The TELEKI COLLECTION was formed under the influence of the Enlightenment. Beside two editions of the French Encyclopaedia, Sámuel Teleki bought the best scientific encyclopaedias and all publications of European science societies and academies. The books are mostly in Latin, Ancient Greek, German, French and Hungarian, but there are a great number of publications in other European and Oriental languages as well. The founder bought books from 25 European towns. During six decades of systematic collection he managed to acquire all basic scientific works including all books published since the beginnings of printing.
Sámuel Teleki was an avid collector of rare books. The most valuable manuscript, a Corvina (a codex formerly belonging to King Matthas Corvinus’s famous library) was unfortunately taken to the United States shortly before World War II. The library boasts 52 incunabula, unique copies, rare prints, editio princepses and original editions. Teleki also collected masterpieces of Aldo Manuzio, Giunta, Estienne, Plantin, Elzevir, Frobenius, Bodoni, Heltai Gáspár and Tótfalusi Kis Miklós, and placed great importance on acquiring the best editions of the Greek and Latin classics.
Many volumes are illustrated by famous artists like Hans Holbein the younger, Rubens, Lucas Cranach, Bernard Picard and Dürer. Beside numerous illuminated atlases, maps and albums, there are a lot of books on ancient art, e.g. 29 volumes of engravings signed by Giovanni Battista and Francesco Piranesi, The description of Egypt in 21 volumes etc. and some books presenting the collections of European museums.
Teleki's wife, Zsuzsanna Bethlen de Iktár, also possessed a significant library of her own. Her collection, the result of three generations’ interest in books, contains approximately 2,000 volumes. It is the only 18th century Transylvanian noblewoman’s library that has been left to us as a whole.