Misappropriated copy of valuable 17th-century work returned to National and University Library in Zagreb

Objavljeno 17.7.2019.

Selenographia, sive Lunae descriptio, a copy of a famous 17th-century work by Jan Heweliusz (Johannes Hevelius) has been returned to the National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK), 32 years after it was misappropriated from the Library’s collections in 1987.

Printed in Gdańsk in 1647, as an astronomical treatise and atlas of the Moon, Selenographia contains one of the earliest detailed maps of the Moon’s surface. It also includes names for many of the Moon’s features some of which are still in use. Its author, Jan Heweliusz, a Polish nobleman who apart from being astronomer was also a city councillor in Gdańsk, wrote it referring to Galileo Galilei’s Sidereus Nuncius (The Sidereal Messenger, 1610).

The book’s return to Croatia is a result of many years of cooperation between the National and University Library in Zagreb and the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage at the Croatian Ministry of Culture, the joint efforts of the Croatian and Italian police forces, as well as the work of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the Italian Republic.

The recovered book was returned to Croatia on 4 July 2019, and restored to the Library’s Manuscripts and Old Books Collection the following day. Present at the return ceremony were the Director General of the National and University Library in Zagreb Tatijana Petrić, Head of the Library’s Manuscripts and Old Books Collection Irena Galić Bešker, NSK International Cooperation Adviser Jasenka Zajec, Head of the NSK Marketing and Communications Section Sandi Antonac and the representative of the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage at the Croatian Ministry of Culture art historian Tamara Ganochi Frisch.