Special Collections

Our historical collection includes hand-written manuscripts, old prints, and graphic designs. Our commitment is to maintain and preserve these rare and priceless items of the library, thus resulting in special conditions and restrictions for their access and use.


For the search in the historical holdings of the Bamberg State Library various proofing instruments are available. Depending on the stock group and the time of acquisition, printed catalogues, online catalogues, databases or brief overviews should be consulted. The deep development of our old stock continues. We are happy to assist you with your research.


The still valid catalogue of manuscripts, developed by the library directors Friedrich Leitschuh and Hans Fischer, was published between 1887 and 1912. Fridolin Dreßler completed it in 1966 by recording new entries.

Manuscripts that came before 1966 in the possession of the Bamberg State Library, are listed at:

Leitschuh, Friedrich; Fischer, Hans; Dreßler, Fridolin: Katalog der Handschriften der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Bamberg. Bamberg et al, 1887–1966.

The catalog is accessible online with a full-text search option:

Bible manuscripts
Liturgical manuscripts
Church fathers and older theologians
Theological authors of the 14th century
Canonical manuscripts
Classical manuscripts
Historical manuscripts
Philosophical, scientific and medical manuscripts
Philological, astronomical-mathematical manuscripts, varia with orientalia
Legal manuscripts
Supplements and indices
Manuscripts from the collection of Joseph Heller
Bamberg collection, appendix: Manuscriptes from Zweibrücken and collection of Marschalk von Ostheim
Miscellany, appendix: Invoices and certificates
Acquisitions since 1912

A printed edition of the catalogue can be found under the entry M 740 in our reading room.

Manuscripts (Accessed since 1966)

Manuscripts acquired since 1966 can be found in the Msc.Add. short list.This directory also lists the estates, books, and poetry albums acquired since 1966.

Since 1970, the Bamberg State Library has kept 290 manuscripts of the library of the Historical Association as a deposit. They are listed in:

Dengler-Schreiber, Karin: Die Handschriften des Historischen Vereins Bamberg in der Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. Bamberg, 1985.

The catalogue is available online with a full-text search. A printed version of the catalogue can be found in our reading room under M 740-5, and further copies may be borrowed from the Bamberg Catalogue.

Medieval Manuscripts with Illuminations

The medieval manuscripts of the Bamberg State Library, which are decorated with illuminations, are successively accessible in the catalogue of illuminated manuscripts in the history of art. The descriptions of the manuscripts of the 8th to 14th centuries are already published. The manuscripts of the 15th and early 16th centuries are currently under development as part of a DFG project.

Suckale-Redlefsen, Gude; Pfändtner, Karl-Georg; Westphal, Stefanie: Katalog der illuminierten Handschriften der Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. Wiesbaden, 1995–

Volume 1: The manuscripts of the 8th to 11th centuries (2004) (part 1: texts, part 2: illustrations)
Volume 2: The manuscripts of the 12th century (1995) (texts and illustrations)
Volume 3: The manuscripts of the 13th and 14th centuries (2015) (part 1: texts, part 2: illustrations)
Volume 4: The manuscripts and prints of the 15th and early 16th centuries (in preparation)

The volumes published are available online with a full-text search.

All volumes of the catalogue can be found in our reading room under the signature M 741, further copies can be borrowed via the Bamberg Catalogue.


Facsimiles of manuscripts that are in the Bamberg State Library from our own collection and those of other libraries may be found in a separate list.

For the following manuscripts, there are (partial) facsimiles available:

Der Bamberger Psalter. Luzern, 2019.
Die Bamberger Apokalypse. Luzern, 2000.
Scriptorum opus: Schreibermönche am Werk. 2. ed. Wiesbaden, 1999.
Das Lorscher Arzneibuch. Stuttgart, 1989.
Die Handschrift Bamberg Lit. 6. Münsterschwarzach, 1986.
Der Bilderschmuck zum Psalmenkommentar des Petrus Lombardus in Bamberg. Wiesbaden, 1986.
Der Bamberger Psalter (partial facsimile). Wiesbaden, 1973.

Modern Papers

The modern papers of the Bamberg State Library can be found in the printed manuscript catalogue (in the signature group Msc.Misc.), partly in the Msc.Add. short list. All are further documented in Kalliope. Viewing and inspection is possible upon request, taking into account copyright laws.


A complete record of the incunabula (prints from the 15th century) kept in the Bamberg State Library is listed in the following online databases:

GW: Union Catalogue of Incunabula of the Berlin State Library
ISTC: Incunabula Short Title Catalogue of the British Library
INKA: Incunabula catalogue INKA of the Tübingen University Library (with naming the respective shelfmark, partly also with descriptions of the specific features)

As part of a DFG project, about 530 incunabula with illuminations are currently being catalogued.

Printed Publications from the 16th to the Early 20th Century

An inventory of printed publications and documents published since 1501 is for the most part recorded in the Bamberg Catalogue. Completely documented are dissertations published since 1800, all current newspapers and magazines, and monographs published since 1925.

Around 90 percent of literature published before 1925 is listed in the Bamberger Catalogue, but a complete directory can be found in completely so far only in internal card catalogues or repertories. If necessary, please contact our staff.

The general historical holdings of the Bamberg State Library were classified by subject and arranged in a systematic order in 1930. This classification reflects the state of scholarship of the 19th century and is accessible in  virtual form on the german website of the University Library Bamberg. As books acquired after 1930 were occasionally added to this classification and sometimes continue to be added today, a search in the virtual classification may result in retrieval of literature published considerably later than 1930.

Prints and Drawings

Only internal directories exist for graphic prints and drawings so far. Please send us an email if you have any questions about our collection.

In addition, a selected compilation, the works by Albrecht Dürer, Lukas Cranach the Elder / the Younger and Hans Holbein the Elder currently digitized as part of a DFG project, scientifically developed and – with the usual library stock – made available to all interested parties.

Contact Us

Please get in touch with us preferably at an early stage if you would like to

work with our special collections
plan a study visit at our library
view our special collections during a visit with a seminar group
request parts of our special collections as a loan
offer us books or manuscripts for sale

donate books or manuscripts to us

Telephone+49 951 95503-101

See it in the Original

If you wish to view original manuscripts, incunabula, old prints or graphic prints, we kindly ask you to inform us of your visit at least one week in advance through email, explaining the purpose and background of your request for use.

The directorate grants permission to inspect originals only for projects for a scholarly purpose, provided that their use is reasonable with regards to conservation. Before you start working in the reading room, we will inform you of the conditions for use during a conversation.

An overview of the conditions of use regarding our special collection may be found here.

Digital Collections

Through our digital collections you can see reproductions of numerous manuscripts, old prints and fine art prints and drawings. The digitized books are indexed with detailed information and some transcriptions, and linked with further descriptions. Downloads as a PDF or JPG file are usually possible.

Unless otherwise stated, the digital copies already available are under the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0. You may reproduce and redistribute this material, modify the material for any purpose, and build upon it, as long as you cite the Bamberg State Library as the source, specify the signature of the document, and use the same license in case of distribution.


You may request reproductions of special collections items from us. We will gladly inform you about the technical options as well as about the costs incurred and the fees for each release.

Research Documentation

Our research documentation indicates scholarly and general literature that has been published with reference to the manuscripts, incunabula, old prints, or graphic prints from the Bamberg State Library, and has become known to us. This ranges from a short mention in a footnote to an essay through a monograph. Publications that use pictures of Bamberg objects only for decorative purposes, without referring to the objects in the text, are also included. This data is kept up-to-date in an online database.

Please inform us about new publications on our collections. We welcome any sample copies.