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