Book Auctioning in the Dutch Republic, 1599 - ca. 1800
Book Sales Catalogues Online (BSCO) offers a comprehensive bibliography of book sales catalogues printed in the Dutch Republic before 1801. A sophisticated search menu provides access to some 3,750 digital facsimiles from ca. 50 libraries across Europe, including major collections in the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, France, and Russia. More catalogues will be added in the future. These catalogues are a key primary source for research on the history of the book and libraries, the history of ideas, the history of collecting, the history of literature, and the history of art. They contain information on books from all over Europe in various languages, such as Dutch, French, and Latin.
The early seventeenth century witnessed the sudden rise of the Dutch Republic as focal point of the European book trade. Venice and Antwerp had ceased to play their parts; Germany was shattered by the Thirty Years' War; The British Isles and the Scandinavian and Iberian Peninsulas were peripheral; centralism and censorship were crushing France's native genius. Books prohibited there and elsewhere were published or offered for sale in Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague, and Rotterdam. Dutch booksellers and publishers became the most productive and most versatile of their time, with permanent agents in the book centers of other countries. This condition lasted, without much challenge, for a century and a half.
The printed auction catalogue was a late sixteenth century Dutch innovation that led to the rapid development of a flourishing auction system. In Leiden in particular, large scholarly libraries of international repute were auctioned; Amsterdam was known for the auctions of the stocks of the major booksellers; and, especially in the early part of the eighteenth century, numerous private libraries of high-ranking officials, foreign ambassadors, and other collectors of valuable libraries were shipped to The Hague to be sold in auctions. Dutch scholars, divines, members of the professions, merchants and magistrates assembled relatively large libraries, and the printed auction catalogues of these collections were used in the Republic of Letters as models, bibliographic reference tools, and guides for tracing the best books in the handsomest editions.
At the end of the sixteenth century the first auction catalogue of a scholar’s library was printed in the newborn Dutch Republic. This catalogue has rightly been regarded as an important innovation in international book trade, because this type of catalogue was soon to be printed and distributed all over Europe. In the seventeenth century the most important auction towns in Holland were Amsterdam, Leiden and The Hague. Thousands of auction catalogues have been printed here. No wonder Holland was called ‘The Bookshop of the World’.
The Dutch Republic was the greatest 'clearing-house of European print' in the seventeenth century, and it remained extremely significant during the following century. Complete 'freedom of the press' was still an unknown concept, but in the Dutch Republic censorship was fairly limited compared to many other European countries. Non-Dutch authors were able to publish their books in the Republic, and Dutch book publishers and traders issued translations of works in Latin and European languages that challenged traditional scientific, social, and political conventions. Many of these works had a profound influence on European history and culture.
Contents of book sales catalogues are not limited to printed objects; often they also include scientific instruments, art objects, and all sorts of 'curiosities'.
Book Sales Catalogues as Sources Auction catalogues are indispensable sources for research on:
The history of the book Catalogues prepared for an auction of a publisher's wholesale stock provide information about the titles published and distributed by him. Booksellers’ stock catalogues and stock-auction catalogues give a picture of the books present in a bookstore at a given time. Like the catalogues of private libraries, they repeatedly list books which have since disappeared. Auction catalogues contain information about the provenance of manuscripts and unique copies of printed books.
The history of libraries Few records of important private libraries of the past have been preserved. Interest in book ownership in early modern times is increasing, and with it the demand for historic auction catalogues.
The history of ideas and literature More than any other source, sales catalogues offer the possibility to determine to what extent books circulated.
The history of art Combined book and art auctions were common. Auction catalogues often list not only drawings and prints but also feature sections on paintings as well as coin and medal collections.
The Revealing Hand-Written Notes of an Early Modern Polymath
• Number of titles: 70 • Languages used: Latin • Title list available • MARC records are available •
Location of originals: Zentralbibliothek Zürich; Universitätsbibliothek Basel This source edition of Gessner’s private library contains those seventy eight books that Gessner read most carefully and annotated by hand. The majority have been reproduced from the rich holdings of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, while other important copies included in this edition are held by the University Library of Basle. The marginalia in these books are so numerous that they almost constitute a new set of sources, which are of interest not only to historians and philologists but also to those who study the history of early modern medicine and the natural sciences.
The Knuttel Collection: 1486-1853 and Van Alphen Collection: 1542-1853
The Knuttel Collection: 1486-1853 • Number of titles: 33,487
• Languages used: primarily Dutch but also French, German, Latin and English
Location of originals: the National Library of the Netherlands
Knuttel Collection at the National Library of the Netherlands, is the most extensive pamphlet collection in the Netherlands. The thousands of pamphlets presented here constitute an essential source for understanding these tumultuous periods of history. They range from political apologies and manifestoes to tracts for and against predestination in theology.
The Van Alphen Collection: 1542-1853 • Number of titles: 2,779
• Languages used: primarily Dutch but also French, German, Latin and English
Location of originals: University Library, Groningen
Van Alphen Collection (University Library, Groningen) supplements the
Knuttel Collection. The core of the collection is formed by four large acquisitions: 27 vols., collected by the Counter Reformist preacher Willem Crijnsz, were acquired in 1751. Another 59 vols. contain 1253 pamphlets from the period 1617-1760. 95 Vols. contain political tracts concerning the differences between England and the Dutch Republic and the troubles in the Republic. 43 Vols. contain pamphlets from the 17th and early 18th century.
