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Art and Art History

Library databases and other research resources


This page was created by Monika Lehman to highlight some of the facsimiles available for use in SJSU Special Collections.  Some landmarks of printing and design history are available as high quality reproductions of the originals. 

Biblia Latina (the Gutenberg Bible)

The Biblia Latina, also known as the Gutenberg Bible,  is one of the most famous books in the world. Johannes Gutenberg changed the world when his moveable type printing press printed its first book, a Bible, in 1454 or 1455. Before books were printing using Gutenberg's press, books were either hand copied or printed using a technique called block printing which involves cutting every word of a book page into a wooden block, putting ink on that block and pressing it on to a page. Block printing was faster than copying books by hand but it still required a great deal of work.

The King Library has a facsimile of the Biblia Latina. It is also located in Special Collections on the 5th floor.




Le chavalier delibere

Le Chavalier Delibere, written by Olivier de la Marche, was published in 1483. Le Chavalier Delibere is part of a larger work known as Memoirs which include descriptions of parties and tournaments of the time. Scholars speculate whether this work, which is translated as "the resolute knight" in English, is autobiographical or an allegory of the life of Charles the Bold.

The King Library has a facsimile of a wood cut edition that is written in French. You can look at this edition in Special Collections on the 5th floor. 





The Vernon Manuscript

The Vernon manuscript is an oversized folio located in Special Collections. It contains 370 texts of poetry and prose. It is written entirely in English. The manuscript was published in the late 14th century. It is one of the largest books created at the time. Historians do not know who commissioned it and what type of readers it was created for. Most of the texts included are on religious subjects.


How to search for facsimiles

Here are some subject headings that may help you get started on your search for facsimiles. You can always play around within these subjects. For example, instead of searching for early printed books-- 16th century, you can try 17th or 18th century as well. 

  • Incunabula -- Facsimiles
  • Rare books 
  • Early printed books -- 16th century
  • Manuscripts, English (Middle) -- Facsimiles
  • Manuscripts, Latin (Medieval and modern) -- Facsimiles
  • Manuscripts -- Facsimiles.

Masters of the italic letter : twenty-two exemplars from the sixteenth century

Masters of the italic letter : twenty-two exemplars from the sixteenth century by Kate Atkins is a facsimile which consists of different examples of the Italic letter. If you are interested in history of penmanship or want to see the evolution of writing, this book is a great resource. Out of all of the facsimiles featured on this page, this book is available on the 8th floor. 


The Hours of Marie deʼ Medici

The Hours of Marie de' Medici is a full colored facsimile. The manuscript is also known as the Flemish book of Hours of Marie de Medici. It may have belonged to Marie de Medici and it was most likely commissioned between 1515 and 1520 by a wealthy female patron in Ghent or Bruges and was illuminated by an anonymous artist known today as the Master of the David Scenes in the Grimani Breviary.