Glasgow University Emblem Website

Glasgow University Library's pre-eminent position in the Emblem field derives from its ownership of the Stirling Maxwell Collection of Emblem Books, the largest such collection in the world. A detailed description of the collection is available. Entries for the whole collection are found in the Library Catalogue; there is also a call number list. Responsible for the up-keep and development of the collection is the Special Collections Department (, to whom enquiries about its use should be addressed.

Within the University there is a strong research interest in Emblem Studies, based in the Centre for Emblem Studies. The Publication series Glasgow Emblem Studies appears annuallly. The Centre's Research Seminar, Glasgow Emblem Group, meets five or six times a year, and welcomes local and visiting scholars. The Sir William Stirling Maxwell Fellowship provides a framework for scholars wishing to visit Glasgow in order to use the Stirling Maxwell Collection. For all enquiries concerning the Centre and its activities, please contact Alison Adams (

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What is an Emblem?

An Emblem is a symbolic picture with accompanying text, of a type which developed in the sixteenth century and enjoyed an enormous vogue for the next 200 years or more, when several thousand emblem books issued from printing presses throughout Europe. Along with personal imprese-devices that expressed the values or aspirations of a particular individual rather than a general moral-emblems communicate moral, political, or religious values in ways that have to be decoded by the viewer. Emblem books exercised an enormous influence on literature and the visual arts, and therefore they have long attracted the attention of scholars interested in painting, decorative arts, literature, illustrated books, iconography, symbolism, theories of representation, social and cultural history.

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About the Glasgow Projects

While the University of Glasgow has hosted a modest emblems website for more than ten years, the current site is the fruit of a series of international collaborative workshops and seminars, starting with a meeting in Glasgow in June 2001. Further meetings in Palma Mallorca, La Coruña, Wolfenbüttel and Champaign-Urbana both established agreed standards to which emblem digitisation should aspire and in effect achieved an amicable division of the corpus between different interest groups. Thus Glasgow took responsibility to develop its existing interest in French material (supported by generous funding from the Arts and Humanities Reseach Council) and in Alciato (supported by funding from the British Academy); Donato Mansueto's Italian site (developed with European funding under the Marie Curie scheme) also exploits the riches of Glasgow's collections. During the course of the projects, further meetings and workshops were held with our international collaborators, and regular contact with our consultant David Graham (Concordia University, Montreal) and the teams at Mnemosyne and the Emblem Project Utrecht have been essential in their development. Data from Glasgow projects and those of our collaborators will be harvested and made available through the OpenEmblem Portal.

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Links to the sites of the various participants in the international collaborative effort are given here.

OpenEmblem initiative: An international initiative hosted by the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, home of one of the largest emblem book collections. Among other things the aim is to access emblems published on the web, using a single search mechanism. The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana also hosts: German Emblem Books: A Digital Imaging Project:

Grupo de Investigacion sobre Literatura Emblematica Hispanica: Universidade da Coruna: The site includes a good secondary bibliography.

Wolfenbüttel: Herzog August Bibliothek:The Library hosts Emblematica Online:

Emblem Project Utrecht: Houses more than 20 Dutch loveemblem books.

Bavarian State Library Project, Munich: "Digitalisierung von ausgewählten Emblembüchern der frühen Neuzeit". The project sets out to provide digital versions of emblem books unlikely to be mounted elsewhere. The selection is indeed interestingly eclectic.

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French Project: Contents

For full details see the French Emblems at Glasgow website.

Alciato, Andrea:
Livret des emblemes, 1536
Emblemes, 1549
Emblemata / Les emblemes, 1584
Les emblemes, 1615

Aneau, Barthélemy:
Picta poesis, 1552
Imagination poetique, 1552

Bèze, Théodore de:
Icones, 1580
Les vrais Pourtraits, 1581

Boissard, Jean Jacques:
Emblematum Liber / Emblemes latins..., 1588
Emblematum Liber, 1593
Emblemes ... mis de Latin en françois, 1595

Corrozet, Gilles:
Hecatomgraphie, 1540
Emblemes in Cebes, Le tableau, 1543

Coustau, Pierre:
Le pegme, 1560
Pegma, 1555

Gueroult, Guillaume:
Le premier livre des emblemes, 1550

Junius, Hadrianus:
Les emblesmes, 1567
Emblemata, 1565

La Perrière, Guillaume de:
Le thëatre des bons engins, 1544
Morosophie, 1553

Montenay, Georgette de:
Emblemes ou devises chestiennes, 1571
Emblematum Christianorum centuria / Cent emblemes chrestiens, 1584

Paradin, Claude:
Devises heroïques, 1551
Devises heroïques, 1557

Sambucus, Joannes:
Les emblemes, 1567
Emblemata, 1564

Scève, Maurice:
Delie, 1544

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Italian Project: Contents

For full details see the The Study and Digitisation of Italian Emblems website.

Alciato, Andrea, Diverse imprese, 1551
Bocchi, Achille, Symbolicarum quaestionum, 1574
Ruscelli, Girolamo, Imprese illustri, 1584
Giovio, Paolo (Domenichi, L.; Simeoni, G.), Dialogo dell'imprese, 1574
Pittoni, Giovanni Battista / Dolce, Lodovico, Imprese, 1568
Pittoni, Giovanni Battista / Dolce, Lodovico, Imprese II, 1566
Contile, Luca, Ragionamento, 1574

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Contents of the Alciato Project

For full details see the Alciato at Glasgow website.

Emblematum liber, Augsburg, 1531 (2 editions)
Emblematum liber, Augsburg, 1534
Emblematum liber, Paris, 1534
Les Emblemes, Paris, 1539
Emblematum liber (with German), Paris, 1542
Les Emblemes, Paris, 1542
Emblematum libellus, Venise, 1546
Los Emblemas, Lyon, 1549
Emblemata, Lyon, 1550
Emblemata, Lyon, 1551
Emblemata (with Stockhamer commentary), Lyon, 1556
Toutes les emblemes, Lyon, 1558
Liber emblematum ... Kunstbuch, Frankfurt am Main, 1567
Emblemata, Leiden, 1591 
Declaración magistral sobre las Emblemas, Najera, 1615 
Emblematum liber, Padua, 1621

Also included here is

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Copyright and Reproduction

The copyright of all transcribed material in edited pages, along with the associated data files,and design, resides with the University of Glasgow, and due acknowledgement of this should be made by users. For the images, copyright also resides with the University of Glasgow, with the exception of those drawn from the 1544 edition of Scève's Délie, and the liminary material of the 1571 edition of Montenay's Emblemes, ou devises chrestiennes, for which copyright belongs to the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford; and the 1595 edition of Boissard's Emblemes... nouvellement mis de Latin en François, for which copyright belongs the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris. No images may be reproduced without the express permission of the appropriate copyright holder.

To order images of publishable standard, please apply:

Applications for permission to reproduce images from Glasgow University Library should be addressed in writing to the Senior Librarian, Special Collections, University of Glasgow Library, Hillhead Street, Glasgow G12 8QE, Scotland. (e-mail:

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We welcome feedback. Comments should be addressed to

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Other Research Aids

Mignault's Theoretical Work on the Emblem

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