The French Vernacular Book project started over twelve years ago and its goal was to identify all books printed in French prior to 1601.The first fruits of these twelve years of research was published by Brill in Leiden in November 2007. Two large in-folio volumes present a first Short title Catalogue of just under 52,000 bibliographically distinct items. This catalogue is based on research on the collections of over 1650 different libraries throughout the world. In all we have identified some 180,000 copies of which over 100,000 copies were manually inspected and described by a member of the project team.
A World Wide Search
The French Vernacular Book project cast its net very widely. As well as gathering data from over 450 libraries in France, the project group has incorporated material from every significant collection around the world. Major collections of French books have been discovered in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia, as well as in Britain and the United States. In all the French Vernacular Book project includes data from over 1600 libraries worldwide. The result has been the discovery of many previously unknown titles and editions. Many of these little books are very rare. Around 40% of the books listed in the project survive in only one copy, many of them in small collections outside France. In all, 35% of the books listed survive only in collections outside France.
History of the French Book Project
The St Andrews French Book Project was established in 1997 by Professor Andrew Pettegree. Initially conceived as the French Religious Book Project, the decision was taken in 2001 to expand the terms of reference to include ALL books. In an age dominated by religious conflict and civil war, the distinction between religious and non-religious works proved to be difficult to maintain. Moreover, the prospect of being able to compile a full STC proved to be fully realisable. From the 1920s onwards, scholars of British history have had at their disposal the Short Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland. There has been no comparable project to catalogue books published in France, where bibliographic studies have concentrated on individual centres of production or on particular themes or authors. The St Andrews Project filled this gap.
French Vernacular Books (FB), was completed in Summer 2007 and the bibliography may be purchased by visiting the Brill website or by following this link: http://brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=27730
Andrew Pettegree, Malcolm Walsby and Alexander Wilkinson (eds.), French Vernacular Books (FB): Books Published in the French Language before 1601. 2 vols. (Brill, Leiden, 2007) ISBN: 978-90-04-15687