Index Possessorum Incunabulorum

    Paul Needham:

    Index Possessorum Incunabulorum (IPI)

    While CERL is working towards the full integration of IPI data into the CERL Thesaurus, this full-text search has been made available.


    IPI contains some 32,000 entries of personal names, institutional names, monograms, and arms pertaining to the ownership of incunabula. They were extracted by Paul Needham from some 200 published catalogues of incunabula with provenance information, augmented with information from his personal research, and placed in a word file of some 1,267 pages or 500,565 words. The version offered here dates to March 2010. Of course most of these entries are of relevance to provenance research on manuscripts and later printed books as well, as these characters owned and collected books of many periods, not just incunabula.

    We are very grateful to Paul Needham, Scheide Librarian, Scheide Library, Princeton University Library, for letting CERL make available to the public his extraordinary tool for provenance research.

    Structure of the Entries:

    Entries contain dates, biographical information, bibliographical information such as reference to library, sale, or auction catalogues. Finally, a list of incunabula owned by the character in question in the form of an abbreviated name of the catalogue (whose full reference can be found in the IPI Bibliography) and the catalogue number or page; for example: "BMC V 348" refers to the British Museum catalogue of incunabula, volume 5 page 348. The IPI Bibliography, here provided as a PDF file, contains, in alphabetical order by abbreviated reference, bio-bibliographical reference works as well as catalogues of incunabula.

    How to search:

    • Personal names: [surname], [name]; example: "Zell, Wolfgangus"

    • Monograms: [letter][space] [letter]; example: "A L"

    • Institutional names: just the name of the place where the institution is, then scroll down the entry which offers all known institutions within that place; example: "Aachen", the record will list Cathedral, religious orders, etc. within the city.

    Right truncation is available by adding a "*" to the end of a search term.