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Provenance index of rare books collections in the Bodleian Library

From the Bodleian Library's entry in A directory of rare book and special collections in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland / edited by B.C. Bloomfield with the assistance of Karen Potts (Library Association, 1997).

Alphabetical guide to shelfmarks and named special collections of printed books:
A-- B-- C-- D-- E-- F-- G-- H-- I-- J--K-- L-- M--N-- O--P--Q R-- S-- T-- U-- V-- W-- X Y-- Z

History of the Bodleian collections

The Bodleian is the main research library of Oxford University and a resource of national and international scholarship. In Britain it is second in size only to the British Library, having a stock of 6 million volumes. It is named after Sir Thomas Bodley (1545-1613), scholar and diplomat, who re-endowed the library on the site of an earlier foundation. It is a library of deposit under the Copyright Act, a privilege which originated in the agreement made by Sir Thomas Bodley with the Company of Stationers in 1610 that the Company would grant the library a perfect copy of every book printed by their members on certain conditions. But the Company was not always willing or able to compel its members strictly to observe the agreement with Sir Thomas Bodley. Further, Sir Thomas Bodley and the early librarians were selective: they favoured books in learned languages and, for instance, few of the early editions of Jacobean dramatists and not much early English literature was accepted-the library had to wait for such collections as those of Robert Burton, Edmund Malone, Elias Ashmole and Anthony Wood to make it important in these fields.

The first statutory obligation upon the Company to deliver to the library a copy of each book printed by its members was imposed by the Press Licencing Act of 1662 for two years, and then renewed from time to time until the Act lapsed in 1695. It was the first Copyright Act, passed in 1710, that required the depositing of copies at certain libraries, including the Bodleian, of all works entered at Stationers’ Hall. The 1710 Act did little however, to alter the Company’s token co-operation, and the claiming of copies by the library was erratic, with no certain knowledge of what was due. It was not until after the Copyright Act of 1814 recognized the right of privileged libraries to every publication, whether entered at Stationers’ Hall or not, that the library began to reap the full benefit of the copyright privilege, and the number of books received by copyright deposit increased steadily from then onwards with a dramatic increase after 1882. (See J P Chalmers, ‘Bodleian deposit survivors of the first sixteen years of the Copyright Act of Queen Anne, April 10 1710 to March 25 1726’. Unpublished Oxford University B.Litt. thesis, 1974, Ms.B.Litt.c.276).

In purchasing arrears of English and of foreign literature, Sir Thomas Bodley selected many of the books purchased in his lifetime: he endeavoured to provide the means for the profitable study of every branch of knowledge then recognized but he favoured books in learned languages and he preferred folios to small books. In the late 17th and in the 18th cent the income from the original Bodleian endowment, which had been intended to include book purchases, became inadequate and began to be consumed by general running costs. It was only after 1780 that a substantial and growing income became available for purchases. (See I G Philip, ‘The background to Bodleian purchases of incunabula at the Pinelli and Crevenna sales, 1789-90’. Trans Cambridge Bib Soc, 7 (1979), p369-75). This led to the publication of an annual printed list of purchases: A catalogue of books purchased for the Bodleian Library. . .1780 (-1861). (With) Donations to the library...1796 (-1861). Purchasing increased during the first half of the 19th cent but began to decline after 1860, during a period of financial stringency lasting some 80 years.

Sir Thomas Bodley realized the importance of attracting benefactions, and the library has been rewarded with a stream of donations etc, the major parts of which now form separate named collections within the library. From 1796 to 1861 a printed list of donations appeared with the printed list of purchases (see above). This was followed by the annual list, Donations to the Bodleian Library.. .1862 (-1885). During the 20th century the Friends groups have been the source of many gifts to the library.