• Number of titles: 62
• Languages used: Arabic, Latin, German, French, English, Dutch, Hebrew
• Title list available
• MARC records are available
Location of originals: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich; Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart; Amsterdam University Library, Amsterdam; Provincia Veneta di S. Antonio di Padova dei Frati Minori, Venice; Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen- Nürnberg, Erlangen; Universitätsbibliothek München. Munich; Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Zurich
This collection contains all Arabic Koran editions printed in Europe before 1850, as well as all complete translations directly from the Arabic (until about 1860). Among the secondary translations, only those into German and Dutch are offered completely. Of the partial editions, only the typographically or academically most interesting ones are presented here. This collection includes Korans and Koran translations in eight languages. It is of interest to orientalists, theologians, philologists and book historians alike.
The Incunable Collection of the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart
• Number of titles: 212 • Languages used: Italian and Latin • Title list available • MARC records are available •
Location of originals: Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) was among the first authors of the late 15th century to acknowledge the importance of printing as a means of propagating his ideas. Many regard him as one of Luther’s predecessors. The rise of Florentine book illustrations is also closely linked with the dissemination of Savonarola’s writings, since most contemporary editions feature at least one woodcut. This edition contains the complete incunabular section of the Stuttgart collection, offering over 200 incunables of interest to theologians, historians, art historians, and book historians.
Lithographed Editions of Firdawsī’s Shāhnāmah is a collection of extremely rare and illustrated lithographed editions of the famous Persian epic
The Book of Kings by Firdawsī. The
Shāhnāmah was completed at the beginning of the eleventh century C.E. and it is both a monument of classical Persian literature and of Iranian national identity. Scholarly research on the work has mainly focused on the establishment of a faithful and reliable text. However, there are numerous “Oriental” editions that have received little attention. It has never been thoroughly studied how many of these different editions exist or what the exact nature of the known editions is. The first complete edition of the
Shāhnāmah was printed in movable type. It was prepared by Turner Macan and published in four volumes in Calcutta, 1829. Besides this editio princeps, further nineteenth century editions in movable type were published by by Jules Mohl (Paris 1838-1878) and Johann August Vullers (Leiden 1877-1879), respectively. The vast majority of "Oriental" editions of the
Shāhnāmah, however, were printed by way of lithography. The first lithographed edition was published in Bombay 1262/1846, another further thirty lithographed editions of the
Shāhnāmah followed, most of them published in Indian cities such as Bombay, Lucknow, and Cawnpore. Five large-sized lithographed editions were published in Iran by order of Husayn Pāshā Khān Amīr Bahādur, known as
Shāhnāmah-yi Bahādurī (Tehran 1319-1322/1901-1904). The lithographed
Shāhnāmah editions have distinct characteristics that are particularly relevant to the the study of the growing appreciation of the work in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. First of all, each copy of an edition is potentially unique due to the specific circumstances of lithographic printing. Secondly, various editions might have different wording and might thus offer additional clues to the establishment of the text itself. Thirdly, all
Shāhnāmah's lithographed editions contain illustrations adding to their popular appeal. The present collection offers the complete text of thirteen lithographed editions of the
Shāhnāmah. It includes the Indian Bombay editions of 1262/1846 and 1266/1849, as well as the first Iranian edition Tehran 1265-67/1851-53 and all four of the ensuing editions published in Iran and also a selection of eight Indian editions published in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Beyond their importance as historically produced texts, some editions are noteworthy for their calligraphy, such as the 1277/1855 Bombay edition prepared by Awliyā' Samī', or the 1307/1889 Tehran edition prepared by Muhammad-Ridā Safā "Sultān al-kuttāb". Particularly the illustrations in the Iranian editions are quite appealing and have been produced by major artists of the day such as Mirzā 'Alī-Qolī Khu'ī (Tehran 1265-67/1851-53), Ustād Sattār (Tabriz 1275/1858), and Mustafà (Tehran 1307/1889).
Sixteenth Century Pamphlets Online / Flugschriften Online series contains some 11,000 German and Latin pamphlets printed in the Holy Roman Empire.
The pamphlets from 1501-1530 are primarily concerned with the early Reformation movement and its propaganda, the Peasants' War, the threat presented by the Turks, and the various conflicts among the Western European countries.
The pamphlets from 1531-1600 deal with a broad spectrum of themes, such as the Turkish wars, the revolt of the Netherlands, the persecution of French protestants, the status of Calvinists and Zwinglians in the Holy Roman Empire, the Council of Trent, the Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster, the Schmalkaldic War and the Interim, propaganda against the papacy and the Jesuits, intra-Protestant theological quarrels, the building of confessional networks, witch-hunting, and anti-Jewish polemics.
• Number of titles: 654 • Languages used: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Russian, Dutch, German and Portuguese • Title list and printed guide are available •
Location of originals: Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London This new online collection comprises a descriptive, annotated bibliography of 654 early Western books on Imperial China up to 1850, all to be found in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. The collection is based on the book Western Books on China published up to 1850 by John Lust. The material is of unique historical interest, containing a scrutiny of China by Western societies.. The books, in a variety of Western languages, testify to the formidable difficulties encountered by Westerners, who attempted to extend their own familiar historical, linguistic and religious perceptions to the Chinese context.