The Old Romanian book is a precious testimony of the Romanian people's culture. The first book was printed in 1508, in full swing of the European postincunabular era. Due to Gutenberg's invention, the first books named "incunabula" were printed between 1400-1500 in the great European centres: Venice, Mantua, Nürnberg, Augsburg, Basel, Köln, Lyon, Milano, Paris, Rome, Strasbourg etc. The term "incunabula" was borrowed from the old printing technique based on wooden moulds cut in the shape of tiny cradles.
Romania is one of the first countries who introduced printing immediately after 1500.
Macarie, a hieromonk who learned the art of printing in Venice, started his activity at Târgovişte, the capital of Wallachia, with support from Prince Radu the Great.
The first print - Macarie's Missal was issued in 1508. The Romanian Book of Hymns followed, in 1510 and The Slavonic Four Gospels, in 1512. The three writings printed by Macarie spread not only in the Romanian regions, but also in some of the Balkan monasteries and in several European libraries. They were in format 4, with 15-22 lines on the page, without title-page (like the manuscripts and the incunabula) and they were divided in copy-books numbered with Cyrillic letters. The imprints are harmoniously worked: text in two colours, initials and frontispieces adorned with geometrical and floral motifs reminding of the Romanian miniature-painted manuscripts.
This beautiful craft was carried on by Dimitrie Liubavici and Moise, who printed five more religious books between 1545-1551: Prayer Book, Apostle - 2 editions, Daily Missal, Four Gospels. In the same period, Filip Moldoveanul was printing The Romanian Catechism, The Slavonic Four Gospels and The Slavonic-Romanian Four Gospels at Sibiu, Transylvania.
Between 1557-1582, deacon Coresi increased the number of the cultural testimonies written in Romanian, turning Brasov into a powerful editorial centre. Here, Coresi and his apprentices printed around 40 volumes. Towards the end of the century, Bucharest, another editorial centre, is being developped. Craftsman Laurentie worked out a Slavonic Four Gospels, here, in 1582. Examples as such may continue. We can affirm most assuredly, that the printing craft played an important role in the development of the Romanian society. Unfortunately, due to historical vicissitudes and human negligence, many values were lost or perished. Therefore, to say that now, at the last stroke, our concern is not only to preserve and restore all the surviving copies, but also to elaborate a clear record keeping, represents a beneficial statement. This also requires to make proper use of all the valuable information regarding these cultural goods. Such objectives are mostly to be fulfilled by the Collective Catalogue of the Old Romanian Books that were printed in the 1508-1830 interval (these time limits being set, as a matter of fact, by academic Ion Bianu, one of the authors of the Old Romanian Book Bibliography). This bibliographical work represents the first monumental achievement of its kind edited in the first half of the XX-iest century. It contains the majority of the titles printed in all Romanian territories during the above mentioned period. Authors: Ion Bianu, Dan Simonescu and Nerva Hodos.
Catalogues, bibliographies and studies on Old Romanian imprints edited in the last two decades are numerous, but they refer only to certain titles or collections.
National Collective Catalogues cover a large area, thus being instrumental to researchers to whom they offer precious information regarding: titles edited by a certain country in a certain period of time, editions that are known of, available copies and their state of preservation, together with the collection they belong to nowadays. This wide range of data creates the possibility for complex studies to be accomplished as far as the history of the book is concerned, including its influence upon the cultural development of a people within a specific regional frame.
Our endeavour aims to provide a clear, updated image of the titles existing all over the country and their number of copies, the preservation state and the peculiarity of each copy as well as its present holder. We are convinced that such a catalogue will make a valuable tool in the expert's hand not only of this particular field, but also in the hands of those who research the history of the Romanian science and art. The catalogue has a chronological structure being alphabetically substructured by title or by author (wherever mentioned), under each year of interest. The initial index follows the chronological order established by the O.R.B.B. (or "BRV"), being enriched with a series of later discovered titles and titles of the same period printed in Transylvania, but not included in the bibliography.
