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The Collection
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Continental Books

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Continental Books

The Folger seeks primary source materials in European civilization in the Renaissance and early modern period, especially:

  • as they help illuminate English culture
  • as they illuminate reading and writing habits (e.g. writing manuals, writing tables, annotated copies, Continental books with English provenance)
  • as they build existing core collections such as: Festival Books, Herbals, Reformation, Italian drama, emblem books
  • as they come from significant printers such as Aldus, de Bry, de Colines, the Estiennes, Fine, Froben, Giolito, Plantin, and Verard

Priority gaps to be filled

  • Items on offline desiderata lists (after the lists have been reviewed: card files and typewritten lists in Acq Office need to be made available in electronic form, and checked against existing holdings)

Primary Continental Subject Areas:


Original language of translations

  • Foreign language sources for English-language translations of STC and Wing period
  • Foreign language sources for plays adapted into English in the eighteenth century





  • French political pamphlets, especially late sixteenth through seventeenth century, including Mazarinades
  • Dutch pamphlets, especially sixteenth and seventeenth century (based on Knuttel catalog)
  • Contemporary writings about European courts and rulers, especially in France, Germany, and Italy; instructions for rulers


  • Military organization and campaigning
  • Firearms and explosives


  • Educational manuals
  • Conduct books
  • How-to manuals (tailoring, lace-making)
  • Dictionaries and phrase books


History of Reading and Writing

  • Writing manuals, writing tables
  • Books and pamphlets on censorship and revealing censorship practices


Literature (excluding Drama; see under Theater)

  • Emblem books
  • Poetry
  • Authors especially collected:
    • Ariosto
    • Cervantes
    • Erasmus
    • Montaigne
    • Tasso



  • German Reformation with emphasis on Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Zwingli, and other reformers on the continent
  • French church history with emphasis on the Edict of Nantes, its revocation, and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre
  • Catholic church, especially as related to Protestantism, and English Catholic expatriates

  • Continental herbals, fifteenth through seventeenth centuries
  • Major treatises on medicine and human anatomy (see offline desiderata)
  • Natural history (see offline desiderata)
  • Major titles in architecture and the development of technology (see offline desiderata)
  • Accounting and arithmetic (as it relates to business and commerce)


Theater and Spectacle

  • Festival books, especially from Germany, the Low Countries, France, and Italy
  • French drama, especially seventeenth-century: editions of Moliere, Corneille, and others
  • Italian drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: comprehensively
  • Classical drama printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
  • Dutch seventeenth-century drama and theater history
  • Spanish drama, especially Lope de Vega, and Calderon
  • Books on the history and development of the theater in Europe
  • Foreign language sources for plays adapted into English in the eighteenth century
  • Continental editions of Shakespeare 

Travel and Exploration
  • Sixteenth and seventeenth-century accounts of travels by Europeans to lands outside of Europe, including Jesuit travel narratives, and books with maps
  • Geographical books with maps for European countries and cities
  • Accounts of Continental travelers to England
  • Navigation

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