The ″Wagenseil library″ consists of about 300 printed books that have been collected by Johann Christian Wagenseil (1633-1705), professor of law and Oriental languages at the University Altdorf. After Wagenseil′s death, his ancestors sold his collection 1708 to the University at Altdorf. To achieve a sounder basis for Hebrew study the University made an inventory of Wagenseil′s library, the ″Catalogus Libb. Rabb. Hebr. et Philolog. B. Wagenseilii – UER MS 2851″.
The Wagenseil collection includes over 150 Hebraica, that means books of Jews for Jews in Hebrew script. There are also 55 volumes of Hebraica which were written by Christians and a wide range of philological literature, dealing with Ethiopean, Arab, Greek, Japanese, Persian and Syrian works. The ″Wagenseil library″ focuses on bibles (bilingual or multilingual editions), Talmud, grammar books and dictionaries. The collection contains also history books and rare books about German-Jewish literature.
There are many items within the ″Wagenseil library″ that deserve highlighting: some of the oldest printings of this collection are Elia Levita ″Capitula Cantici…″, Basel 1527 (VK 248/1) und Moses Maimonides ″Logica Sapientis…″, Basel 1527 (VK 248/2). In this context the oldest Arabic printing of Avicenna′s ″Canon″, Rom 1592, different works of Thomas Erpenius (1584-1624), a famous scholar from Leiden, and some early Syrian prints from Paris have to be mentioned.