Rare Books


Special Collections' Rare Books unit preserves approximately 50,000 titles dating from a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible (ca. 1456) to recent first editions. These include a wide range of formats, from miniatures no larger than one inch high, to volumes forty inches tall; from five-hundred year-old books in as fine a condition as the day they were printed to twentieth-century first editions crumbing from the acidity of their paper.

Besides individual books, Special Collections houses book collections that bring together groupings of volumes on a particular topic. Subjects represented are broad, but some areas of special interest are:

  • The French and American Revolutions
  • Book illustration and illustrators
  • History of the printed word and book
  • European Studies
  • French and francophone language and culture
  • Dog and cat books, particularly historical or illustrated/unusual works
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Natural history, particularly historical works on botany
  • Edward Gorey (books by and about)
  • William Faulkner (works by and about)
  • Incunabula (works printed in Europe before 1501)
  • Kelmscott Press publications
  • Medieval works (original and facsimile editions)
  • Book art/artist's books, including miniature books
  • German and Swiss history and literature
  • British Shire Histories
  • Travel Narratives
  • Philosophical and Religious Texts

Department Director