Collection characterization

NCU Library Old prints Collection has nearly 53 412 bibliographical items in 39 707 volumes (data for December 2002), books published from the 15th to the end of the 18th century. NCU Library has 137 items in 104 volumes Incunabula. So called, the protected-collection, which originates from Pomerania, Warmia, Masuria and Powisle regions make the basis of this collection.

Until 2001 the books with the Elbląg (Elbing) provenance (from Elbląg gymnasium and public libraries), which since 1947 had been collected in NCU Library in Toruń with the status of long-term rights deposit used to make the largest part of the basic old prints collection. At present it is collected at K.C. Norwid Elbląg Public Library at Świętego Ducha 3-7 Street. These are 8 657 volumes of old prints sent back to Elbląg from NCU Library. Unfortunately, searching the National Library Special Collections catalogues the reader can still find the wrong information about their location. A person concerned should ask a librarian on duty at NCU Library to check their location (by telephone or e-mail).

Today the collection with the former Public and University Library in Królewiec (Königsberg) provenance make the largest part of this collection, which was brought to Toruń from Pasłęk (Preuöisch Holland) where the Germans deposited during the last stage of World War II. The above-mentioned collection makes the most spectacular part of our old prints collection. Enough to mention 12 books of the Silver Collection, which belonged to the Silver Library of Duke Abert Hohenzollern (Duke of Prussia) and his second wife Princess Anna Maria as well as Princess Dorothea's (Duke Albert first wife's) prayer book with a unique cover, printed on parchment with hand illuminations etc. Albert, Duke of Prussia had a huge library called Kammerbibliothek and was a funder of Bibliotheca Nova called also (Schlossbibliothek) founded for the University of Königsberg. NCU Library in Torun has the items from both libraries in its holdings.

All the fields of that time knowledge are represented in the books of old prints collection. The majority of the collection consists of religious writings of Protestant theologians (Luther, Melanchton). We have the scientific editions of "De humani corporis fabrica" by A. Vesalius, Bazylea 1555, so much representative for the old times. By virtue of the connection to the patron of our University, the Library is a proud owner of "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri VI" by Nicolaus Copernicus (university patron) first edition from Nuernberg, 1543 and the second edition from Basel, 1566 as well as the Narratio prima and Dialogues, originl title "Dialogo doue ne i congressi di quattro giornate si discorre sopra i due massini sistemi del mondo Tolemaico e Copernicano ..." by Galileo Galilei (Florence, 1632).

There is a very rare first edition of the chronicle of Maciej of Miechow "Chronica Polonorum", Cracow 1519. We also have world-unique incunabulum "Passien - Buchlein" [Malbork, Iac. Karweyse, ca 1492]; the first book printed in Lithuanian "Katekizmas" (Catechismus) worked out by Martynas Mažvydas published in Königsberg in 1547; A hymn book by Walenty from Brzozów also published in Königsberg in 1554, and many more items. Most of the books are in good condition with original old epoch covers. Apart from the above-mentioned precious books from Duke Albert's Bibliotheca, we also have particularly valuable bindings from the famous bibliophil collections of inter alia J. Groliera, of Polish Kings Zigismundus Augustus and Stanislavus Leszczynski collections with the Royal ex-libris.

NCU Library has various books from well-known European, especially German publishing houses. The Library used to acquire old prints and still does by purchasing at second-hand, antique and old bookshops. Books collections concerning the subjects of pomeranica, toruniensia, vilnensia, copernicana, baltica are the priority for the Library's acquisition policy and financial possibilities.

Manuscripts Collection consists of over 5 thousand items. It covers medieval as well as moderm and the latest manuscripts and documents mainly from the historical areas of Northern Poland from Szczecin to Wilno (Vilnius) and Królewiec (Königsberg). Modern manuscripts prevail, especially those written in Latin, German, Polish and few in European and oriental languages.

Most precious items are richly illuminated: medieval parchment codes and the Persian paper manuscript 'Divan' by Hafiz originating from the former National and University Library in Królewiec (Staats und Universitätsbibliothek Königsberg). We store in our holdings 67 medieval codes originating from the above-mentioned library.

16th Century Manuscript 'Divan' by Hafiz - a Persian manuscript - is one from only just few in Poland so richly ornamented ones. Except this Persian manuscript we also have very precious medieval manuscripts of the Królewiec provenance. One of them is richly illuminated Rules and Statutes of the Teutonic Nights the only item written in both German and French. We also keep two richly illuminated German Apocalypses by Heinrich Hesler. Except these two above-mentioned, only one more such item in the world contains illuminations. Important for the history of European culture is also the second oldest copy of The Chronicle of Prussian Land by Nikolaus von Jeroschin.We also house the oldest hand-written fragment of the sermon in Magyar - the oldest suchlike Magyar written text called the Königsberg Fragment. Among from Latin manuscripts a unique one is certainly a Roman minuscule Bible with spectacular illuminations so called The Holy Bible of the Radziwiłł Family, which originates from 12th century. With the very large popularity among readers, available free in the Kujawsko Pomorska Digital Library, is the manuscript by Johannes Hennenberger Stemmata genealogica praecipuarum in Prussia Familiarum Nobilium.

Manuscripts coming from Polish and German libraries, from the areas of Eastern and Western Pomerania as well as Warmia and Mazuria before World War II, belong to a common Polish-German heritage. One ought here to mention especially collections from: Królewiec Library called Königliche Preussische Pommersche Generallandschafts Direction (mainly works concerning the history of Western Pomerania and towns in West Pomerania of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries), Bibliotheca Gymnasii Paleo - Sedinensis in Szczecin, Mariacka Library in Stargard Szczeciński - especially 15th century codes: 'Golden Legend' by Jacob de Voragine and the New Testament, Gymnasium Library in Chełmno (the 18th century theological treaties), Gymnasium Library in Chojnice especially taking into account the parchment prayer-book of the Chełmno bishop from the end of the 14th century, Doenhof and Schwerin families' archives, Sczaniecki family collection from Nawra, E. Puttkamer's collection from Pansin (current name Pęzino from Zachodniopomorskie region),Wilhelm Bismarck's collection from Warcin and manuscripts of Evangelical community from Torun.

The latest group of items in our manuscripts collection make the heritages of professors and researchers connected with the Nicolaus Copernicus University previously associated with Stefan Batory University in Vilnius: historians such as Karol Górski, Marian Gumowski, Kazimierz Hartleb, Ryszard Mienicki and Krzysztof Mosingiewicz, philosophers such as Tadeusz Czeżowski, Henryk Elzenberg, a classical philologist Stefan Srebrny, a Polish literature historian Artur Hutnikiewicz, an orientalist Eugeniusz Słuszkiewicz, an art historian Jadwiga Puciata-Pawłowska, an architect Stefan Narębski, a lawyer Jerzy Śliwowski, a couple of biologists Wanda and Jan Zabłocki, neurophysiologist Janina Hurynowicz as well as a chemist Witold Zacharewicz.

Doctoral dissertations, after defense and written for Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, are a separate category of manuscripts collection.