The Library of The National Museum in Szczecin: Old Prints Collecting

Since it came to existence, the book determined shape, horizons and level of mental lives of various communities. Collecting prints, especially old ones, by institutions and private individuals has always built the prestige of their other collections and testified to the collectors' socially valued scientific views. From the very beginning museum collections were accompanied by book collections, including old prints.

In Szczecin, the institutionalisation of collecting activities resulted in establishing the Society for History and Antiquity of Pomerania (Gesellschaft für Pommersche GeschichteundAltertumskunde), the Society of Fine Arts of Pomerania (Kunstverein für Pommern) and the Entomological Society (Entomologischer Verein).

In 1864 members of the Entomological Society (Entomologischer Verein) established the Pomeranian Museum (Pommersches Museum), the aim of which was to create art collections as well as archaeological, geological and natural ones, to care for them and to arrange exhibitions. Although until 1913 the Pomeranian Museum did not have a permanent seat, ase early as after two years of activity - in 1866 - a library was opened within it. It was located at 1 Rosengarten St. (present ul. Podgórna).


Part of Rosengarten St., present ul. Podgórna, before 1914. NMS Photo Archive


The Pomeranian Museum (Pommersches Museum) Library - the first museum library in Szczecin - was created on account of donations of the Museum founders', including E. F. Pitzschky, H. Dohrn and R. Lehmann and from other individuals, thanks to whom 1160 volumes were acquired, with old prints among them. 

There was a museum readers' club at the Library, which systematically supplied it with new publications. At the beginning of the 1870s the Library collection amounted to ca. 4,000 volumes and was divided into thirteen divisions: A - Pomeranian studies, B - natural sciences, C - medicine, D - law, E - philosophy and psychology, F - theology and pedagogy, G - philology, H - antiquity, I - art, K - history, L - biographies, M - geography, N - trade and craft.

The rapidly growing collections of the Museum and its Library forced not only the systematic enlargement of the area, but also the specialisation of the book collection. As a result of the selection, part of the collection (7,120 volumes) was in 1902 transferred to the newly established City Library (Stadtbibliothek).

The readers' great interest in the book collection with limited housing conditions even caused the consideration of introducing access restrictions. The library operated until 1913, when the building of the City Museum (Museum der Stadt Stettin) at present Wały Chrobrego was made available to the public. The exhibits of the Museum and the book collection were moved there.



The Pomeranian Museum (Pommersches Museum) Library seal in an old print, present NMS Library collection


In 1913, the construction of the monumental building of the Museum of the City of Szczecin (Museum der Stadt Stettin) was completed. Its exhibition was built on the basis of numerous, so far dispersed, municipal collections, enriched with further donations of Szczecin patricians.

A library with a reading room supplemented the excellent collection of ancient art, modern and contemporary paintings and a significant set of natural exhibits. Publications and periodicals mainly in the field of nature and art were made available. The Print Room and the collection of old prints occupied separate rooms.


The Museum of The City of Szczecin (Museum der Stadt Stettin) Library reading room, 1938. photo by Biedermann. NMS Photo Archive


In 1928 a second museum was opened in Szczecin. It was Provincial Museum of the Pomeranian Antiquities (Provinzialmuseum Pommerscher Altertümer Stettin), which in 1934 was renamed into Pomeranian National Museum (Pommersches Landesmuseum). Its seat was located in the Laded Gentry House - the current seat of The National Museum in Szczecin - The Museum of Regional Traditions (ul. Staromłyńska 27).

It was based on the collections of the already mentioned Society of Pomeranian History and Antiquities. In 1927, the Society transferred all its rights and museum collections along with a book collection to the Museum as the final location of exhibiting historical monuments of Pomerania. Until then the Society's exhibits were stored and displayed as a separate collection at the City Museum. In turn, the rich library in 1856 was taken charge of by the Royal Provincial Archives.

The book collection given to the Provinzialmuseum was a small part of it, acting as a reference library and probably did not include old prints. Library resources along with other supportive materials - including photographs - were made available free of charge.


Seal of the Reference Library of The Museum of Society of Pomeranian History and Antiquities (Handbliothek des Museums den Gesellschaft für Pommersche Geschichte und Altertumskunde).


The postwar fate of the museum library collections of both institutions - the Municipal Museum and the Pomeranian National Museum - caused the present Library of The National Museum in Szczecin to inherit a relatively small percentage of them.

Until 1950, there were two museums in Szczecin - the City Museum and the Maritime Museum - with separate libraries based on post-German museum book collections. Documents from 1945-1963 recorded the process of scattering museum book collections around numerous scientific institutions located both nationwide and in Szczecin.

Due to the fact that the Museum performs a protective function for the museum collections of the voivodeship, the Museum Library was also enriched by taking over the remains of their collections. There were old prints among them.

The years 1955–1970 were a time of shaping the scientific character of the Museum Library. At that time, it was moved to the building at ul. Staromłyńska (1956), where it still remains as Lhe Library of The National Museum in Szczecin (Biblioteka Muzeum Narodowego w Szczecinie - BMNS).


NMS social media records of 2018 query research on prints from historical resources of Gröning School Library. The BMNS collection has 127 prints that had been owned by that school (seals: Bibliotheca Gymnasii Stargard in Pommern; Biblioteca Gymnasii Reg&Groning Stargard; Bibliotheca Gymnasii Reg&Groning Stargard. i. Pom.), including 20 prints from the 16th century on history and theology, some of them are merged; they have characteristic bindings and are characteristically marked. Among the examined voulmes there were found, among others, marginalia form the 18th century, including interesting proverbs and short poems.


