Manuscripts and Incunabula
ULB Darmstadt holds almost 4.000 manuscripts from the Middle Ages and early modern period, more than 2.000 incunabula and over 100.000 historical prints from before 1800.
The holdings are from the early Middle Ages, late Middle Ages and early modern period (such as the two Nibelungen manuscripts). The instructional manuscripts comprise a large part of the collection: liturgical and prayer books from the theological field as well as legal and medical books. Illuminated manuscripts are very special, as they were usually commissioned.
Although most of the manuscripts are in Latin, there is a large quantity of others in German, mainly 15th century, and Middle Dutch manuscripts, which came from the Cologne collection of Baron Hüpsch. The occasional German commentary can be found in the Latin texts, and a number of fragments have survived.
Incunabula and historical prints
It was around 1450 that Johannes Gutenberg developed book printing some 40 kilometres from Darmstadt. The printed works created up to the end of 1500 are known as incunabula or cradle prints. This invention meant that publications could be brought to an extensive readership quickly, in large quantities and simultaneously. One of the challenges of this invention lay in replacing the artistically crafted manuscripts with prints of equal artistic value. The ULB holdings contain many examples of this book printing art.
Further research tools for the historical holdings
- Schleiermacher catalogues
The card catalogue is important for searching for holdings in the period 1500-1900. The catalogue in book form documents the losses due to war of the Darmstadt Library of Historical Prints after 1501.
(Andreas Schleiermacher 1811-1830 librarian responsible for the Grand Ducal Court Library)
- Catalogue of letters
Individual letters and correspondence from estates
- Catalogue of rare books
With special consideration of press prints, ordered by artist, press, print type, cover design, etc.
- Binding stamp file
Late-Gothic stamps, rolls and plates, by signature, motif and provenance
with over 740 rubbings from ULB holdings. Database
- Ex libris index
- Provenance index
- Büchner bibliography
The electronic reference work for Büchner literature and articles, essays etc. on and about Georg Büchner