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How to Untangle Historic Libraries

Illuminating Collections through Inventories

Flavia Bruni

After the dissolution of religious orders in Italy in the 1860s, several collections that had belonged to religious houses were merged into those of public libraries. As a result, the provenance of each item is often uncertain. Based on the case-study of the former Servite cloister of San Pier Piccolo in Arezzo, this paper shows how inventories can prove helpful to identify books from a dispersed collection despite the absence of any clear ownership inscription.

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Lost Books

Reconstructing the Print World of Pre-Industrial Europe


Edited by Flavia Bruni and Andrew Pettegree

Questions of survival and loss bedevil the study of early printed books. Many early publications are not particularly rare, but others have disappeared altogether. This is clear not only from the improbably large number of books that survive in only one copy, but from many references in contemporary documents to books that cannot now be located. In this volume leading specialists in the field explore different aspects of this poorly understood aspect of book history: classes of texts particularly impacted by poor rates of survival; lost books revealed in contemporary lists or inventories; the collections of now dispersed libraries; deliberate and accidental destruction. A final section describes modern efforts at salvage and restitution following the devastation of the twentieth century.