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Cardiff Rare Books

In a bid to become home to a national library for Wales, from the late 19th century onward Cardiff City Council built up a remarkable collection of books at its Central Library.

The Cardiff Rare Books represent the core of the English and Continental rare books in that collection. Recognising its significance as a national collection, it was acquired by Cardiff University from Cardiff City Council in 2010, with the support of the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

Among its strengths are 15th century incunabula, early modern English and Continental works from the Renaissance and Reformation, Bibles, a world-class collection of Restoration drama, 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.



The earliest examples of European publishing between 1470-1500, evidencing key subjects of importance at the dawn of printing.


A notable collection of Welsh, English and Continental early printed Bibles.


Chronicling the history of discoveries in the New World and Asia from the 16th-19th centuries, as well as the art and technology of map and atlas production.

Private presses

Wide ranging examples from British, European, and American private presses operating in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Drama collection

Rare Shakespearian material, and an exceptionally good range of editions of the key Restoration Drama writers.

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Special Collections and Archives