New Online Collection from ProQuest Creates Access to Full-Colour 15th and 16th Century European Books

ProQuest is extending its famous Early English Books Online (EEBO) digitisation program into continental Europe, beginning with a project featuring holdings from the Danish Royal Library’s National Collection. To be launched at the end of 2009, the online resource will comprise high-resolution colour facsimile images of a wide range of European books produced in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These will be made freely accessible to members of academic institutions, public libraries, schools and other institutions in Denmark and available for subscription or purchase outside of Denmark.

Early European Books traces the history of printing in Europe from its origins through to the close of the 17th century, offering full-colour, high-resolution facsimile images of rare and hard-to-access printed sources. Early European Books will offer access to the early printed books of major libraries, forming a seamless and increasingly comprehensive survey of printing in Europe to 1700.

The first collection offers a comprehensive survey of the Royal Library’s collection of pre-1601 printed books comprising more than 2,600 items or 500,000 pages, and occupying about fifty metres of linear shelving. It will include Copenhagen’s holdings of items listed in Lauritz Nielsen’s Dansk Bibliografi 1482–1600 and its supplement (1919–1996). The collection contains all of the Royal Library’s Danish and Icelandic imprints produced in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, from the earliest works printed in Denmark through to works by the astronomer and alchemist Tycho Brahe (1546–1601) issued from his private press at Uranienborg before 1597 as well as seventeenth-century editions of works by Tycho and his follower Johannes Kepler (1571–1630).

The collection also includes material printed across Europe and works in many European languages, including Latin, Danish, German, English, Icelandic, Swedish and Ancient Greek. Authors whose works are represented among the Royal Library’s collection of pre-1601 books include humanists such as Erasmus (d. 1536), Boccaccio (1313–1375), and Petrarch (1304–1374), Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther (1483–1546), Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), Hans Tausen (1494–1561), and Johann Bugenhagen (1485–1558), and classical authors such as Cicero, Demosthenes, and Livy.

Among the landmark Latin texts included in Early European Books are copies of the three sixteenth century printed editions of the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus (13th Cent), the first printed with the title Danorum regū heroūqz historię (‘Histories of the kings and heroes of the Danes’) by Josse Badius (1462–1535) in Paris in 1514 (LN 240), the second, Saxonis Grammatici Danorum Historiae libri XVI, printed by Joannes Oporinus (1507–1568) in Basel in 1534 (LN 241), and the third, Danica Historia libris XVI, printed by Philipp Lonicer (d. 1599) in Frankfurt am Main in 1576 (LN 1450). Also included are several copies of De Denscke Kroneke, an excerpt of the Gesta Danorum in Low German printed by Matthäus Brandis in around 1502 (LN 242) and Den Danske Krønicke som Saxo Grammaticus screff, a Danish version by Anders Sørensen Vedel (1542–1616) printed in Copenhagen in 1575. 

Early European Books is the newest addition to ProQuest’s rare books program, which includes the renowned Early English Books Online. With more than 20 million pages and 125,000 rare volumes collected from over 150 of the world’s libraries, Early English Books Online provides online access to full-page images for 227 years of printed works ranging from 1473 to 1700. Both Early European Books and Early English Books Online provide instant access to the world’s great rare books to libraries around the world.

For more information, visit www.proquest.com or the ProQuest parent company website, www.cambridgeinformationgroup.com.

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