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Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel

The Herzog August Bibliothek is one of the oldest libraries in the world to have survived to the present day without sustaining any losses to its collections. It was founded in 1572, but it was the systematic collecting activity of Duke August the younger(1579 - 1666) which led to the creation of one of the largest European libraries of its time comprising 135.000 valuable printed works and manuscripts.

Of the nearly 1 Mio. imprints which make up today's collection 415.000 were printed before 1850. Of these works 160.000 were printed in the seventeenth century.

Since 1974 the Herzog August Bibliothek has developed into a research centre for the early modern period. The library awards research grants to scholars from Germany and abroad, organizes conferences and meetings and conducts its own research projects.

In keeping with its role as a research library with unique historical holdings the Herzog August Bibliothek is also involved in national cataloguing projects such as the Catalogue of seventeenth-century imprints from the German-speaking territories (VD 17).

The period from 1601 - 1700

The seventeenth century saw the emergence of German as a European literary language and the vernacular started being used for areas of literature and science hitherto restricted to Latin. In the first half of the seventeenth century Germany began to successfully adapt the models provided by the European Renaissance, in the second half of the century a recognisably German Baroque culture developed.

Simultaneously, in this period - interrupted by the events of the Thirty Years' War - there was a significant increase in book production in the German-speaking territories. The literature of the time was characterised by its regional nature and an unprecedented diversity of genres. Typical phenomena are the innumerable occasional writings which were only distributed locally or regionally and ephemeral literature like pamphlets, calendars and single sheets.

The core collection of the library in Wolfenbüttel, namely that of Herzog August, was built up in the spirit of polyhistorism to be handed down to posterity as a universal collection of knowledge of its period. Setting out to augment this collection across the whole scope of its broad range, it has hitherto been possible for the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke to include almost all genres and disciplines in its acquisitions. Preference has been given to

  • prints that are not registered in bibliographies or prints not held by any German library
  • works of the most important German-speaking writers of the Baroque age
  • single works which were especially characteristic of the epoch but have now become very rare, for example broadsheets and occasional writings from the former German-speaking territories


New acquisitions are available worldwide on the internet in


Dr. Petra Feuerstein-Herz
Sammlung Deutscher Drucke 1601 - 1700
Lessingplatz 1
D - 38304 Wolfenbüttel

Phone: +49 5331 808-324
Fax: +49 5331 808-173

Last update: 01.03.2012

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