Lüthi Bible collection

Laufmeter Bibeln aus der Bibelsammlung Lüthi
An excerpt from the Lüthi Bible collection
© NL, Nuria Marti

Karl Jakob Lüthi (1876–1958) was the librarian of the Schweizerische Landesbibliothek (SLB), the original Swiss National Library. With the acquisition of 25 old Bibles in 1900, he laid the foundations for a Bible collection that he continued to add to until 1956. In 1931 he donated the collection to the Library.

Content and scope

  • Around 5,000 Bibles and Bible texts as well as manuscripts, some illuminated, in 450 languages and dialects, together with commentaries and historical investigations
  • The collection includes the Polyglot Psalter of Justinian (Genoa 1516), the first Low-German Bible in Luther’s translation (1533), a special edition of the Elzevier Bible (1669) in a violet Morocco binding, a New Testament in Chinese printed on wood panels (1813) and the first edition of the New Testament in Kalmyk and Mongolian dating from 1827.
  • Archival documents such as manuscript lists of especially important Bibles, typescripts by Lüthi on the history and creation of the collection, documentation on Bible exhibitions, photo portraits of Lüthi, correspondence, etc.

Collection principles

  • The Bible collection was donated to the National Library in 1931 on the opening of its current premises. This rich and varied collection complements those of other libraries.

Research and access

  • The Bible collection can be viewed by appointment.
  • The holdings are catalogued in an alphabetical and chronological card index.
  • Use of the individual volumes is subject to certain restrictions.
  • Around 1,200 specimens from the Bible collection can also be consulted electronically in the Helveticat online library catalogue, under the reference code SL:
  • In 1931, to mark the receipt of the gift, the Library published a printed catalogue of the Karl J. Lüthi collection that can be consulted via Helveticat: “Die Bibel in der Schweiz und in der der Welt”, Bern 1931:
  • A description of the holdings in the Lüthi Bible collection can be found in the HelveticArchives database

Last modification 21.11.2018

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