Materializing the Immaterial. Recovering the Lost Books of Early Modern Europe

The importance of lost books, editions where no copy has yet been identified, has long been recognised by book historians. Bibliographies concerned with a single printer, the works of a single author or a particular place of publication regularly record contemporary references to works that cannot now be located. But historians of the book have been more hesitant in applying this approach to the analysis of the early modern print world as a whole. In a St Andrews conference, subsequently published as Lost Books (2016), we explored a diverse range of methods for identifying lost books, ranging from mathematical modelling to the analysis of manuscript booklists, with a special concentration on genres of print, particularly susceptible to loss, including, but not exclusively, broadsheets, forms other forms of printed ephemera. In this presentation we review our own contribution to the recovery of lost books, and the essential role these previously unrecognised items played in sustaining the publishing industry, particularly outside the major centres of production, between 1450 and 1700.

Chair: Sandra Toffolo, FBK-ISIG

Scientific coordination:
Massimo Rospocher, FBK-ISIG
Sandra Toffolo, FBK-ISIG
Enrico Valseriati, FBK-ISIG


Cycle of seminars: “Early Modern History Round Table


The event will be held in English

The presentation will take place online

To connect to the event, registration is required by Wednesday 9 March 2022 at 11.59 pm

During the meeting, the webcam and microphone will be disabled to avoid network overloads



  • Andrew Pettegree - Guest Speaker
    University of St Andrews
    Andrew Pettegree, FBA, is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He is the author of over a dozen books in the fields of Reformation history and the history of communication, including 'Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion', 'The Book in the Renaissance', 'The Invention of News', 'Brand Luther: 1517, Print and the Making of the Reformation', and, most recently, 'The Library: A Fragile History.'
  • Arthur der Weduwen - Guest Speaker
    University of St Andrews
    Arthur der Weduwen is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of St Andrews and Deputy Director of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. He has edited a volume on book catalogues in early modern Europe (Brill, 2021), and is the author of five books, including 'Dutch and Flemish Newspapers of the Seventeenth Century' (2 vols., Brill, 2017), 'The Bookshop of the World. Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age' (with Andrew Pettegree, Yale UP, 2019), and most recently, 'The Library: A Fragile History' (also with Andrew Pettegree, Profile / Basic Books, 2021).


Registration to this event is mandatory.

Registration closed on 09/03/2022.



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