THE LIBRARY OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM IN PRAGUE
book culture department
The collections of The book culture department represent an entirely unique set of exlibris, illustrations, book graphics, print blocks, posters, personal effects, holy pictures, publisher´s archives and correspondence market singers´ songs. With its extent and value these collections belong to the most important collections in the Czech republic.
Our collections show the development of printing, printing techiques, book art and the publisher´s activities from the 18th century to the present. It also documents the creation of a national literature from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century - which has a half-folk character - the market singers´ songs. All our items are not in strictly classical book form.
The basis of the collection (31 000 pieces) consists of the exlibris collection of Karel Jaroslav Obrátil, teacher and a collector from Uhersko - hradišťsko (Moravia). Its collection of book labels was in the 1930´s one of the biggest in our country. Among almost 25.000 pieces of the graphic works we can find the precious heraldic exlibris, modern and also foreign works. There is even quite a big set of the erotic exlibris. The other major part of our collection was acquired from the estate of dr. Miloslav Novotný - librarian, literary historian and collector.
Very interesting and valuable collection of posters also came to the library with the estate of K. J. Obrátil. The poster collection includes almost 700 pieces and includes of advertising, book, theatrical and publisher´s placards and a very unusual assortments of the wall calendars and the foreign posters - mostly german and hungarian. The collection has been catalogued since 1991 alphabetically by name.
About 10.000 items of illustrations and graphic book prints represent the development of this type of art from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. The works of the most notable czech artists are represented here - for example V. Černý, A. Scheiner, A. Kašpar, J. Váchal, L. Jiřincová, Z. Mézl. The collection has been catalogued since 1974 alphabetically by name.
Printing block collection
The collection of exlibris and illustrations is complemented by the collection of the printing blocks - almost 1300 pieces. For its extent and extraordinary preservation this collection is highly appreciated by current artists. Catalogued alphabetically since 1981.
Personal effects collection
The personal things of czech graphic artists, illustrators and typographers are being kept in the collection of personal effects. The collection contains 1100 items that have been catalogued since 1981.
Publisher´s archives and correspondence collection
The Library of the NM owns the second of the biggest collections of the publisher´s archives and correspondence in the Czech republic. It includes more than 33. 000 items - the correspondence, the publisher´s lists and leaflets and other documents which are related to the history of czech publishing houses form the 1st half of 19th. century to middle of the 20th century. There are 23 large individual sets, for example the estates of V. Petr, V. Poláček, M. Kaláb, O. Menhart, A. Chvála, J. R. Vilímek, K. Resler, V. Žikeš and so on.
Holy pictures collection
Our collection comprise about 3000 pieces of pictures. With these pictures we can follow the development of graphic techniques. The basis of this collection was created by the gift of town council officer B. Přibyl. He collected the holy pictures which were created from the end of the 18th century to the end of the 19th century.
Market singers´ songs collection
This collection is the largest special collection of this sort in the Czech republic and for its extent and content also belongs to the premier collections of this sort in Europe. The collection, today with nearly 40.000 exemples, was rigorously built from the end of the 19th century. We started cataloguing and sorting the collection by incipits (the starting letter of the song) in the 1947. The catalogue is still being complemented with records of the new gains - the last time was the collection enriched by the very significant set of R. Hlava from Semily.
All collections of The book culture Department in the Library of the NM are continuously presented at regular exhibitions in the main building of the NM (The Cabinet of the book culture) and also behind its walls.