The collections of the State Library reflect the history of book-collecting in Bamberg and Upper Franconia from the Middle Ages to modern times. The provenances of manuscripts and old art prints are documented in printed catalogs and databases, some already being searchable in the Bamberg Catalog.


During the secularization if 1802/03, manuscripts and prints were transferred to the present-day State Library from numerous monasteries and church institutions in Bamberg:

  • Benedictine abbey on the Michaelsberg
  • Dominican monastery
  • Dominican nunnery to the Holy Sepulchre
  • Cathedral chapter
  • Franciscan monastery
  • Capuchin monastery
  • Carmelite monastery
  • Monastery of the Franciscan Clares
  • St. Gangolphus's Abbey
  • St. James's Abbey
  • St. Stephen's Abbey
  • Jesuit college (already dissovled in 1773 and integrated into the old University Library)
  • Former university

There were also books from several other monasteries and institutions in the Bishopric of Bamberg:

  • Benedictine abbey in Banz
  • Cistercian abbey in (Kloster-)Langheim (with the office library in Kulmbach)
  • Capuchin monasteries in Höchstadt on the Aisch and in Gößweinstein
  • Franciscan monasteries in Kronach and Marienweiher
  • Franciscan hospice in Forchheim and in Glosberg near Kronach
  • Augustinian canons in Neunkirchen am Brand

Already before the secularization of 1802/03, handwritten catalogs were created for some monastery libraries in the Bishopric of Bamberg and later transferred to the State Library and the Archives of the Archdiocese of Bamberg. These provide insights into the structure and organization of the former collections.


Wolf, Irmgard: Die Säkularisierung der Stifts- und Klosterbibliotheken im Gebiet des Erzbistums Bamberg. Erlangen, 1952 (catalog).

Schemmel, Bernhard: Die Säkularisation der Stifts- und Klosterbibliotheken. In: Bamberg wird bayerisch, Bamberg, 2003, pp. 239–250 (digitized version).

Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte: Monasteries in Bavaria (online).

Nobility and Citizens

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the collections of the State Library were enriched by a considerable number of book donations, some of which were preserved separately. Therefore, the provenance of individual sub-collections can be identified even today from their shelfmarks. In the Bamberg Catalog, such special holdings can be searched via the pull-down menu.


In 1807/08, the Bamberg Library received a substantial part of the book collection of the Wittelsbach Duke Charles II Augustus of Pfalz-Zweibrücken (1746–1795), a brother of the first Bavarian King Max I Joseph. This included the book collection of the physician Johann Theophil Hoeffel (1704–1781) which had been acquired by purchase for the ducal library. After the Latinized form of the place name Zweibrücken, the Bamberg holdings are referred to as Bipontina (shelfmarks beginning "Bip.").

Originally, the Zweibrücken Hofbibliothek was located in the Schloss Karlsberg near Homburg (Saarpfalz district, Saarland). In the late 18th century, in order to protect the collection from the advancing French Revolutionary troops, the books were transferred to Mannheim; later they came to Würzburg and finally to Bamberg.

Today, the collection comprises 11,400 volumes, which are preserved in the State Library Bamberg. In a historical showroom of the New Residence, a selection of books with decorative gold embossed bindings are presented. The thematic focus is on French literature of the 18th century.


Taegert, Werner: Zur Geschichte einer fürstlichen Büchersammlung. And: Die Carlsberg-Bibliothek in der Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. In: Kunstschätze aus Schloß Carlsberg. Die Sammlungen der Herzöge von Pfalz-Zweibrücken. Saarbrücken, 1989, pp. 250–279 and pp. 301–406 (catalog).

Joseph Heller

Joseph Heller, the son of a Bamberg merchant who was orphaned at an early age and received a generous inheritance (1798–1849), donated the collection that he had built up in his lifetime and that spanned diverse genres to the library. It includef pre-historic and early-historical finds, coins, paintings, stained glass, incunabula, manuscripts, printed books and – in much higher numbers – around 50,000 graphic prints and drawings from the 15th to the 19th century. In order to expand his collection and intellectual exchange, Heller travelled to culturally significant towns in Germany, Styria, Illyria, Tyrol and Italy. He was also in regular written exchange with renowned scholars, art collectors and dealers, meticulously handwritten notes and published reference works, art historical monographs and essays about his discoveries. Heller collected information for his publications and published about his collection.

Since the 1820s, Heller had a friendship with Heinrich Joachim Jaeck (1777–1847), who became the sole director of the Royal Library in 1815, and he appointed the institution in his will as the sole heir to his estate. After he died in 1849, his collection was handed over to the library. Earlier and today, the Heller collection forms the main part of the holdings of prints and drawings of the State Library, which are remarkable both in respect of quality and quantity. The Heller collection comprises a comprehensive range of portraits and topographical views of the region (especially of the Franconian Switzerland), as well as his reference library of 6000 volumes and several hundred manuscripts. The library shelfmarks (shelfmarks beginning "JH.") reflect the former unity of these results of a personal passion for collecting.

