Treasures of World-Famous Fagel Collection To Be Discovered
The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (the National Library of the Netherlands) and Trinity College Library in Dublin will work together to make the Fagel collection more accessible for scientific research. The world-famous Fagel collection is one of the most important and largest surviving Dutch private libraries from before 1800.
More than 30,000 titles of the Fagel collection will be described in detail for the first time. This will make the collection more accessible for scientific research. It will also be the first step towards making the collection fully digitally available. The descriptions of Dutch books will be included in the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands - the retrospective national bibliography of the Netherlands for the period up to 1801. The project is led by Trinity College.
The Long Room in Trinity College, where the Fagel collection is housed. © Trinity College Library, Dublin / photo: Gill Whelan
The Fagel family
The Fagel collection is one of the jewels in the Library of Trinity College Dublin’s collections. It was built up over five generations of the Fagel family from The Hague, many of whom held high public office in the Netherlands. Between 1670 and 1795 the Fagels supplied five successive clerks to the States General of the Dutch Republic. They worked for more than a century in the heart of the Dutch Republic.
When the French conquered De Republiek in 1794-1795, the last clerk of the Fagel family, Hendrik Fagel de Jonge, was on a diplomatic mission in England and was forced to stay there. His possessions were initially expropriated, but later released and shipped to London. Due to financial problems, Fagel had to put his art and book collection up for auction. Before the auction could take place, Trinity College managed to buy the collection as a whole, and the books were moved to Dublin in 1802. When it came to Trinity it expanded the Library’s collection by 40% and occupied over a mile of shelving space in the Old Library.
The oldest book in the Fagel collection: 'Vitae virorum illustrium' [Life of famous men], Nicholas Jenson, Venice, 1478 © Trinity College Library, Dublin
The collection includes rare and unique manuscripts, printed books, pamphlets, maps and atlases from the early modern era, in Dutch, French and English. The collection probably still contains many undiscovered treasures as the 20,000 books and 12,000 pamphlets have never been properly described. Recent work undertaken on the collection has revealed that upwards of 10% of the titles in the collection are the only surviving copies of publications, and some of the maps are the earliest known maps of regions of the world.
The Fagel collection contains books on history, theology, politics, law, medicine, geology, biology, art, architecture and countless other subjects. Because the Fagels were active in administration, the collection provides a good picture of the 18th century government and political networks and which books administrators used.
In his book 'Harmonia macrocosmica seu Atlas universalis et novis' (Johannes Janssonius, Amsterdam, 1661), the Horn schoolmaster Andreas Cellarius presented various views on the universe from that time, such as those of Ptolemy. © Trinity College Library, Dublin
The Fagel library was visited earlier this year by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The cooperation between the National Library of the Netherlands and Trinity College is made possible by financial support (€500,000) from the Dutch government.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima view an item from the Fagel collection in the Old Library.