A page showing a model of the
world from Joannes de Sacro Bosco's
Sphaera Ioannis de Sacro
Vinetiis : Apud Hieronymum
The Rare Book Collection is diverse. Holdings span the eighth to the twentieth centuries and include early manuscripts and manuscript fragments, printed books, periodicals, pamphlets, and broadsides. The collection contains important first editions of classical authors and authors of world importance, limited editions, association copies, and autographed copies in addition to works deemed rare by virtue of age.
Holdings: 35,000 volumes.
With a few exceptions, the collection is cataloged and can be accessed through MERLIN, the online catalog of the University of Missouri. The collection heading for RARE is, Rare Book Collection (University of Missouri--Columbia. Libraries). Additional guides to portions of the collection are available; see Guides and Indexes.
The collection does not circulate. Rare books may be used in the Special Collections reading room during service hours or by appointment.
The Rare Book Collection is strong in Dada and Surrealist literature as well as books of trades and street cries. Seventeenth century book collector John Bagford's manuscript leaves and fragments, Fragmenta Manuscripta, dating from the eighth to the seventeenth century, offer scholars examples of book hands, decorations, and texts. Most notable are a fragment from Chaucer's translation of Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy, Bede's De Orthographia, and manuscript leaves from the atelier of Geofroy Tory.
Additionally, the collection is strong in some specific genres and subjects:
A painted vellum book cover
from Le metamorfosi di Ovidio.
Venice: Zaltieri, 1607.
The history of printing and the book arts is one of the primary interests of Special Collections. Highlights of this collection area include:
Also available are more than 300 examples from the Limited Editions Club, which were gifts from Dr. and Mrs. Fred W. Billerbeck, William J. Kerr, and J. P. Green. Notable examples from the Limited Editions Club are Aristophanes' Lysistrata, illustrated by Pablo Picasso (1934), James Joyce's Ulysses, illustrated by Henri Matisse (1935), and Octavio Paz's Three Poems, illustrated with Robert Motherwell's lithographs (1987).
This material is supplemented by a related uncatalogued collection of Press Ephemera, which consists of prospectuses and announcements issued by fine private presses over the last twenty years.
London, E. Husbands, June 15. 1643.
The Rare Book Collection houses a large collection of seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century English tracts, sometimes referred to as the Howey Collection. These pamphlets are now fully catalogued and integrated into the Rare Collection. They are especially rich in works about English religious life and controversies. For example, more than 200 deal with the Popish Plot of 1678. Anonymous pamphlets on a variety of political topics now attributed to Daniel Defoe are also available. Of special interest locally are the sermons and related works associated with St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a church designed by Christopher Wren that was moved from London to Fulton, Missouri, in the 1960s.
Guides to selected parts of these tracts include:
English Dissent; Catalogue to an Exhibition of Eighteenth Century Pamphlets, 18 October to 18 November 1979 by Margaret A. Howell and Charles F. Mullett.
Special Collections is working toward digitization of selected pamphlets, and many are already available through the UM Digital Library. See Digital Collections for more information.
Portrayals of Death encountering people from all walks of life have appeared on church and cemetery wall-paintings, in the decorations of ecclesiastical architecture, and in illustrated manuscripts and books. The Libraries have collected printed works in the three main traditions of the Dance:
The earliest Holbein edition in the collection is Icones Mortis (1547), which contains fifty-three illustrations. Others are Abraham à Sancta Clara's De Kapelle der Dooden (1764), William Combe's The English Dance of Death (1815-1816), Alfred Kubin's Die Blätter mit dem Tod (1918), and Frans Masereel's Danse Macabre (1946). Marcia Collins' book The Dance of Death in Book Illustration; Catalog to an Exhibition of the Collection in the Ellis Library of the University of Missouri-Columbia is available as a guide to this part of the collection.
The joining of words and pictorial images to convey moral and ethical truths in emblematic form was a popular allegorical mode of expression in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1522 Andreas Alciati wrote a book of epigrams called Emblemata. Appropriate images were added to Alciati's verses to accompany the text. Emblemata became a model for this genre of books, and the emblem book became a mode of literary and artistic expression.
The Rare Book Collection contains a number of editions of Alciati plus works by Paolo Giovio, Philip Ayres, Joachim Camerarius, Herman Hugo, Jan Luiken, Francis Quarles, Cesare Ripa, Otto Van Veen, and George Wither.
Engraving from Choix de metamorphoses
by Jean-Baptiste Huet,
Paris, Marcilly, 1801.
The Metamorphoses is the most substantial and influential work by the Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17). An epic poem which tells of miraculous changes, Metamorphoses begins with the transformation of the world from chaos to order, progresses through numerous Roman mythological themes, and finally concludes with the death of Julius Caesar.
Highlights of this collection of illustrated editions of Metamorphoses are Clement Marot's edition containing Bernard Salomon's woodcuts, Les Oevvres (1549); Gabriel Giolito's printing of Lodovico Dolce's translation, Le Transformationi (1557); and one of the finest German editions illustrated with 178 woodcuts by Virgil Solis, Tetrasticha in Ovidii Metamorphoses (1569). One illustrated manuscript edition is also in the collection.
Ladyslipper orchid, from
A Flora of North America
by William P. C. Barton.
Philadelphia, M. Carey & Sons, 1821-23.
From very early times plants have been used as healing agents. Compilations of medical information drawn from tradition and from the manuscript works of Pliny, Dioscorides, and others became known as herbals. The descriptions of the plants and illustrations by which the plants could be recognized were important elements of these works. By the sixteenth century the illustrations had evolved from crude drawings to detailed works modelled from life and reproduced by woodcuts and engravings.
The Rare Book Collection contains one of the most celebrated herbals ever printed, Leonhart Fuchs' De Historia Stirpium (1542). Also available are Hortus Sanitatis (1517); Pier Andrea Mattioli's Commentarij in VI. Libros Pedacij Dioscordis Anazarbei de Medica Materia (1583); Antoine Laurent de Jussieu's Genera Plantarum (1789), which with Linnaeus' work formed the basis of modern natural classification of plants; and numerous other beautifully illustrated botanical works.