A large collection of books covering an extremely wide range of topics, areas such as literature and natural history are particularly well represented.
In addition to the books mentioned within the various named collections, the Library holds a large number of miscellaneous books accumulated via donation, purchase and transfer from the main library stock. This Rare Books collection contains works predominantly pre-1800 in date, but also included are items such as 19th-century colour plate books and works emanating from private presses (including several examples of the work of the Kelmscott Press).
How to find material from the Rare Books collection
- Entries for this collection are catalogued with the shelf-marks Sp Coll, RB, RQ, RF and RX and may be explored via the shelf-mark option of the rare books search (e.g. type "Sp Coll RB" to bring up a listing of all the books given this shelf-mark; "Sp Coll RQ" for the RQ sequence etc.)
- There are other smaller pressmark sequences of books that do not fall into any of the collections. For example, the Bf sequence (mainly donations from the early 20th century)
See also the following 'book of the month' articles that feature items from the Rare Books collection:
- Robert Burns Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect Edinburgh: 1787 (Book of the month: January 2009)
- Japanese Prints of the Russo-Japanese War Japan: 1903-1904 (Book of the month: March 2008)
- William Blake Europe: A Prophecy Lambeth: 1794 (Book of the month: November 2007)
- James de Carle Sowerby & Edward Lear Tortoises, terrapins and turtles London: 1872 (Book of the month: September 2007)
- John Gould The Birds of Australia London: 1840-1848 (Book of the month: July 2005)
- William Daniell and Richard Ayton A voyage round Great Britain London: 1814-1825 (Book of the month: March 2005)
- Curtis's Botanical Magazine London: 1787- (Book of the month: October 2004)
- Belägerung der Statt Ostende Cologne?: 1604-05 (Book of the month: March 2004)
- Robert Carswell Pathological Anatomy London: 1838 (Book of the month: October 2003)
- Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol London: 1843 (Book of the month: December 1999)