Manuscripts, Incunabula, Old prints

[Translate to English:] Handschrift der Bibliotheca Amploniana
Bibliotheca Amploniana More information
[Translate to English:] Erfurter Handschrift CE. 8° 28
Further manuscripts More details
[Translate to English:] Alte Drucke im SMAG
Incunabula and Old prints More information

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Bibliotheca Amploniana

In 2001, the refounded University of Erfurt took charge of the historical manuscript and book holdings of the City of Erfurt as a deposit. The core of the collection is the Bibliotheca Amploniana, developed at the end of the 14th century. Today it is considered the world's largest private collection of late medieval scholars. Individual texts, initiae as well as author and text identifications of the manuscripts of the Bibliotheca Amploniana were recorded in a first DFG-funded project between 2008 and 2013 and can be searched via the search screen of the Manuscripta Mediaevalia.

In addition to the Bibliotheca Amploniana, other manuscripts, printed books, bequests, files and archival materials, e.g. from the old University Library, the secularised Erfurt monasteries, from Erfurt associations, institutions and private individuals, were transferred to the Royal Prussian Library and, after 1908, to the Erfurt Public Library.

These historical holdings are kept in the special collection of Erfurt University Library , where they are systematically catalogued, conserved and provided to users in the special reading room.


Further manuscripts

Manuscripts of Erfurt, Codices Erfordenses

In addition to the Bibliotheca Amploniana, other manuscripts, bequests, files and archival materials from the old University Library, various Erfurt monasteries, associations, institutions and private individuals first came into the possession of the Royal Prussian Library in Erfurt. From 1908 onwards this library stock was in the possession of the City of Erfurt and was shelved separately from the Amploniana as so-called Codices Erfordenses (CE.).

In context of the transfer of the historical manuscript and book holdings of the City of Erfurt as a permanent loan to the University of Erfurt, individual parts were transferred to the Erfurt City Archive. The collection in the University Library today includes 514 volumes. The Codices Erfordense include 28 medieval manuscripts, which are listed online in a catalogue published in 2005. Apart from the 28 medieval manuscripts, the Codices Erfordenses are mainly from the 16th to the 20th century.

Particularly noteworthy are the genealogical books of noble families, four Hebrew scrolls, two South Indian palm leaf manuscripts and a Babylonian clay tablet. In addition, there are 82 historical library catalogues and the "Krafftsche Chronik", which was handed over as a deposit from private ownership in 2003. The modern codices of Erfordense are listed in a handwritten catalogue. The manuscripts are provided by appointment in the special reading room of the University Library.



Manuscript fragments

In addition to the manuscripts of the Bibliotheca Amploniana and the Codices Erfordenses, the University Library separately preserves more than 370 numbered manuscript fragments. The fragments come from the Codices Amploniani and Erfordenses, as well as and the incunabula and the historical prints of the 15th to the 18th century. The oldest piece can be dated to the 6th century. For some of the fragments there are short descriptions or references in the " ... Verzeichnis der Amplonianischen Handschriftensammlung zu Erfurt" by Wilhelm Schum (pages 953-956, 991-1008). In addition, there is a card catalogue of the manuscript fragments, which is arranged according to the signatures of the supporting volumes and contains information on the exact place of discovery, the descriptive material and the size. About one fifth of the fragments is recatalogued in an incomplete form. The fragments are provided by appointment in the special reading room of the University Library.


Music manuscripts

The music manuscripts of Erfurt University Library are listed in the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) (Bibliothekssigel D-EFU).


Incunabula and Old prints


In addition to manuscripts and historical prints from the 16th to the 19th centuries, the Erfurt University Library also preserves 639 volumes of incunabula. These early prints come from the Collegium Amplonianum, from former monastery libraries, from the old University Library and from the donation Philipp Wilhelm von Boineburg.

The incunabula can be found in the OPAC and the search engine Discovery and are provided in the special reading room of Erfurt University Library.

Erfurt book illustrations - from the beginnings to 1520

When Johannes Gutenberg printed his Bible around 1455 and thus initiated letterpress printing with movable letters, the printing of pictures - as woodcut or copperplate engraving - had already been common practice for several decades. While Gutenberg restricted himself to texts, Peter Pfister from Bamberg added woodcuts to his prints as early as 1460; a few years later a considerable number of the printed books were illustrated.

In 2019 Erfurt University Library started to digitize about 70 imprints from the 16th century and hopes to contunue this work in the future. Many of these illustrations wil be available for research for the first time.
However, up to now, especially for the period after 1500, there are only a few catalogues, which enable retrieval of book illustrations with a certain motif.

In order to give an example of the discoveries that such a catalogue can bring to light, images from Erfurt prints were systematically from the beginnings (the first illustrated print from Erfurt that can be dated well is an almanac for the year 1491) to the year 1520. Erfurt was well suited for this, as the prints produced here are still manageable in terms of quantity, but are thematically diverse (mainly university publications, German  fiction and devotional books).
The images have been catalogued in the Warburg Institute Iconographic Database; there, even unusual image themes can be easily located using a complex 'tree structure'.

Since this database currently offers few possibilities to search for individual printers, a directory of all identified Erfurt prints up to the year 1520 was created in addition as a PDF file. The links in the right-hand column lead to the image indexing in the Warburg Database, where the data sets are in turn linked to the digitised versions of the individual editions. The list contains a total of 437 editions, 233 of which are illustrated, of and 154 there were digitized or otherwise  reproduced. More than 750 pictures were added to the database.

Editor: Berthold Kreß PhD

Old prints

The approximately 45,000 old prints in the university library come from two permanent loans (deposit of the City of Erfurt; deposit of the former Ecclesiastical University of Naumburg).

The prints of the Depositum Erfurt come mainly from Erfurt's monastery and school libraries, from the Bibliotheca Amploniana, the libraries of two Kurmainz governors and from the library of the Old University (provenances). Also on permanent loan are funeral sermons of the 16th to the 18th centuriy on citizens of Erfurt and the Erfurt region and around 2,000 dissertations, mainly from the Old University of Erfurt.

A large part of the old prints is listed in the online catalogue and in the Discovery search engine. The catalogue references of the 17th century prints published in the german German-speaking area (VD17) also contain illustrations of key pages. The printed books of the 16th and the 18th century (VD16 and VD18) are currently being recorded online. In general, all old prints are listed in handwritten or card catalogs. They are provided in the special reading room of the University Library.

Erfurt book illustrations - from the beginnings to 1520

To the project
For more information, see Incunabula


Special catalogues

More information about catalogues of manuscripts, incunabula and old prints


Merkblatt für die Benutzung von historischem Buchbestand sowie sonstigen wertvollen Materialien der Universitätsbibliothek Erfurt --> übersetzen!

Order for reproductions

Application to use reproductions from special stocks