The Moscow Kremlin Museums collection preserves over 500 manuscript and early printed books.

The oldest monument of the collection is the manuscript Greek Gospel of the XIIIth century. The latest examples are printed books of the early XXth century. There are only about 60 manuscript books in the collection, all of them are unique. A lot of manuscripts, including vellums – manuscripts made on parchment, are adorned with miniatures, colourful figured initials and ornaments. Such perfect examples of Russian manuscript books as Aprakos Gospel from the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin (first quarter of the XVth century), the Godunov’s Book of Psalms with miniatures (the late XVIth century), “Book on the Election to the Most High Throne of the Sovereign, Tsar and Grand Prince Mikhail Fyodorovich”, “The Alphabet Book” by Karion Istomin (the second part of the XVIIth century) and some other manuscripts.

The main part of the collection consists of early printed books in the Cyrillic font. The oldest printed book in the Kremlin’s collection is the Book of Psalms edited by printer Makariy in 1494 in Montenegro. Books printed at the Moscow printing court prevail in the collection. There are also editions of the printing-houses of other towns - Kiev, Lviv, Wilno – presented in the collection. Books are illustrated with gravures, and generously adorned with an engraved ornament. In some cases the ornament is coloured by hand with paints and gold. The majority of editions are church books, such as Gospels, Apostles, Psalms, Missals, Hour-Books etc. because of the repertoire of the printing-houses.

There is also a small number of secular books in the collection, such as “The work on rhetoric” (a manuscript of the XVIIth century), a text-book on military science (translation of the work by Johann Jakob von Wallhausen), the first Russian printed secular book - “The Grammar” by Meletius Smotrytsky (1648) and some others. The books have artistic bindings made by the most skilled masters of that time of wood and cardboard faced covered with cloth or leather (often with gold or silver embossing). Setting bindings are typical for the Sacred Scriptures. Precious covers of Gospels of a significant artistic value were made in different epochs by Russian jewelers, including masters of the Moscow Kremlin Workshops. The major part of items comes from cathedrals and monasteries of the Moscow Kremlin. However, the collections have not survived as separate ones.

Explore the collections of the Moscow Kremlin Museums online