Page 47 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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King Frederick I I I (1609-1670), who succeeded his father
Christian IV in 1648, was an erudite man with many literary
interests. He was an avid collector of books. T h e 17th century
was a period of learning; the Hebrew language and lite ra tu re
were studied on the same level as Greek and Latin. T h e noble
families sent their young sons, accompanied by their tutors, on
educational pilgrimages to the centers of learning in Europe.
During these journeys, usually lasting several years, they ac­
quired books and manuscripts which they brought home to
Denmark.
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In many Danish mansions and in the homes of high officials,
considerable libraries could be found containing numerous
Hebrew and Jewish books. Among such collections, those be-
longing to the high ranking nobleman and state official Joachim
Gersdorff (1611-1661) and to the learned official Peder Scavenius
(1623-1685) merit special mention. These and other collections,
all including Jewish books, were incorporated in to the king’s
new library. Additional Jewish books were acquired on o ther
occasions, such as auctions, by donation, etc. Valuable Hebrew
manuscripts were purchased for the king’s library by the Danish
expedition to the Near East in 1761-67. Hebrew manuscripts were
brought to Denmark also by other Danish scholars and then
found their way to the Royal Library. I t is estimated tha t in 1800
the collections of Hebraica and Judaica in the library comprised
some 5,000 volumes. Among them were many rare manuscripts
and books—a set of the first complete edition of the Babylonian
Talmud, ed. by Daniel Bomberg (Venice, 1520-22), several other
old editions of the Talmud , Rabbinics, rare editions of the
Hebrew Bible like the Ferrara Bible, a rich collection of un ique
old Judaica, and other prized volumes.
Many significant Jewish books had also been collected in the
University Library of Copenhagen, bu t during the conflagration
in 1728 when two-fifths of the town were destroyed by fire,
including the University Library, all these books were lost. In
the following decades, however, the library succeeded in col-
lecting a number of valuable Hebraica and Judaica. In the
1850’s a Danish Jewish businesman, Simon Aron Eibeschiitz
(1786-1856), who had founded several large endowments for
various social, cultural and other purposes of public utility,
also donated a fund to the University Library for the purchase
of Hebraica and Judaica. In 1928 this fund, the “Eibeschiitz
Collection,” and treasured Hebraica and Judaica from the
earlier collections in the University L ibrary—some 2,400 volumes
in all—were transferred to the Royal Library.