Minervalia: 177 km and 12,500 euros away from Maastricht
A small book of great value, that is ‘Minervalia’. It is the oldest comedy book printed in Maastricht. Under the motto ‘culture from Maastricht belongs in Maastricht’, the Maastricht University Library and the Limburg University Fund/SWOL want to bring this rare publication back to its roots. That is why a special crowdfunding campaign has been started.
Imagine: it is 1554 and you work as a printer. The deteriorating economic conditions of your first place of residence, Leuven, have brought you to Maastricht. You hope to find more work in this city, but that is not easy either. Hundreds of years after your death, it appears that in Maastricht you helped to bring something unique to life: the book ‘Minervalia’. An ode to Minerva, goddess of wisdom and art, among other things, who encourages people to strive for greatness, virtue and excellence.
The scenario above happened to printer Jacob Baethen. The work ‘Minervalia’ that was printed by him is unique. It is a centuries-old book that was actually printed in Maastricht with exceptional typography. Worldwide, there are currently only five copies of this publication available. However, one copy is remarkably close to Maastricht; it is located 177 kilometres from the city, at a rare books shop in Houten. This antique bookshop has offered the book to the Maastricht University Library. The price has been reduced for a short time; 12,500 euros is needed. You get the message: ‘Mission Minervalia’ has begun!
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The online platform UM Crowd is managed by the Limburg University Fund/SWOL. The platform forms the bridge between innovative projects by students and academics from Maastricht University and the general public. Initiatives within the university are given a stage on UM Crowd, which enables students and staff to raise the target amount for their project.
Visit UM Crowd
“As curator of Maastricht University’s Special Collections, I think it would be fantastic if we succeeded in bringing ‘Minervalia’ back to Maastricht!” That is why the library, together with the Limburg University Fund, has set up a crowdfunding campaign through UM Crowd. This is Maastricht University’s new online crowdfunding platform. “With every donation, the book gets another mile closer to home”, says Essers. “Cultural heritage lovers should definitely not miss it.”
Not under lock and key
You may be wondering what will happen to ‘Minervalia’ when it is purchased. It is a rare book; will it not just disappear into a safe? Odin Essers: “We want ‘Minervalia’ to travel around and exhibit in the region. In this way, we can bring the cultural heritage to everyone—including to you. We will also use this publication for education and research at Maastricht University. In the meantime, the Maastricht University Library will be a safe home base. If ‘Minervalia’ returns, it will be the oldest piece in the library's Special Collections!”
A full agenda
Odin has one final argument to convince the public to contribute to the ‘Minervalia project’. He says: “People often return to their birthplace to retire there. Why shouldn’t that apply to this age-old book?” It is an argument that indeed makes sense—even if it is only ‘Minervalia’ that will get that place of rest when the crowdfunders manage to bring the publication back. The agenda of this special book seems to be pretty full…
The crowdfunding campaign for ‘Minervalia’ will go live on 15 March. The kick-off will take place during the Maastricht Antiquarian Book and Print Fair. In the following weeks, various promotions and messages will be in advertising throughout the city and on social media. Visit www.umcrowd.nl for more information and the latest news about ‘Minervalia’ and the campaign. People can also contribute to the project through this website.
Odin Essers, curator of Maastricht University's Special Collections
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