The Cronstedt Collection
Primitiae liberalitatis Gustavi III in academiam Upsaliensem MDCCLXVII
The firstlings of Gustavus’ III generosity towards the academy of Uppsala 1767.
When the Cronstedt collection, containing a great number of early printed Swedish books, was donated to Uppsala University by Gustavus III in 1767 it was immediately located in a place where its great significance was stressed. This was the so called gallery, a room between the two book halls in the old university house Gustavianum, where the librarians had their offices. Above the doors to the halls were marble plates where the quotation from above was inscribed. Obviously the donation had been as important as the donator.
The number of Swedish books in the library was at this time still rather small, and the gaps, accordingly, considerable as far as titles from the earlier period in Swedish book production were concerned. Directives for legal deposits to Uppsala University were given in 1692 and 1707, but, in reality, it took a long time until these functioned satisfactory.
Although the Cronstedt collection was usually regarded as a unity separate from the other Swedish books, missing items were sometimes added to it, duplicates were exchanged, and copies sold. It was thus to become the foundation of the Swedish section in the collections of the library.
The man who has given the collection its name, Jacob Cronstedt of Fullerö (1668–1751), had started to collect books as a student in Uppsala, and the principles were clear:
[The collection shall contain] those books, rare manuscripts and documents, which have either been written by Swedish men or in some way concern our fatherland and its history, be they published in our country or abroad.
Cronstedt was very successful. When the collection arrived at Carolina Rediviva it numbered approximately 3000 volumes. Until his death it was located in his manor Fullerö not far from Västerås, in a building especially purposed for the library. When his widow later experienced financial problems, an offer was sent to the estates of the Realm to buy the collection, and the sale was completed in 1757, with the purpose being that the crown prince Gustavus (III) would use it in his studies. The collection was then moved to the Tessin Palace in Stockholm.
Gustavus III, still only a crown prince, made his first visit to Uppsala University as its chancellor in 1767. When notified about the gaps in the collections of the library, as well as its limited means, he eventually decided to donate the Cronstedt collection to the university. It was moved to Uppsala the same year, and, in practice, immediately abolished the deficiencies in the Swedish collections.
The majority of the books in the collection are well preserved. The bindings are usually simple, the sheets not cut too much, the paper clean, with only scattered traces from previous readers. This too is completely in accordance with the principles for Cronstedt’s collecting activity
The collection has been divided into 10 sections, the tenth of which has been given the shelf mark Sv. Rar. 10 [serial number]. The first nine have the shelf mark Cr. [section number: serial number; e.g. 7:102].
The books have been registered in the national union catalogue Libris, as well as in the local catalogue DISA. For a list covering the titles of the Cronstedt Collection:
- The Cronstedt Collection in Libris
- The Cronstedt Collection in Disa
Holmgren, Gustaf, "Om Cronstedtska samlingen i Uppsala universitetsbibliotek och dess tillkomst. Några anteckningar", in Donum Grapeanum. Festskrift tillägnad överbibliotekarien Anders Grape på sextiofemårsdagen den 7 mars 1945. Uppsala 1945, pp. 519–560.
Lundh, Herbert, ”Cronstedt, Jacob”, in Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, vol. 9 (1931), pp. 254 ff.
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