Adopt a Book


Incunable, by Nicolaus Panormitanus de Tudeschis, 1480Incunable
by Nicolaus Panormitanus de Tudeschis, 1480

The oldest book in Exeter Library’s Special Collections Archive is an Incunable (a book that was printed rather than being hand written before the year 1501 in Europe). The printed text was designed to look as much as possible like handwriting, such was the value placed on hand-produced books at this time. There is a note included inside the book that informs readers that the book, written in Latin, is on the subject of moral and church law.

Nicolaus Panormitanus de Tudeschis was a Benedictine monk born in Sicily in 1386, this book is one of 80 copies worldwide that survives of his work

The condition of this book is relatively good considering its age and the journey it will have been on over the years, however, its leather binding has deteriorated completely leaving just the wooden board covers. The spine and sewing bands are also completely exposed, which mean that it may be vulnerable to damage if measures are not taken to protect it. Although not looking to restore this book to its original state and undermine the history and story of the book through its many years, the Adopt a Book scheme hopes to fund the construction of a bespoke protective display box that will ensure that the Incunable is kept safe and secure and will allow many more generations of library customers to enjoy this important aspect of Exeter Library’s heritage.

Restoration work funded by John Martyn

Work on this, the oldest book in the Special Collections Archive, has been undertaken to repair the sewing bands, re-sew the broken binding and clean and 'feed' the wooden covers.

In addition, a bespoke presentation box has been created. The box protects the Incunable, cushioning it on all sides and ensuring that it is properly protected from external damage.

These measures have ensured that this treasure of Exeter's literary heritage is now protected and can safely be exhibited and enjoyed for many years to come.

Amount funded £250


Incunable    Incunable


Incunable - restored    Incunable - restored