E-kataloog ESTER

Artiklite andmebaas ISE

Digitaalarhiiv DIGAR

Mon-Fri 10-20, Sat 12-19.
The book return box is in Endla 3, Mo-Su 7-22


History of the collection

The predecessor of the National Library of Estonia, the State Library had a small, however deliberately selected collection of old books - publications issued before the 19th century. The basic part of it was composed of publications of juridical and historical orientation, especially Baltica.   The collection was considerably increased by the books, among which was a significant number of old publications, acquired from the Baltic Germans who left Estonia in 1939-1940.

A systematic development and arrangement of the rare books collection started in 1945 that was prompted and affected by the ended war, changed regime, and considerably increased book holdings. The libraries of many private persons and institutions, societies, and organisations that had been shut down or had rearranged their work, also books from museums, educational establishments, nationalised bookshops, antique shops, publishers, and print shops were handed over to the State Library. Among these books there was also a considerable number of old and rare publications.

The core of the rare books collection consists of the books from the Tallinn oldest school Tallinn Gymnasium, Narva Church Library, Museum of Pärnu Library, and Tallinn Central Library. Smaller amounts of books originate from Livonia County Gymnasium, Paide and Haapsalu County Schools, Tallinn Aleksander Gymnasium, Narva Merchant Guild, Society of Saaremaa Regional Studies, General Staff Library, and Hans Leoke’s Archive Library.

The rare books collection also holds several valuable private  collections or part of collections, e.g. collections that once belonged to the pastor of Narva Jaan (St John’s) congregation Johann Heinrich Lange (1717-1788), teacher of Rakvere County School Heinrich Johann Winkler (1798-1864), lawyer Viktor Johanson (1880-1941?), rector of Tallinn Dome School and history teacher Aleksander Winkler (1888-1961), the son of the Russian Empress Katarina II and Count Grigori Orlov, Aleksei Bobrinski (1762-1813), and others.

In addition, the collection contains books that have belonged to the renowned bibliophiles Joseph Conrad de Nuss (1746–1795), Aleksander Tassa (1882–1955), Bernhard Linde (1886–1954), Gustav Matto (1886–1972) and the Baltic German noble families (the Benckendorffs, Dehns, Meyendorffs, Samsons, Sievers’, Stackelbergs, Tolls, Ungern-Sternbergs, Vietinghoffs, Wahls, and others).

In the post-war years, rarities were also purchased from Moscow and Leningrad, including the collection of the Professor of Petersburg University, Aleksandr Grebjonkin  (1881-?).