The Library opened on 8 November 1602 with a stock of upwards of 2,000 books. The first catalogue of 1605 contains upwards of 5,000 titles of which only c.170 are in English and only 3 are literary works. By 1620 the Library had over 16,000 books and manuscripts. The effect of Bodley’s arrangement with the Stationers’ Company was noticeable in the second catalogue of 1620, which recorded a scattering of English literary works, but Bodley’s restrictions on the acquisition of books in the vernacular continued to prevail until the accession of Robert Burton’s books in 1640.

In 1844 the Library published a list of books received under copyright from Stationers’ Hall, in all some 2,700 books. In the second half of the 19th century accessions were running at a figure of approximately 8,000 volumes per annum. By 1885 the Library’s printed books numbered 406,000, and accessions under the Copyright Act totalled over 31,000.

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General catalogues of printed books

T James, Catalogus Librorum Bibliothecae publicae quam.. Thomas Bodleius... in Academia Oxoniensi nuper instituit. Oxoniae, 1605. Includes both printed books and mss arranged as they were shelved according to the four faculties, with an author index. (See Philip p.11-15). Repr. in facsimile, Oxford, 1986.

-------, Catalogus universalis librorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana. Oxoniae, 1620. Adopts the alphabetical arrangement. (See Philip p.31-33).

J Rous, Appendix ad Catalogum librorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, qui prodiit...1620. Oxoniae, 1635.

T Hyde, Catalogus impressorum librorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae. Oxonii, 1674. (See H Carter, A history of the Oxford University Press, v 1 (1975), p.76-7; Philip p.50-52, Rogers p.137-144).

Catalogus impressorum librorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae. Oxonii, 1738.2 v. (See H Carter, loc cit, p294-6).

Catalogus librorum impressorum Bibliothecae Bodleianae. 3 v, 1843. Excludes the Gough and Douce collections, and the collections of dissertations and of Hebrew books, of which special cats were in print.

Catalogus... librorum quibus aucta est Bibliotheca...MD CCCXXXV-MD CCCXLVII. Oxonii, 1851.


G Wheeler, The earliest catalogues of the Bodleian Library. Oxford, 1928.

‘Bodleian catalogues of the 17th Century’, BQR (1915), p.228-32.

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Printed books, and microforms of printed material, are now listed in the general catalogue of printed books, available in three parts:

(i) The Pre-1920 Catalogue, available as computer print-out and also on CD-ROM (The Bodleian Library Pre-1920 Catalogue of Printed Books on Compact Disc, Oxford, 1993). Includes all printed works in European languages and scripts (manuscripts, maps, music, and works wholly in oriental scripts are not included) published before 1920 and catalogued up to 1989 to be found in the Bodleian Library and its dependent libraries, with the exception of certain small categories of material.

(ii) The Post-1920 Catalogue: holdings of works published from 1920 onwards and catalogued up to the end of 1986 were (until the advent in 1988 of Oxford University’s on-line computerised library system - OLIS) entered into guard books. These entries are being converted into machine-readable form, to be made available on OLIS.

(iii) All cataloguing, both of currently published and antiquarian material, has since 1988 (1990 for pre-1920 material) been carried out on OLIS.

Bodleian holdings of the relevant period are very largely (though not completely) recorded in A Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland and of English books printed abroad 1475-1640, 2nd edition, 3 vols. The Bibliogaphical Society, London, 1976-1991; D. G. Wing, Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, 3 vols. Modern Language Association of America, New York, 1982-1994; The eighteenth-century short-title catalogue, 1990, microfilm edition, The British Library, London, 1990, and available on-line. Also The nineteenth-century short-title catalogue (Series 1, 1801-1815, 6 vols; series 2, 1816-1870, 56 vols.), Avero Publications, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1984 - 1995.

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Special catalogues and guides


F J King, A check list of almanacs, chiefly before 1801, in the Bodleian Library Oxford, 1974. (Reproduced from computer print-out with ms additions.) Sets out in detail holdings of almanacs (ie calendars or calendars containing also prognostications), for the most part in series, of date prior to 1801. A conspectus of the shelfmarks of all copies in the collections of Ashmole, Douce, Rawlinson and Wood, the principal sources of the Library’s almanacs.