For the first presentation, we have selected the XVI-th. century titles which were described in a general bibliographical form, using the best-preserved copies found in the collections of the Romanian Academy's Library and of the National Library, as well. The whole picture will be completed by addition of another series of copies described by our local experts, with a special stress laying, in this case, on the specific features of each copy involved and on the registration of past and present holders. Specificity refers to: preservation state, ex-libris, manuscript notes, handmade ornaments, artistic binding.
The catalographical descriptions follow the recommendations of the ISBD (A) - adopted in Romania and adapted to the Romanian book's peculiarities. This standard, elaborated by IFLA's specialised committees, appeared in 1978, at London, under the auspices of the International Office for UBC; it was meant to facilitate worldwide transmissions of the bibliographical data and to make their interrelation possible. According to this purpose, the information was carefully categorised and organised in different areas, each with its own punctuation. Linguistic barriers were broken, as a consequence, and all the information could be converted to computer-readable forms.
Title proper = parallel title / Statement of responsibility Edition statement / Statement of responsibility relating to the edition. Publication, printing and distribution data. Physical description (details: format, number of pages). Series or collection.
Specific notes relating to the copy in hand
The Orthodox confession of the Eastern synodial and apostolic church. Printed for the second time / by the order of His Highness, (...) Ioan Constandin Nicolae Voevod ; with blessing from His Holiness the metropolitan bishop of Wallachia, kir Neofit. [Bucharest]: in the princely press in the city of Bucharest by (...) priest Stoica Iacovici the typographer, . , 172 p. ; 4 [in quarto] 20 cm
Edition area: the first edition is BRV92, bearing the same title, "from Greek, by the order... of His Highness, Prince Ioan Constantin B.B.Vv. translated into the Romanian language, by Radul chancellor Greceanul", Buzau, 1691.
printed ornaments, the double coat of arms of Constantin Mavrocordat with his initials represented on the verso of the title-page
ex libris manuscript by person: priest Gheorghe (on the guard leaf, recto), kir Hristu Papa (on the guard leaf, r. and v.) , Stoianovici, 1816, March 7 (on the g. l. v.), N.D. Petrus (the only one in Latin alphabet, on the final blank page , r.)
notes relating to the circulation of the book and the book's price: on the g. l. r. (priest Gheorghe) and on the g. l. v. (Stoianovici)
deteriorated period binding.
The card indexes for old books were created in cooperation with experts from all over the country. They elaborated the record-keeping cards especially designed for mobile cultural goods, between 1983-1989. A number of researchers from the Institute for Cultural Memory (the former computer centre of the SCC) have made corrections or filled in the missing data wherever possible, by comparing the already recorded information to the information found in old book catalogues edited so far, or consulting the copies from the National Library's and the Romanian Academy Library's collections.
We are aware that certain errors, which could not be rectified, are still present and most of all - absent data, which will be filled in only by cooperation with our colleagues from county libraries and county patrimonial agencies. This situation resulted from the fact that, in this particular field each copy is considered individually, having a unique value. Very many colleagues have not responded to our frequent appeals to finish the old book records and to complete the data they omitted to send in the first stage of this project. Only those who have access to the collections and are able to do the research upon the copies in view, are also entitled to rectify and complete the scientific information.
Therefore we repeat our appeal once again, especially now, in the last moment, when the hard work of a series of researchers of our field has taken visible shape also on the Internet, so that we may gain support in verifying the authenticity of certain pieces of information, in completing the missing data and also in describing the unrecorded titles that belong to some library collections, museums, episcopal centres and churches.
Finally, we intent to edit CD and hard copies of the Complete Collective Catalogue of the Old Romanian Books which still exist all over the country and also to investigate the possibility of obtaining data referring to those editions and copies which nowadays appear in foreign collections.
This work will make the spiritual picture of the Romanian society look as a whole, as far as the specific period of time in which the books were printed, read and circulated around the country is concerned, also the picture of the modern cultural life whose concern is to know and to protect these values.