The National Museum in Szczecin Library (BMNS) Old Print Collection Profile

- 577 works (744 volumes) - it is Szczecin's fourth biggest old print collection.

- history - ca. 80 % of the collection; beside works on Pomerania the most numerous are publications on history of Germany, Europe and its particular areas
- alchemy
- architecture
- sightseeing and local history
- science
- numismatics
- religion / theology
- art
- single publications: philosophy, dictionaries, lexicons and handbooks, prints on navigation and boat building. 

Due to their topics, numerous prints are richly illustrated.

Print languages: mainly German and Latin; others: French, Italian, Dutch and Polish.


Caspar Schütz, Historia rerum Prussicarum, Zerbst 1692.


BMNS old prints chronology

16th century: 29 titles, including 8 Pomeranica.
17th century: 180 titles, including 82 Pomeranica.
18th century: 368 titles, including 148 Pomeranica.

40% of the collection are Pomeranica,that is, prints separated dueto its content regarding the area of historic West Pomerania and due to formal criterion which is the being published within this area.


Kirchenordnung im Lande zu Pommern (Alten Stettin 1690) /  Agenda … gestellet vor de Kercken in Pamern, Alten Stettin 1691.
The property of St. Gertrude's Church in Szczecin (?).


Pomeranian publishing houses represented in BMNS old print collection:
- Szczecin  59 titles 
- Stargard 22 titles
- Greifswald 22 titles
- Stralsund 21 titles
- Kołobrzeg   4 titles. 
- Białogard   1 title


Stargard in Pommern 1680, Gedruck von Berger Campe, Hinterpommern Buchhändler.


Alten Stettin 1656, gedruckt bey Johann Valentin Rheten, Königlichem Typogarpho und Buchhändler.


Provenance research publications in BMND old print collection
- Szczecin museums and related book collections: 
Museum Stattin, Pommersches Museum, Bibliothek der Gesellschaft für Pom. Geschichte u. Altertumskunde in Stettin,  Nautische Gesellschaft Stettin, Städtisches Naturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Stettin (with "Dohrn” footnote), Aus der Handbibliothek der Stadtischen Kupferstich Sammlung zu Stettin
- others: 
school libraries of Szczecin, Stargard, Białogard, Drawsko; museums of Białogard, Drawsko; societies of Szczecin; institutions of Koszalin, Świdwin, Stralsund.


 Handwritting: Handbibliothek der Stätische Kupferstich-Sammlung zu Stettin / Rfgerence Library of Szczecin City Copperplate Collection.


Stamp: Kreisheimatmuseum Drammburg in Pommern / Reginal Museum in Drawsko Pomorskie


Stamp: Bibliothek des Gymnasiums zu Belgard / Białogard School Library


Stamp: Hilfsbücherei des Staatlischen und Gröningschen Gymnasiums zu Stragard i. Pom. / Reference Library of Gröning City School in Stargard


Personal ownership marks in BMNS old print collection:
- ca. 80 prints have personal ownership marks, marginalia and exlibris
- autographs were mostly written by professors of Pomeranian Schools.


Paul Friedeborn's autograph in Historische Beschreibung der Stadt Alten Stettin in Pommern, Alten Stettin 1613.


Paul Friedeborn (1572-1637) – lawyer from Szczecin merchant family, city official since 1596 and the mayor of the city of Szczecin in years 1630-1637. In 1613 he published "Historical Description of The City of Szczecin in Pomerania" in German (Historische Beschreibung der Stadt Alten Stettin in Pommern), and in 1624 "Topographic and Historical Description of The City of Szczecin, with Engraving" in Latin (Descriptio urbis Stetinensis, topographica, historica, cum icone). These works describe the history of Szczecin from the earliest times to the beginning of the 17th century.


Signature BMNS S-I-451-489. An example of handwriting in a chart of a collection of prints merged within one binding, including 17th- and 18th-century sermons of Pomeranian pastors and dissertations on history (of, among others, Pomerania) from a school library in Stargard  (seal: Bibliotheca Gymnasii Reg. & Groning. Stargard in Pom.). The fragment describes Brandenburgian siege of Szczecin by Frederick WIlliam in years 1677-1678 which ended in conquering the city.


Single prints in BMNS collection have been presented at the Museum permanent exhibitions: "West-Pomeranian Dukes' Artistic Patronage", "The Golden Age of Pomerania. The Art at the Court of Pomeranian Dukes in 16th and 17th Centuries", "History and Culture of Szczecin in 17th-19th Centuries” and "The Oldest Charts of History of Szczecin”. 

Old prints are also in the non-library collection of The National Museum in Szczecin - The Szczecin History Museum, an NMS branch. These are: three brochures, seven religious works and a valuable print entitled "Parodiae in libros odarum Horatii" (Stettin 1634) with paraphrases of Horace's poetry and a poem by Lambert Alard (1602-1672) - Laurifolia s. Poematum juvenilium apparatus with an introduction by a Koszalin-born philosopher and educator David Hopf (1600-1660). The print comes from the church library in Trzebiatów (Ex Biblioteca Treptoviensis Templi).


The National Museum in Szczecin - The Szczecin Hostory Museum exposition
Objects from the left: King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk office document regarding the marriage of Boguslav X with Anna Jagiellonka, 1490 (20th century copy); a letter of king Zygmunt II August to Pomeranian Dukes regarding borrowing 100 thousand thalers (20th century copy); J. Micraelius, Sechs Bücher vom Alten Pommerland, Alten Stettin 1639-1640.


 Agenda … gestellet vor de Kercken in Pamern, Alten Stettin 1691


Originally edited by Marta Kurzyńska