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Cardiff Rare Books collection (15th-20th C.)


The collection was assembled by Cardiff Public Library from the late 19th century from donations, purchases and bequests, when it had aspirations to become the home of a National Library of Wales. In 2010 it was acquired by Cardiff University, with the support of the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, who recognised its value as a collection of national significance and the need to preserve it and promote its use. The collection reflects all of the major stages in book production from the earliest printed works to modern fine bindings. 

Among its strengths are 180 incunabula; early modern English and Continental works from the Renaissance and Reformation; around 500 Bibles; a world-class collection of Restoration drama, including a major set of late 17th-century editions of Shakespeare which is extremely rare; a notable atlases collection; significant holdings on natural history, topography and travel; and a collection of international significance of books from British private presses operating in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as limited editions and fine bindings. A rich strand of illustrated material runs through the entire collection.

Date range: 15th-20th centuries.

Significance: Of international significance.

Strengths: Restoration drama, British private presses, incunabula.

Size: c. 14,000 items.

Languages: English, Latin, Italian, French, German, etc.

Keywords: Literature, history, theology, English printing, continental printing, incunabula

Notes: There is a good amount of detail of provenance information running throughout the collection, (including owners such as John Dee and Isaac Newton), plus much marginalia of historical significance. More information is available on the SCOLAR website.