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Continental collection: rare books (17th-18th C.)


A heterogeneous collection, representative of publishing across most of continental Europe from the 16th century to the 18th century. The works included in the collection range across most of the major printing centres in Europe (including, among others, Venice, Paris, Lyon, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt), but lesser known works published in minor centres are also held.

The collection includes a good selection of most of the major classical authors (from Aesop to Virgil), and works on theology and religion by authors including Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Erasmus, and Girolamo Savonarola. A particular strength of the collection is represented by medieval and renaissance Italian literature and poetry: several editions of authors such as Ariosto, Petrarca and Tasso are held. Particularly noteworthy is a set of early printed works of Giovanni Boccaccio (c. 40 items, mainly from the 16th century). Several early editions of French and Spanish literature writers (Calderón, Cervantes, La Fontaine, etc.) are also held.

Other works on a wide range of subjects are to be found, including, for example, a valuable section of emblem books, with several editions of Andrea Alciati’s Emblemata. A completely autonomous section is represented by a large series of 17th century Dutch tracts about the English Civil War (c. 100 items), a number of them bearing a ‘British Museum duplicate’ stamp. Volumes from the library of Rice Rees (Lampeter) are also included.

Date range: 16th to 19th centuries.

Significance: Of significance in the United Kingdom.

Strengths: Boccaccio, 17th century Dutch tracts.

Size: c. 1,500 items.

Languages: Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Dutch, etc.

Keywords: Literature, Renaissance literature, history, emblem books, Dutch tracts, English Civil War, Italy, France, Spain, Europe