Universiteit Leiden

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Early Printed and Rare Books

What we now call ‘early printed books’ used to be ‘modern’ works in former centuries.

Leiden University Library owns over 100.000 books printed before 1800. Since 1575, the Library acquired books in all the humanities and sciences taught by the University: theology, law, medicine and the ‘liberal arts’, i.e. philosophy, history, fine arts etc. The library actively continues this acquisition policy. We take special interest in books printed in Leiden and books written by Leiden professors.

The library also collects books printed after 1800 that are remarkable because of their design, a special binding, unique illustrations or interesting annotations. This applies also to entire collections with an added value: because they once belonged to an important scholar or author, have been collected around a special theme or have been produced by the same publishing company.


Search in the Catalogue for descriptions of printed editions or digital copies, for more general information about the collections they are part of (the collection guides), or for digital exhibitions. You can refine your search actions by year of publication, material type or language. Have a look in Digital Collections for digitized versions of printed books. 

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