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Rare Book and Manuscript Library: Printed works

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Rare Book and Manuscript Library: Printed works

The Rare Book and Manuscript CRAI Library has close to 120,000 printed items dating from 1501 to 1820. There is a significant presence of European printing, particularly from Spain, Italy, France, Flanders, Germany and Switzerland. The sixteenth-century collection is the richest in Spain, both in number of editions, which total almost 11,300, and in number of copies, which surpass 17,350.  
The collection is multi-disciplinary. While books from convent libraries predominate, there are not only religious volumes, but also a good percentage of volumes on science, history, law and philology, as well as classical and literary texts. Indeed, the variety of subjects covered by the convent libraries can be accounted for partly by the fact that the convents served schools and advanced studies created by the religious orders and some even became public libraries. Also, most of the convent libraries received bequests and donations from a variety of leading figures, such as humanists, university professors, writers, ecclesiastical writers and liberal professionals like doctors, pharmacists and jurists.   
Highlights include a group of sermon collections (possibly the richest in Spain), a collection of journals from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, legal works and scientific books, among which are volumes on medicine and pharmacology from the Royal College of Medicine and Surgery and the Royal College of Pharmacy of Sant Victorià. Many editions, particularly in the field of science, are accompanied by woodcuts and copper engravings that beautifully illustrate the text.
Three complementary resources are available for consultation:
Catalogue alphabetical listing by author's name (including anonymous works) of printed works catalogued up to 1984, located in the aisle of the Philology CRAI Library in the Historic Building.
Inventory ordered by author's name (including anonymous works), consisting of photographs of the covers of uncatalogued books, located in the aisle of the Philology CRAI Library in the Historic Building.
Searches can be restricted to work published prior to 1900 by selecting "Ancient books" from the dropdown menu or by launching the search from within the "Ancient books" link.
In addition to the standard searches by author (which includes printers), title and subject, users may search by place of printing.

 Printer's devices


The collection details the activity and devices of the most prominent European printers, whose devices can be consulted in the Printers' devices database.

 Former owners

Catàlegs manuscrits

We know the provenance of our books because of handwritten or printed marks of ownership (ex–libris, ex–donos, stamps, coats of arms, etc.) that are found in them. Former owners can be looked up in the catalogue  using the author index and inputting the designation “ant. pos.” after the name. The former owners who merit greater attention are documented and their marks of ownership are digitalized and appear in the database of former owners.


 On line printed works


In BiPaDi


Many thematic collections in progressive increase



In Memòria Digital de Catalunya (MDC)

  • Cartographic material in MDC (Memòria Digital de Catalunya)

  • Grewe collection of feeding and gastronomy

Half of the colllection of feeding and gastronomy previous to 1820 comming from the Rudolf Grewe's library and incorporated to the CRAI in 1997 is presented on line.




Bibliogrophy of ancient books


The Rare Book and Manuscript CRAI Library maintains a bibliography of ancient books, listing all of the catalogues cited in the online catalogue entries.  


 Virtual exhibitions 


The Rare Book and Manuscript CRAI Library web page contains information on all of the virtual exhibitions organized to date. Most of them present printed works from the sixteenth to the early-nineteenth century.


Printed works in the Rare Book and Manuscript collection blog





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