Numerous digital copies of the so-called Helleriana and the complete correspondence are already freely accessible via the digital collection Bamberg Treasures, which is constantly being expanded. The special arrangement and activities Heller gave to his collection were the starting point for a DFG project, during which a selected segment is explored in depth, systematically hyperlinked with library and art historical resources and made accessible online to the interested public.


Leitschuh, Friedrich: Joseph Heller (1798–1849) in seiner Bedeutung für die Kunstgeschichte. Vortrag gehalten am Geburtstage Heller’s 1876. Bamberg, 1876 (digitized version).

Leitschuh, Friedrich: Joseph Heller und die deutsche Kunstgeschichte. In: Katalog der Handschriften der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Bamberg. Vol. 2: Die Handschriften der Helleriana. Bamberg, 1887, pp. I–LIV (digitized version).

Leitschuh, Friedrich: Die Kunstsammlung der königlichen Bibliothek. In: Führer durch die königliche Bibliothek zu Bamberg. 2. ed. Bamberg, 1889, pp. 144–202 (digitized version).

Schemmel, Bernhard: Joseph Heller (1798–1849). Graphiksammler und -forscher. In: Bericht Historischer Verein Bamberg 141 (2005), pp. 177–180 (catalog).

Ehrl, Franziska: Eine Freundschaft, eine Reise, eine Sammlung. Joseph Hellers (1798–1849) Nachlaß in der Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. In: Jahrbuch für Buch- und Bibliotheksgeschichte 3 (2018), pp. 53–71 (catalog).

Ehrl, Franziska; Juntunen, Eveliina: Joseph Heller und die Kunst des Sammelns. Ein Vermächtnis im Herzen Bambergs. Bamberg, 2020 (digitized version).

Ehrl, Franziska: Wissen stiften. Joseph Heller und die Vereine. In: Bericht Historischer Verein Bamberg 157 (2021), pp. 269–282 (catalog).

Publications by Heller, lists within the context of a thematic portal in (online).


Johann Lukas Schönlein

The professor of medicine Johann Lukas Schönlein (1793–1864), who was born in Bamberg, eventually became personal physician to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in Berlin after working in Würzburg and Zurich. Already during his lifetime he donated books to the Bamberg Royal Library, and after his death, he bequeathed numerous books. In total, more than 10,000 volumes have been transferred to the general stock, including geographical and historical works from all over the world. On the basis of a handwritten list, the collection can be reconstructed, although it was not preserved as a separate entity in Bamberg. The University of Würzburg received Schönlein's medical library as a legacy.

A digital selection from the holdings of the Bamberg State Library in the Bamberg Treasures portrays the life, work and importance of Johann Lukas Schönlein.


Schemmel, Bernhard: „... und ewig erklingen wird sein Ruhm ...“. Johann Lukas Schönlein (1793–1864). Arzt und Mäzen. Bamberg, 1993 (digitized version).

Schemmel, Bernhard: Johann Lukas Schönlein (1793–1864) als Büchersammler. In: Librarium 38,3 (1995), pp. 183–198 (digitized version).

Manger, Bernhard: Johann Lucas Schönlein und die Geburt der modernen Medizin. Berlin, 2023 (catalog).

Thomas Dempster Gordon

The valuable bibliophile collection of Scotsman Thomas Dempster Gordon (1811–1894) was donated to the State Library at the end of the 19th century. From a wealthy family, Gordon had given up his service as captain of the Royal Navy prematurely and undertook henceforth extensive trips throughout Europe as a private traveler. In Bad Kissingen he met his wife, and in her hometown Bamberg, the couple spent their old age.

Gordon devoted his leisure to his remarkable library of more than 3000 volumes, the basis of which were exquisite books he had inherited from his family. His collection consists predominantly in high-quality illustrated works of world literature in the original languages alongside titles on the history, geography and topography of Europe as well as biographies of statesmen and military staff. Rare first editions, masterfully crafted bindings and famous provenances further enhance the Gordon collection.


Books collected by the bibliophile Thomas Dempster Gordon (1811–1894), Captain Royal Navy, in Bamberg State Library. Bamberg, 2001 (catalog).

Die bibliophile Sammlung des Thomas Dempster Gordon (1812–1894), Captain der Royal Navy. Bamberg, 2001 (catalog).

Emil Marschalk von Ostheim

The collection of Emil Marschalk von Ostheim (1841–1903), a baron interested in genealogical, heraldic and local historical research, is identifiable from the beginning of the shelfmark with "MvO". The collection contains among others a collection of rare pamphlets concerning the revolution of 1848. A catalog drawn up by Hans Fischer published in 1911/12 made the collection well-known.


Fischer, Hans: Katalog der Bibliothek des Freiherrn Emil Marschalk von Ostheim. 3 vols. Bamberg 1911/12 (vol. 1: digitized version, vol. 2: digitized version and vol. 3: digitized version).