Internationally renowned collections of rare books and manuscripts

A library was established at 澳门六合彩资料大全鈥檚 foundation in 1379.

 

 

Rare Books

Today 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library holds c. 30,000 pre-1850 volumes, including 385 incunabula (fifteenth-century European imprints) and c. 5,000 ESTC books (largely British Isles imprints up to 1800).  The Library鈥檚 printed books purchased or given since the early days of printing have survived in large numbers, particularly in law, theology, classics, early medicine, and science.

Explore our Rare Books Gallery to view some of the visual highlights of our rare book collections, and watch our video series 鈥颁耻谤补迟辞谤蝉鈥&苍产蝉辫;颁丑辞颈肠别鈥.  An account of 澳门六合彩资料大全鈥檚 history since the College鈥檚 foundation in 1379 is also available.

Notable among the Library鈥檚 extensive early printed book collections are:

  • 25 printed books bequeathed by Cardinal Pole (1500鈥1558), the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, which had belonged to the Belgian humanist, Christopher Longolius (1488鈥1522);
  • 30 volumes bequeathed by Thomas Martin (1520/1鈥1592/3), including French translations of Thucydides, Livy, and Aristotle;
  • Medical and scientific books, among others, bequeathed by Walter Bailey (c. 1529鈥1592), Regius Professor of Medicine;
  • c. 400 medical books given in 1617 by Thomas Hopper (d. 1624);
  • c. 500 volumes, mainly contemporary theology, given in 1617 by Arthur Lake (1569鈥1626), Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Warden of 澳门六合彩资料大全, 1613鈥1616;
  • A general scholarly library of c. 170 items bequeathed by Robert Pinke (1573鈥1647), Warden of 澳门六合彩资料大全, 1617鈥1647;
  • A general collection of c. 600 volumes bequeathed in 1675 by Michael Woodward (1602鈥1675), Warden of 澳门六合彩资料大全, 1658鈥1675;
  • c. fifty books on numismatics, mostly bequeathed by Philip Barton (1694 or 1695鈥1765), Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, 1733鈥1765;
  • c. 140 seventeenth-century imprints of the scientist, Robert Boyle (1627鈥1691), some given in 1776 by Martin Wall (1747鈥1824), Litchfield Professor of Clinical Medicine;
  • The bequest of Edward Charles Wickham (1834鈥1910), Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, strong in classical literature;
  • The Keynes Collection, a donation of books largely relating to biblical scholar and grammarian Robert Lowth, Bishop of London (1710鈥1787), given in 2020 by conservationist and author Randal Keynes (1948鈥2023).


Early Printed Books Catalogues and Finding Aids

All of our early imprints have been catalogued and can be searched via our catalogue, .  Catalogue entries for our antiquarian material have copy-specific notes (i.e. information about provenance, binding, imperfections, and other details), and these are continually updated as more information comes to light.

Relevant early printed holdings of 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library within the scope of the  (ESTC) can also be found via this union catalogue (items published between 1473 and 1800, mostly in English and mainly published within the British Isles and North America).

澳门六合彩资料大全 Library鈥檚 exceptionally fine collection of incunabula is included within the   (ISTC).  Almost all 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library鈥檚 incunables are also helpfully listed in: Dennis E. Rhodes, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982).  Many of the Library鈥檚 incunables are included within the , which provides greater detail about copies than the ISTC but is currently less comprehensive in its coverage.  Work is also in progress to create entries for the Library鈥檚 incunables in the (MEI) database, a project which enables tracking of the movement of books across Europe and through the centuries.

 

Manuscripts

The Library is fortunate to hold as many as c. 380 medieval manuscripts.  Indeed, 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library, of all Oxford鈥檚 medieval colleges, has the largest collection of manuscript books remaining in situ鈥攎ore manuscripts survive from the medieval library of 澳门六合彩资料大全 than from that of any other Oxford or Cambridge college.  The College鈥檚 founder, William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester gave nearly 250 manuscript books, covering theology, philosophy, canon law, and civil law, of which about thirty survive.  Most of the Library鈥檚 manuscripts are in Latin or Greek but the wide range of languages covered by our manuscript holdings also includes: Arabic, Armenian, Burmese, Dutch, English, French, Hebrew, and Syriac.  Explore our Manuscripts Gallery to view some of our remarkable manuscript treasures, and watch our video series 鈥颁耻谤补迟辞谤蝉鈥&苍产蝉辫;颁丑辞颈肠别鈥.

New College Library鈥檚 manuscript holdings include:

  • Twelfth- and thirteen-century, illuminated Biblical and prophetic texts in Greek;
  • The celebrated, early thirteenth-century de Brailes Psalter, known as the 鈥湴拿帕喜首柿洗笕 Psalter鈥濃攖he most elaborate surviving example of the work of manuscript artist, William de Brailes (fl. 1230鈥60), as well as another thirteenth-century illuminated Psalter, written for St Albans Abbey;
  • An early fourteenth-century, illuminated Anglo-Norman prose translation of the Apocalypse of St John, of sumptuous artistry鈥攖he 鈥湴拿帕喜首柿洗笕 Apocalypse鈥, also known as the 鈥淏ohun Apocalypse鈥;
  • A fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript of Confessio Amantis, the great Middle English poem by John Gower (c. 1330鈥1408), and another fifteenth-century illuminated manuscript of perhaps the greatest Middle English literary text, The Canterbury Tales by Gower鈥檚 friend, Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343鈥1400), containing textually significant scribal insertions;
  • Exquisitely illuminated, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Dutch, Flemish, and French Books of Hours;
  • A sixteenth-century illustrated manuscript of the Qu鈥檙an;
  • An annal for 1515 by the Poet Laureate, Bernard Andr茅 (1450鈥1522), presented as a New Year鈥檚 gift to King Henry VIII;
  • An incomplete Latin translation by King Henry VIII鈥檚 librarian, Wouter Deleen (c. 1500鈥1563) of Hermann von Wied鈥檚 Einf盲ltiges Bedenken (1543), bound together with  in a volume intended for the King鈥檚 library and bearing the King鈥檚 coat of arms;
  • Tudor wardrobe warrants, issued principally by King Edward VI and Queen Mary I between 1550 and 1558, including extraordinary rarities: two signed by Lady Jane Grey, as Queen Jane;
  • The Sir Isaac Newton (1643鈥1727) papers, four volumes of largely theological and historical manuscripts, which came to the Library in 1872.

