The ULB Düsseldorf holds a very extensive collection of about 1,000 prints from the 15th century, so-called incunabula. Like the medieval manuscripts and other old prints, these early prints largely originate from the former Royal State Library in Düsseldorf. This predecessor institution of the ULB received the book collections from about 25 Rhenish and Westphalian monasteries in the course of the first half of the 19th century - the age of secularization. Since 1977, the entire incunabula collection has been housed at the University of Düsseldorf, where it is available to scholars and researchers. The owner is the city of Düsseldorf.
The ULB's cradle prints are listed in the most important reference works for incunabula, such as the "Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke," and described in detail in a printed "Inkunabelkatalog"by Heinz Finger. In addition, the title records of the printed catalog have been transferred to the Online Search Portal, which offers the possibility of researching and ordering the originals. The catalog can be used under professional supervision in the "Sonderlesesaal" (special reading room).
Since 2011, the ULB Düsseldorf has been successively digitizing its entire stock of incunabula in order to preserve the physical stock and at the same time make the works accessible to international incunabula research. Due to the specimen-specific features that are the essence of these very early prints (e.g., handwritten colored headings, initials, or hand-painted miniatures), multiple copies of individual editions are also being digitized. The entries of the incunabula catalog can be viewed directly via a link below the respective digitized item. The navigation on the left side allows direct access via author/participating illustrators, place of printing, printer/publisher and year.