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Alexander II, for example, donated to the Library works on the archaeological exploration of prehistoric settlements in the Crimea, and a facsimile of the Codex Sinaiticus.

The Lenox Library, another parent collection of NYPL, while focused primarily on Bibles in all languages (including the first Gutenberg brought to America), also included folio rarities.

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The Czars and Czarinas had among their ranks a formidable number of book collectors. For example, over the past decade the Slavic and Baltic Division has received a large quantity of late 18th- to early 19th-century hand-colored prints, engraved maps, and folios from the estates of several New York area collectors, including that of the great bibliophile, Paul M. Recent purchases from a variety of dealers have brought the Division remarkable visual materials dating from the 16th century onwards.

In addition to the books they purchased, they received many presentation volumes, printed on special paper, luxuriously bound in silk or morocco with the imperial crest. In the area of plate books from Russia and Eastern Europe, NYPL's few peers outside of Russia include, in addition to the Library of Congress and Harvard's Fogg Art Museum Library, the Hoover Institution's "vault" collection, the University of Southern California's Institute of Modern Russian Culture, the Hillwood Museum Library, and the Helsinki University Library.

As a consequence, a large number of the volumes digitized here were produced within the borders of the Russian Empire and Eastern Europe, but concern places and subjects that are neither geographically nor ethnically Slavic or East European.

For example, there are plate books concerning pre-Classical, Classical (Greek and Roman), Byzantine, Islamic, and Asian civilizations.

These two outstanding collections were unquestionably the wealthiest of their day, leap-frogging both quantitatively and qualitatively virtually all of their more venerable academic and society library contemporaries.

The "golden age" of retrospective collecting of large, rare plate books from Eastern Europe came in the decade between 19, when the Soviet government nationalized and sold abroad the contents of imperial palace libraries.Although materials in Cyrillic script were not yet a collecting priority, many Russian works came to the Astor and Lenox libraries during this period because of the leading role of Russian and Eastern European researchers in 19th century world scholarship.The spreading fame of the collection attracted donations of material from writers and scholars from Eastern Europe, as well gifts from the Tsars themselves.Notably, there is little duplication, especially in the area of Cyrillic plate books, among these three institutions. 90-91.) Building upon the long legacy of the Astor and Lenox collections, the acquisition of these kinds of extraordinary materials--even in the midst of the Great Depression--set the NYPL apart.According to the autobiography of noted antiquarian bookseller H. Kraus, by 1942: These [Russian palace] collections, so little known or appreciated in the West, included fabulous material, more eastern European rarities than had ever been seen in this hemisphere. In subsequent decades, up to the present day, NYPL has actively solicited donations from collectors of Russian and East European visual materials.The materials in this presentation comprise the illustrational (and, in selected cases, textual) content of nearly 100 published works dating from the period circa 1830 to 1935, although there are individual titles dating from the 18th century, as well as high-quality, limited edition 19th-century reprints of much earlier materials.

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