Special book historical collections

A number of special collections are directly placed under the Department of Rare Books.

The Incunabula Collection: The Royal Library owns c. 4,500 incunabula, i.e. books printed before 1501. Some of them have been in the Library since it was founded by Frederik III in the 1660's. The Incunabula Collection was greatly enlarged when the collector of books Count Otto Thott died in 1785. All of his books that were printed before 1531 – of which c. 1,500 were actual incunabula – were given to the Royal Library as a bequest. Since then the Collection has mainly expanded when H.O. Lange was chief librarian 1901-24; today it is the largest in Scandinavia.

The Postincunabula Collection contains foreign books printed 1501-30. It was not established until the middle of the 1970's and today it comprises c. 6,500 volumes.

In the beginning of the 19th century the Parchment Collection was created. It consists of books printed on the luxurious material parchment, in total c. 125 volumes. 

In the 1950's initial steps were taken to form a regular Book Historical Study Collection when a large number of books were separated from the foreign collections – books which regardless of their contents demonstrate special book historical characteristics, such as bindings, printing, illustrations, and provenance.

Also placed under the Department of Rare Books is a large part of foreign books from the Old Collection, the so-called S-77-Collection. It consists of books which are especially valuable and/or rare or of book historical interest in other ways.

Finally the Department of Rare Books also includes the Library's collection of Danish bookbindings.