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Situated in an imposing building, the museum of printing and old romanian book – one of the first cultural institutions of this kind in the country – was opened for visitors on may the 11-th 1967. It is structured on rooms, showing not only the printing activity from Targoviste (starting with the XVI-th century), but also from other printing centres that appeared at a later date in Moldavia and Transylvania (the XVII-th century, the XVIII-th century), culminating with the publishing of the first newspapers with regular appearances (the XIX-th century), when the evolution of the old romanian book was finished.
The museum shows a series of aspects regarding the writing and printing development on the romanian territory, starting with the first writing form (), found on some burnt clay sheets in Tartaria, the Alba county (the IV-th century BC). Clay, bark and scroll were used until the discovery of the paper, when the first paper mills were built in our country, in order to solve this problem: Brasov (1563), Sibiu (1573), Campulung-Fierbinti (1768), Batiste, near Snagov, (1775) and "princely paper mill” from Ciorogarla (1796).
From the sumptuous lobby one goes to the XVI-th century's room, where the most important printings and manuscripts can be found. We notice “Neacsu's letter from Campulung”, sent to Hans Benkner, in 1521, the first romanian text that has been kept (the romanian language was probable used before that in it's oral form). Another exceptional manuscript is “The teachings of Neagoe Basarab to his son Teodosie”, the most important work of the old romanian literature in the slavonic language.
In order to consolidate the prestige of the Church as the main support of the state, ruler Radu the Great (1495-1508) brought monk Macarie into the country, who had already printed 5 books at Cetinje, between 1493-1495. The first books were printed in the princely printing lead by Macarie: "LITURGHIER" (1508); "OCTOIH" (1510) and "EVANGHELIAR" (1512), all in the slavonic language, that was used back then as the official language.
In 1545 the monk Moisi printed, in Dimitrie Liubavici's atelier, a “MOLITVENIC” that was followed, in 1547, by an “APOSTLE” with two editions, for Moldavia and for Tara Romaneasca, printed by Liubavici himself. In the second half of the XVI-th century Oprea logofatul printed in Brasov a “SLAVONIC OCTOIH”, and Coresi printed in Targoviste a “TRIOD PENTICOSTAR”. The basis of using the romanian language in printed books are laid in this period.
In the next room there are exhibits that belong to the XVII-th century, when the romanian language imposes itself as the language of the written culture. In Tara Romaneasca printing was resumed when Matei Basarab bought and installed a printing press in Campulung. Then he moved it to Govora. The first romanian book from Muntenia, “PRAVILA DE LA GOVORA”, was printed here in 1640. Then the printing press was moved first to Dealu Monastery, then to the metropolitan church in Targoviste, for good.
Among the books printed here is “THE STRAIGHTENING OF THE LAW” (1652), one of the first lay books from Tara Romaneasca. Other printing centres recalled in this room are: Iasi, where “CAZANIA” by Varlaam (1642-1643) was printed, Alba-Iulia (“THE NEW TESTAMENT FROM BALGRAD”, 1648), Bucuresti (“THE BIBLE”, 1688, a monumental book that tried to unite the romanian language dialects, setting the base for the literary romanian language). The busts of Moldavian bishops Varlaam and Dosoftei complete the exibits in this room.
In the XVIII-th century's room the printing activity knows a spectacular diversity: Ruler Dimitrie Cantemir's books and manuscripts (THE DESCRIPTION OF MOLDAVIA, THE HISTORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE'S RISE AND FALL) lie besides prints made by Antim Ivireanu in Targoviste (1709-1715) – SF. ECATERINA SERVICE, PANOPLIA DOGMATICA, PHILOSOPHICAL EXAMPLES, ALIXANDRIA- and by the representatives of The Transylvanian School (Samuil Micu-Klein, Petru Maior, Gheorghe Sincai, Gheorghe Lazar, Ioan Budai-Deleanu). The books are mainly religious, but dictionaries, calendares and so on can also be found.
During Constantin Brancoveanu's reign new print presses were installed in Buzau, The Snagov monastery and Ramnicu Valcea, besides the one in Bucharest, which had a section in the greek language. Arab, greek and turkish books were printed in Brancoveanu's print presses, in adition to those printed in the romanian or slavonic language.
The last room belongs to the XIX-th century, when the latin alphabet was adopted.
A special attention is paid to the printing ornaments, waist ink-pots, seal rings and cult objects that can be found inside this museum.
In the big hall the visitors can admire a printing press dated 1778, as well as a shop window in which books printed in famous european cultural centres are exposed.
The development of culture and old romanian book presents the visitor with princeps editions, rare books and plastic art.