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Photograph of three works in the Rare Books Collection

    Rare Books Collection


Links to Lists, Databases, Etc.

Indiana State University has long had a collection of rare books. Holdings were greatly enhanced in 1967 when the University purchased the entire stock of the late New York antiquarian bookseller Walter Ganz. Of the 18,500 volumes in this purchase, 4,400 volumes were stored. When construction of Cunningham Memorial Library was completed in 1973, these 4,400 volumes, along with hundreds of volumes already located in the Rare Books Room in the old library, were moved to the newly established Special Collections Department to become part of the Rare Books Collection. Gifts and purchases in the last 20 years have enlarged the collection so that today it stands at more than 6,000 volumes.

Ganz acquired many choice works in the history of Western thought and culture. Nearly 1,300 volumes from the original Ganz purchase concentrate on travel and discovery. Included in these travel and discovery volumes are several works which provide intriguing Western insights into Africa and Asia before 1900. Many of these volumes contain fine engravings or hand-colored plates of cities, landscapes, costumes, and flora.

Works in the Rare Books Collection are principally in English, Latin, French, German, and Italian. Over 550 of the titles were printed between 1473 and 1699. The collection thus provides excellent examples of early binding in vellum, pigskin, leather, and other materials, as well as examples of fine printing from the Aldine, Plantin, Baskerville, Bodoni, and other European presses. Works of eighteenth-century British writers comprise another strong grouping.

The collection also contains expensive and often exquisite facsimile or scholarly editions of the works of such artists and writers as Leonardo da Vinci and Shakespeare. An acquisition in this category is a facsimile reproduction of the Domesday book, the Anglo-Saxon record of personal property in eleventh-century England. The deparrtment also posseses several replicas of the Gutenberg Bible, one of which is kept on permanent display.

Various lists of titles in the collection, such as "The Renaissance," "Costume," and "Shakespeare," have been prepared to assist interested persons in locating materials. Only a low percentage of the books in the collection have been fully cataloged, but all books have at least a main entry in the Department's card catalog. By-date files of European imprints through 1800 and of American imprints through 1820 are available for consultation.

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