Korneli Kekelidze National Centre of Manuscripts holds rich collections of old-printed and rare books, most of which are preserved in the rare-publications cabinet founded in 2007 (from 2016, the cabinet was re-named in honour of famous scientist and public character Kristine Sharashidze). This collection comprises of 1749 printed publications, including: Lamberti A. – Relatione della Colchide hoggi detta Mengrellia, Neapolli 1654 (Rar. 285), Novum Testamonetum Syriace – 1621 (Rar. 324), Book of Life, 18th Century, (Rar. 580), Psalms, 18th Century (Rar. 579), Minea, full collection (Rar. 844-852), Scapula J. – Lexicon Greco-Latinum, Lugduni- 1663, Liturgical collection in Armenian, Rome, 1725, Pentateuch in Hebrew, 1642 (Rar. 840), Quran (miniature 2×3.5) N6198, French explanatory dictionary (3×3.5, miniature) N6199.
The collection of the first Georgian books, which contains 303 items, is placed separately. The important exhibits include: Rar. -52/2 Georgian-Italian dictionary, Rar. 27/1a – Georgian Alphabet with prayers (1629), which was printed in Rome, at Roman Catholic Faith Society Printing-house – Poliglota”. Both title pages, alongside with Italian publisher Stefane Paolini, Nikifore Irbakh (Cholokashvili, ambassador of King Teimuraz I).
In the same Printing-house, in 1610, the work of Missionary Mario Maggio “About Eastern Languages”, which is preserved in Georgia (Rar. – 860), was printed. This book is a manual book for Georgian grammar, being printed in Europe.
In 1741, David’s Christianity Doctrine was printed (Rar. 32/1). In 1709, with King Vakhtang the 6th initiative, the printing-house was established, which then influenced foundation of national polygraphy (existed till 1722).
The rare-publications cabinet holds 8 books from the Georgian printing-house: 1. Gospels (Rar. 9/2), Acts of Apostles (Rar. 4/3), Prayer book, 1710 (Rar. 15/1a), Kontakion, 1710 (Rar. 51/2), Germane the Priest teachings, 1711 (Rar. 12/1a), Book of David’s Psalms, 1711 (Rar. 69/2), “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” by Shota Rustaveli, 1712 (Rar. 6/3), Book of Hours, 1717 (Rar. 14/1a).
It is noteworthy, that Akaki Shanidze used the facsimile edition of “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” in 1937.
In 1749, with the help of king Erekle the 2nd and Catholicon Anton 1st, the printing-house of Tbilisi was renewed. The centre preserves 27 books from the renewed printing-house: hymnals, 1722 (Rar. 35/4), Kontakion, 1783 (Rar. 44/2), prayer book, 1884 (Rar. 4/1), Gospels, 1786 (Rar. 45/4), 1791 (Rar. 3/3), Zatiki, 1788 (Rar. 51/4), Book of David’s Psalms, 1790 (Rar. 46/1), Book of Hours, 1791 (Rar. 15/1), Book of Apostles, 1791 (Rar. 56/4), Book of Fasting, 1793 (Rar. 2/3).
In 1795, after Agha Mohammad Khan massacre in Tbilisi, book publishing had stopped. Western Georgia was the one, who started the idea of printing the books anew. In 1800-1817, the book printing centre was Imereti and Racha, Georgian regions. All editions published in these years are preserved in the fun of the Centre. Among them is the first Georgian miniature book “The pleas of the Virgin”, which was printed in the village of Tsesi, Racha. The Centre also preserves the books of Ioseb Khutsishvili and public characters who worked in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 18th century.