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West European Publications of the Sixteenth Century

The Library holds a large amount of foriegn publications from the sixteenth century, but the Rare Books Department has only a smaller part of them (numbering roughly 16 thousand items in total). The rest of the sixteenth-century items are dispersed within the general holdings of foriegn publications and have no separate catalogue.

The rich and varied collection reflects the diversity of items that were produced in the sixteenth century. It includes both mediaeval romances and current political materials, many of which became rare shortly after their publication. However, particularly noteworthy among the treasures of collection are about twenty Paris prayer books, printed in gothic lettering on parchment. These prayer books are notable for initials supplied by hand and coloured engraved illustration, placed before each section of a prayer book.

A number of books from the collection became more valuable because their fascinating history. Among these historic items is the famous Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (History of the Northern People), printed in Rome 1555 by Olaus Magnus. This copy of the work is notable both for its numerous beautiful illustrations and for hand-written notes by the celebrated poet of the Italian Renaissance, Torquato Tasso.

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