The Dieterichs Collection was purchased by the Advocates Library in 1820 from the estate of George Septimus Dieterichs (1721-1807), Count Palatine and Senator of Regensburg.
Dieterichs' vast library of law, history, numismatics and forensic medicine contained 100,000 dissertations from academic institutions of the Holy Roman Empire, together with a large number of polemical tracts from leading figures of the Reformation. With the Leipzig bookseller Johann Frederick Gleditsch as contact, the Library was able to purchase the bulk of the collection at a very advantageous price thanks to the chaos following the Napoleonic wars. The subsequent costs of packing, shipping and storage, duty and porterage quadrupled the costs on arrival,and its size almost doubled the Library's holdings.Small wonder perhaps that it was promptly abandoned in a damp cellar for many years.
In the 1950s, with the establishment of the National Library of Scotland, the collection was divided, with the Faculty retaining the legal material. In 2001 work began to add all the items in the collection to the Library’s on-line catalogue. This work is now complete and many beautiful and rare bindings have been discovered, such as the Dutch Gilt Papers displayed here. There are also a great many elaborate and highly detailed engravings of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and bookplates composed of the complex coats-of-arms of the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire.