17, 33; XII (1898-9), 97, 125; 2nd series, VII (1905-6), 155. Macfarlane, Leslie J., 'William Elphinstone's Library', Aberdeen University Review XXXVII (1957-58), 253-71. Macfarlane, Leslie, J. 'William Elphinstone's Library Re-visited' The Renaissance in Scotland: Studies in Literature, Religion, History and Culture offered to John Durkan, (eds.) A. A. Macdonald, M. Lynch & I. B. Cowan (Leiden: Brill, 1994), 66-81. Menzies, Walter B. 'Some Early Law Books in Aberdeen University Library', Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Publications 15 (1932). Menzies, Walter B. & Oldham, J. B. (ed.), 'Some early bookbindings in the Aberdeen University Library', Aberdeen University Review XXV (1937-8), 215-21. Mitchell, William Smith, Notes on Three Incunabula in Aberdeen University Library (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1952). Mitchell, William Smith, Catalogue of the Incunabula in Aberdeen University Library (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1968). Available on Library OPAC or WebPAC

Accrual Status: Closed

Custodial history/provenance: The early seventeenth-century bequests which essentially founded the library of Marischal College contained a number of pre-1501 texts, including nine from the Common Library of New Aberdeen, and twelve from Thomas Reid, Latin Secretary to James VI and I. In the middle of the nineteenth century, no fewer than nineteen incunabula came to Marischal College from the library of Dr James Melvin (1795-1853), a noted classical scholar, and Rector of Aberdeen Grammar School.

Access Control: Closed access - please request. Non-borrowable.