Block Books from Bavarian Collections
Block books or xylographs are illustrated books of a relatively small volume, crafted in the 15th century in a wood-cutting procedure. They mark a transition from illuminated manuscripts to illustrated printed books. They belong to the rarest and consequently most valuable collectibles of libraries. On a worldwide scale libraries hold around 600 copies of around 100 editions of 33 different works. Until today block books pose many questions to researchers in the fields of historical bibliography, art history and philology regarding the age of the individual prints, their regional origin and their classification regarding the traditions of handwritten and graphically printed text and image publication. However, scholarly research into block books is further complicated by their highly problematic conservation state. Since the paper sheets are frequently damaged by colour corrosion, the books can be made physically available to scholars for perusal only by way of exception.
It is the aim of the project to describe the extensive holdings of block books in 14 Bavarian collections (of libraries as well as museums, funded by the state, the church or privately) on an elaborate bibliographic level, and to produce comprehensive, high-quality digital reproductions and make them publicly available.
Within a period of three years more than 90 block books and fragments of block books are digitised and catalogued mostly for the first time.
Realised in cooperation with:
Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg
Pfarrei St. Martin Kaufbeuren
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München
Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg
Bibliothek Otto Schäfer Schweinfurt
Weitere Blockbuchsammlungen im Internet
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg: