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Subject guide

Rare Books

Some books have particular features such as design, unique illustrations and descriptive annotations. These features can be of interest for specific research.

As rare books we consider post-1800 books:

  • produced with a special design (such as the ‘Nieuwe Kunst’ Collection, i.e. Dutch book design ca. 1898-1910, or bibliophile editions).
  • produced as an entity (the fund of the Haarlem publishing company De Erven F. Bohn, the works of the novelist Frans Kellendonk).
  • with a special binding, with interesting notes (libri annotati) or a unique illustration (for instance by C.A.B. Bantzinger)
  • collected by important authors or scholars (Menno ter Braak, Johan Huizinga, E.M. Meijers)
  • collected on specified subjects.
  • Books printed in Leiden
  • Publications by Leiden professors
  • Theses of Leiden University
  • Ephemeral printed works
  • Printed sources regarding Dutch linguistics and literature
  • Printed sources regarding the history of the Netherlands (especially the Eighty Years War)
  • History of Protestantism.

Online Catalogue and Digital Special Collections

The online catalogus offers among other things:

  • records of printed works obtained by Leiden University Library, for instance ca. 28.000 rare books present in the strong room of the University Library.
  • collection guides: records with information on separate collections containing rare books, for example:
    Bibliothèque Wallonne (Walloon Churches in the Netherlands). – D. Bierens de Haan (1822-1895), mathematician. – J.C. Bloem (1887-1966), poet. – G.J. Boekenoogen (1868-1930), folklorist. – De Erven F. Bohn, publishing company. – W.G.C. Byvanck (1848-1925), man of letters. – Ephemeral printing. – R.J. Fruin (1823-1899), historian.  – D. de Jong (1910-1974), collector of illegally printed works in the Netherlands during WW II. – Frans Kellendonk (1951-1991), man of letters. – Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde. – E.M. Meijers (1880-1954), jurist. – Dutch Reformed Church. – Remonstrant Seminary. – M. Rijke (1859-1931), jurist. – Thorbecke-Stichting (on law and politics). – C.P. Tiele (1830-1902), theologian;
  • records of digitized versions of printed works held by Leiden University Library, as  chapbooks (Boekenoogen Collection), illegally printed works, 1940-1945 (De Jong Collection), and ephemeral printed works (selection); click the link View Online to have a look at them in Digital Collections.

Printed Catalogues

In the course of time many catalogues have been realized. You find them all together in a separate collection guide: Catalogues of the Holdings of Leiden University Libraries. Here about four hundred printed publications are offered, divided in chapters (A-S), and with links to the copies on paper or digitized versions.

Originally the printed works were described together with the manuscripts in a number of general catalogues (A 1-A 9), representing the entire collection of the Library. These catalogues are a first aid to examine when a rare book was obtained by the Library. Since the nineteenth century the collections of the Library are described in separate catalogues (for the prints see E 1 - E 28, and M-P for the collections on loan).

Library Archives and Reference Library

More information about the acquisition and provenance of rare books may be found in the archives of the Library. Consult the collection guides Archief Universiteitsbibliotheek (sections A, C, G, J, L en V) and Archief van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (section B, and supplement B 212-215). Especially the there indicated journals and acquisition lists are important sources, next to the printed library catalogues.

In the Special Collections Reference Library: Text (second floor, entrance 4, to the right) you will find periodicals, reference works, bibliographies and catalogues regarding western and oriental manuscripts and books. The publications are stored according to the Library of Congress Classification. The LCC-shelfmarks in the catalogues and on the back of the books all start with: “II-4”. Important subjects:

  • Literature on the history of the production and distribution of the printed book (Z116-659) and libraries in general (Z772-1000.5);
  • Bibliographies regarding the printed book: general (Z1001-1121), by country (Z1201-4980).

Internet Selection

  • Picarta – Rare books from almost all Dutch public libraries, as part of the Dutch Central Catalogue (NCC). Only accessible to Leiden users with a ULCN-account.
  • WorldCat — Online catalogue on more then 50.000 libraries from 90 countries.    
  • Bibliopolis (KB) — History of the printed book in the Netherlands.
  • Digital versions of printed works held by Leiden University Library can be consulted in Delpher, and shortly as well in Google Books, thanks to a project digitizing 55.000 books.

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