 

Manuscripts Catalogues, Finding Aids, and Glossary

It should be noted that manuscripts cannot be listed on SOLO.  Most of 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library鈥檚 medieval manuscripts, however, are listed in: H. O. Coxe,  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1852).  This catalogue is out-dated and incomplete, but an online version of Coxe鈥檚 does provide a helpful, if brief and partial, searchable guide to most of the Library鈥檚 manuscript holdings.

Illuminated manuscripts held in 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library are also described briefly, with some information about illuminators, scribes, and provenance, in: J. J. G. Alexander and El藕bieta Temple, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985). 

  • MS 44 is a Greek prophet book likely produced in Constantinople (or Cyprus), possibly around 1220鈥1240, and its illumination is given extensive treatment in: John Lowden, Illuminated Prophet Books: A Study of Byzantine Manuscripts of the Major and Minor Prophets (London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988), pp. 26鈥32.  This luxurious manuscript came to 澳门六合彩资料大全 from the library of Cardinal Reginald Pole, the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.  It is famous for its portraits of the Prophets, with a depiction of each one beside the relevant portion of text.
  • MS 322, 鈥淭he 澳门六合彩资料大全 Psalter鈥, c. 1240鈥1250 is described at length in: Nigel Morgan, Early Gothic Manuscripts: I, 1190鈥1250 (London: Harvey Miller, 1982), pp. 121鈥123.  This beautifully decorated manuscript is renowned as the largest and most elaborate extant work from the de Brailles workshop.
  • MS 358 is an illuminated Psalter written c. 1260鈥1280 for the Benedictine Abbey of St Albans and given to the Library post-Coxe by Anne Wetherell, widow of 澳门六合彩资料大全 Fellow, Richard Wetherell.  It is described in both: N.R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries: III. Lampeter-Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), pp. 667鈥668 and in: Nigel Morgan, Early Gothic Manuscripts: II, 1250鈥1285 (London: Harvey Miller, 1988), pp. 177鈥178.  It is especially notable for its elaborate ornamental Beatus page.
  • MS 65, 鈥淭he 澳门六合彩资料大全 Apocalypse鈥, 1300鈥1310 is described in: Lucy Freeman Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts 12851385: II Catalogue (London: Harvey Miller, 1986), p. 18, which most probably mis-dates this manuscript to around a couple of decades before it was actually produced based on a likely mis-attribution of ownership to a 鈥楯oan de Bohun鈥 who is a little earlier than the 鈥楯oan de Bohun鈥, maternal grandmother to King Henry V, who was in fact most likely its owner.  It is a manuscript of astonishing beauty, containing sixty-six illuminations of superb artistry and freshness with frequent use of gold leaf.
  • MS 266, John Gower鈥檚 Confessio Amantis, c. 1400鈥1425 is described at length in: Derek Pearsall and Linne Mooney, A Descriptive Catalogue of the English Manuscripts of John Gower鈥檚 Confessio Amantis (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2021), pp. 238鈥244.  Gower鈥檚 great Middle English poem, the Confessio Amantis, survives worldwide in 49 manuscripts, only two of which鈥攐ne belonging to 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library and another to the Morgan Library and Museum, New York鈥攃ontain (or once contained) full cycles of illustrations.
    • 澳门六合彩资料大全 Library also holds a second, slightly later and somewhat less celebrated manuscript of Gower鈥檚 Confessio Amantis, our MS 326; this one dates from c. 1450鈥1475, and is also described at length in Pearsall and Mooney (2021), pp. 245鈥250.
  • MS 288, 鈥淭he Chaundler Manuscript鈥, 1462鈥1464 is described at length in: Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390鈥1490: II Catalogue and Indexes (London: Harvey Miller, 1996), pp. 310鈥313.  It is celebrated in particular for its stunning four full-page, coloured and tinted drawings of 澳门六合彩资料大全, Winchester College, and Wells.

A comprehensive new catalogue of our manuscripts is currently being compiled, and sample entries are available to be viewed.

An excellent is available from the British Library.

 

Some Acquisitions Highlights鈥攁nnually from 2019 onwards

Access

All enquiries about accessing the Library鈥檚 early printed books (pre-1850) and its manuscripts should be made to the Librarian:

Dr Christopher Skelton-Foord
Librarian
澳门六合彩资料大全
University of Oxford
Holywell Street
Oxford  OX1 3BN
UK

As none of this material is stored in the main library, unfortunately 鈥渟ame-day鈥 service is not possible.  Access to these volumes will be by appointment only; provision is limited, so please contact him as far in advance as possible.

 

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