from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Illuminated manuscript, Badische Landesbibliothek , Karlsruhe
Handwritten Bible, Belgium 1407

Librarians and collectors refer to rare and valuable old prints, illuminated manuscripts and special documents with a unique character that are kept separately in libraries as cimelias , sometimes also cimelias (from ancient Greek κειμήλιον keimelion "gem, preciousness") .

More common today is the term Rara ( singular Rarum ; from Latin rarus "rare, isolated") or Rarissima . The rarity department of a library usually includes works from the early days of printing.

In the monastery libraries of the Middle Ages and the early modern period , the valuable writings and prints were not infrequently chained to the lectern in order to prevent them from falling down or being stolen. Today, the copies of the Rara departments are usually only presented to the user on request and in separate reading rooms for inspection or made accessible through alternatives, for example in the form of facsimile editions , microfilms or digital copies .

Particularly valuable items are kept in safes , such as the Gospel of Heinrich the Lion , which is in a special safe in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel - a facsimile is made available to the public for viewing. The original was knocked down at Sotheby’s in London in 1983 for 32.5 million D-Marks, the successful bidder for the Federal Republic of Germany was the banker Hermann Josef Abs . The Augsburg State and City Library , for whose celebratory items a separate presentation room, the so-called Lower Cimelia Hall, was built in the 19th century , showed a large Zimeliad show on the 480th anniversary of its founding in 2017.

The most precious individual pieces from ecclesiastical and secular treasuries , chambers of curiosities and coin cabinets are also referred to as cimelia.


  • Sidney E. Berger: Rare books and special collections . facet publishing, London 2014, ISBN 978-1-78330-015-0 .
  • Helmut Hiller, Stephan Füssel: Dictionary of the book . 7th edition. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-465-03495-7 .
  • Ursula Rautenberg (Hrsg.): Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches . Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 978-3-15-010542-9 .
  • Tilo Brandis : Zimelien. Western manuscripts from the Middle Ages from the collections of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. Reichert, Wiesbaden 1975, ISBN 978-3-920153-50-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl-Georg Pfändtner: I love gold and books very much ... - 480 years of the Augsburg State and City Library. The Cimelia . Quaternio Verlag, Lucerne 2017, ISBN 978-3-905924-59-6 .