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University Library
Catalogue Website

Early printed books

Early printed books are ...

… books printed from 1 January 1501 until the start of industrial production (around 1830).

Our collection of early printed books

  • Approximately 60,000 volumes
  • Origin: old book collections from the University Library since its foundation in 1619 and smaller collections acquired in full (such as the Horn collection)
  • Around 2,200 rarissima (particularly valuable and rare books)

How are early printed books indexed?

Most of our early printed books can now be found in the University Library electronic catalogue. For a complete overview, you will need to consult the microfiche catalogue. If you need any help just let us know! There are also special directories with extensive information on works produced in a specific period and/or region:

  • VD 16 (German-speaking region, 16th century
  • VD 17 German-speaking region, 17th century)
  • VD 18 German-speaking region, 18th century)
  • EDIT 16 (Italy, 16th century
  • ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue, English-speaking region, 1473–1800)

How can early printed books be used?

Most of our early printed books can be requested via the catalogue. They will be made available to you for four weeks in the special collections reading room. We will ask you to fill out an application form to use particularly valuable and rare prints, so please make sure to bring your ID or passport.

Also note that:

It’s worth searching the internet too – digital versions of many early printed books are now freely available online.