Top Item

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In the autumn of 2014 the Flemish Government decided to adopt an item from the University of Antwerp Library's Special Collections in the Top Items List. This means that the Flemish Top Item Decree officially recognizes its status as rare and necessary cultural heritage, which needs to be preserved in Flanders for the Flemish Community, because of its special archaeological, historical, artistic or scholarly value. There are special restoration grants for such top items, and certain rules of protection apply regarding the physical treatment of the object and its transportation outside of Flanders.

MAG-P 13.1522

The object in question is known as shelfmark MAG-P 13.1522 and consists of a collection of play programs (both in manuscript and in print) in quarto, bound in semi-imitational leather. At first sight, this collection does not seem extraordinary at all - the reason for its status as a top item is its contents, rather than its form.

In the past, people were just the same as today: they too usually threw away their play programs after a play was finished. This is why this compilation of 253 play programs from the seventeenth and eightteenth century is a truly remarkably object. Nowhere else have than many play programs been preserved as in this collection.

The programs themselves come from various Jesuit colleges from the Provincia Flandria Belgica (the Southern Netherlands) and shed light on the period 1678-1771. That way, we come to know a great deal about the titles, the stage moments and even the individual actors from the Early Modern school plays in our region. The collection not only contains printed, but also manuscript programs, and also features a full manuscript version of the rare play Athanes.

View the top item online!

A complete list of these alphabetically arranged play programs and a full digital version of the top item can be found on our digital platform.