Rare Books

Rare Book Collection

This collection houses McDermott Library books considered too rare for placement in the general stacks. Many are old, some dating back to the fifteen and sixteen-hundreds, some are limited editions, first editions, and some are signed by the author. There is no subject focus for this collection.

The Dr. Ludwig Michael Book Collection

Dr. Michael’s collection includes a number of important and rare books. One item on display is a two volume edition of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary from 1755, which Dr. Michael had rebound. Another significant book is Poems of the Old South, a 1879 collection of works by many great 19th century American authors including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Julia Ward Howe, and Edward Everett Hale.

The History of the Book Collection

From the hand drawn pages of an illuminated manuscript to the custom bindings of a private press volume, creators have looked for ways to turn the book into not just an object, but an artwork. The History of the Book Collection was created to illustrate a number of rare types and examples of the creativity to be found in the creation of the book.


  • Hevres Nouvellles Tirées de la Sainte Ecriture – Louis Senault, 1720?

    A French book of hours (an illustrated devotional book of prayers, parables, and religious information), this book honors Saint Roch (a 14th century French Saint associated with curing the plague) and may be connected to calling for the Saint’s intercession during a 1720 outbreakof the plague in the port city of Marseilles in 1720.

  • Juvenalis. Persius – Decimus Junius Juvénal, 1801

    Printed as part of the Augustinian revival and fashion for things related to the ancient Roman Empire, that swept Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this volume contains sixteen satires penned by the Roman poet Juvenal (ca. 60 –ca. 130) as well as six satires by the Stoic philosopher Persius (34-62). Of note is that these satires are written in the form of acrostics, where the first letter of each line form a word or message vertically down the page.

  • The Pleasures of Reason: Or the Hundred Thoughts of a Sensible Young Lady – Robert Gillet, 1796

    Typical of many works of the 18th century, this a book designed to serve as a “conduct manual” for a young lady, offering advice on how to act rationally, perform good works, manage a household, and other related topics.

  • La Corbeillie de Fruits – Charles Malo [1815 –1821]

    This book provides a guide for the planting, harvesting, and use of 11 different kinds of fruit, with each fruit illustrated by a colored engraving.

  • The English Bijou Almanac

    The miniature book on display in this collection is The English Bijou Almanac for 1836. Published by Albert Schloss, the book features six engraved portraits of famous figures of arts and culture (this volume includes Lord Byron and the Renaissance Master Raphael), as well as poems by Letitia Elizabeth Landon, a 19th century English woman of letters. The book also contained a calendar, and a list of the members of the British Royal Family as well as the Crown Heads of Europe. These miniature books illustrated just one of the many ways bookmaking has been turned into an elaborate art form over the years.

  • Specimens of the Early English Poets – Edited by George Ellis 1790

    This rare volume of English poetry, printed by Edwards of Halifax, is a fine example of the book art of fore-edge painting. Fore-edge painting is a technique whereby an image is painted on the front part of the book, visible when the pages are fanned. Fore-edge paintings often depict country scenes of great estates and parklands.


Search the titles in the Rare Books Collection

For more information, contact the Curator of the Belsterling Collection and Rare Books, Madeline Hoff

Page Last Updated: February 1, 2020