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Special Collections has a small but diverse collection of private press material. While these books have never been consciously collected by the Library and are not, therefore, gathered together as a collection in their own right, a good sample of such work has accumulated by means of odd volumes scattered throughout various collections. These are brought together here in a list of some 130 books produced by 54 different presses from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. Early presses represented include eighteenth-century books from Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill Press, as well as items from the Auchinleck and Auchwedden Presses (two early Scottish private presses). Most of the books, however, are products of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century revival of interest in fine presswork, with many examples from the Kelmscott, Golden Cockerel and Nonesuch Presses. The work of the United States is well represented in the collection, with examples such as those from the Bird & Bull and Anvil Presses. Lesser known establishments - such as the Porpoise, Candle and Abbey Presses - are also found.
As well as a listing of the books available in Special Collections, some digitised examples from the more famous of the presses, along with brief details about each, are provided in the pages listed below. It has not been possible to digitise examples from some of the more modern presses (such as those from the Golden Cockerel Press) because of copyright restrictions; students are therefore encouraged to explore the list provided, and to visit Special Collections to examine the books for themselves.