Buchgeschenke, Patronage und protestantische Allianzen: Die Stadtbibliothek Zürich und ihre Donatoren im 17. Jahrhundert

Christian Scheidegger


The so-called Bürgerbibliothek, the first public library in Zurich, was founded in 1629, partly to protect the reformed community in dangerous times. It was made possible by private initiatives and occasionally supported by the city’s authorities. Although lacking public funds, the collection expanded considerably thanks to donations, both from private citizens and from foreign visitors. Most donations and gifts, consisting primarily of books and various objects for the cabinet of curiosities, were meticulously registered in an illuminated manuscript. The donation book is an interesting source of information not only for provenance history, but also for researchers of cultural and social history, as the recorded entries for theologians, merchants, politicians, diplomats and refugees reveal numerous social connections. It is argued that the book donations were not merely voluntary, but that they bear witness to a network of legal deposit, patronage systems and a fascinating gift economy.


Stadtbibliothek Zurich; Confessionalisation; social network; book of donors; donation; exchange; history of provenance

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