The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich is currently showing an exhibition on 15th-century blockbooks, which will be on display until 6 May 2012.
Blockbooks, i.e. books printed from woodblock rather than moveable type, served in the second half of the 15th century mainly for the distribution of works in which text and images were combined closely, often on the same page. Most of the books conveyed biblical knowledge or could be used for teaching the Christian faith. Occasionally, more secular topics were treated. For pupils and students, elementary schoolbooks and Latin grammars were produced. Wider circles of readers were reached by travel guides for pilgrims, calendars or a handbook on the art of palmistry.
In the exhibition, fifteen blockbooks from the collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek are on show which give an insight into the wide range of themes covered in blockbooks. Every xylographic edition on display is placed in the context of contemporary manuscripts or typographic editions of the same work in order to demonstrate the variety of 15th-century media and the differences in content, layout and usage of the surviving textual witnesses.
Most exhibits can be viewed in full digital reproduction on the website
The exhibition is accompanied by a printed catalogue:
Vom ABC bis zur Apokalypse Leben, Glauben und Sterben in spätmittelalterlichen Blockbüchern
Ausstellung 17. Februar bis 6. Mai 2012
Ausstellung und Katalog: Bettina Wagner.
Luzern : Quaternio Verlag, 2012.
168 pages, over 100 colour illustrations.
(Schatzkammer ; 2012)
Preis: EUR 19,80
which can be purchased via the library’s online shop (order no. 070):
Admission free – Free audio guide
Monday-Friday 10-17, Thursday 10-19, Saturday/Sunday 13-17
Closed from 6-9 April (Easter) and on 1 May
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Schatzkammer
Ludwigstr. 16, D-80539 München