Collection of "Old Prints"

The “Old prints“ collection is a core element and a treasury of the BBF library, containing approximately 390 shelf metres with ca. 15,000 volumes dating from 1494 to 1850.

The collection dates back to 1876 when the first predecessor of the BBF, the German School Museum, was founded. In later years, the successor institutions, most of all the German Teachers Library but also later the Central Pedagogical Library, added to the collection. Even today, the BBF is systematically acquiring relevant titles, and in this regard it is occasionally supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), via the Specialized Information Service "Educational Science and Educational Research".

The predecessor of the BBF had a mandate to provide all  literature that was considered relevant for teachers at general education schools. Besides specifically pedagogical titles, this remit also concerned general knowledge. Therefore, classical pedagogical literature is included in the collection, but also books from the areas of theology, philosophy and sciences, agriculture as well as domestic science. Many textbooks, primers, dictionaries, encyclopedia, catechisms and children’s books are available to researchers.

The collection of old prints is not only impressive because it covers such a wide range of topics. A varietey of formats, bindings and materials can also be found, ranging from untouched interim covers to minute leather bound copies and large-size parchment volumes, i.e. many different examples of book culture, printing and binding practices from past centuries.

For preservation purposes, the collection is stored in a special air-conditioned room that is not open to the public. Users can contact the information desk to order  volumes they wish to inspect in the archive reading room. Some parts of the collection have been digitized and the respective items are freely accessible on the digital library of the BBF, Scripta Paedagogica. The digitization of items is continued and the BBF is currently digitizing volumes from the 18th century, subject to DFG project "VD 18".

Pictures from all old prints published before 1830 and pictures from selected volumes published after 1830 have been digitized and indexed in detail in  the BBF database of pictures, Pictura Paedagogica, which is freely accessible on the internet.

The BBF offers guided tours to the public and visitors are thus introduced to the collection of old prints. Special tours can be arranged upon request.