Almanacs 1695-1705 (shelfmarked 8o C52-62 Jur.) (MS, shelfmarked R.6.222).

Combined index of almanacs in Ashmole, Douce, Jur., Linc., Rawlinson and Wood collections (alphabetical with date and collection symbol): with an index of years (1569-1771). (Bodleian shelfmark R.6.225).

Incunabula (the Bodleian has a total of c. 6,500).

Link to Incunabula web page

L A Sheppard, Catalogue of the 15th century books in the Bodleian Library. Xeroxes of ms entries, written 1954-71. With Proctor concordance to Sheppard slips.

----- [with] J W Jolliffe, Index of authors, anonymous books, commentators, editors, translators, printers, publishers, anonymous presses and places of printing in L A Sheppard’s loc cit. [Xeroxes of MS entries. Bodleian shelfmark 25843 b.3,3* = R.Bibl.21].

The incunabula have been entered on the British Library’s Incunable Short-title Catalogue (ISTC) file.

A new catalogue of the incunabula is currently being prepared for completion in 2003. It will identify all texts and make them accessible through a comprehensive index of authors and anonymous works, and will deal with features specific to the volumes as individual objects, noting bindings, hand-painted initials, illuminations, additional manuscript texts, and provenance.


‘A catalogue of the incunabula in the Bodleian Library’, BLR XIV, 3 (October 1992) p.171-3.

A K Offenberg, ‘Hebrew incunables in the British Library and the Bodleian’; B. Wagner, ‘Bodleian incunables from Bavarian monasteries’; A. Coates, ‘The Bodleian’s incunabula in the late 18th and 19th centuries; their acquisition, cataloguing and housing’, BLR, XV, 2 (April 1995) p.79-118; K. Jensen, Bodleian Library, Oxford. Incunabula in the Bodleian Library. Kulturstiftung der Länder and Fritz Thyssen Stiftung in cooperation with the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1992.

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An indexed catalogue of broadside ballads, and digitized images of ballads from all Bodleian collections, is available at:


‘Ballads’, BLR XII, 2 (April 1986) p.89-91.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The Bodleian derives its early English newspapers and periodicals in the main from the collections formed by John Nichols and F W Hope. For the 17th cent it has newspapers preserved by Anthony Wood, Narcissus Luttrell, and Elias Ashmole. It is especially rich in early newspapers and corantos, Civil War periodicals, London newspapers from 1672-1737, and literary periodicals of the 18th cent.

R T Milford and D M Sutherland, A catalogue of English newspapers and periodicals in the Bodleian Library, 1622-1800. Oxford. Oxford Bib Soc, 1936. (With printed Bodleian Shelfmarks. Bodleian copy shelfmarked 2590 d.Ox.le.5 = B.l.1202 is annotated with additions.)

C. Nelson and M. Seccombe, British newspapers and periodicals, 1641-1700: a short-title catalogue of serials printed in England, Scotland, Ireland and British America, New York, 1987.

Bodleian holdings are also shown in the British Union Catalogue of Periodicals, a record of the periodicals of the world, from the 17th century to the present day, in British libraries. 5 v and Supplement. London, 1955-62.

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Oxfordshire bibliography and Oxford printing

E H Cordeaux and D H Merry, A bibliography of printed works relating to Oxfordshire, excluding the University and City of Oxford. Oxfordshire Hist Soc new ser v 11. Oxford, 1955.

  • Supplementary volume. Ibid. v 28, Oxford 1981.
  • A bibliography of printed works relating to the University of Oxford. Oxford, 1968.
  • A bibliography of printed works relating to the City of Oxford. Oxfordshire Hist Soc new ser v 25. Oxford 1976.
The above three bibliographies include Bodleian shelfmarks. F Madan, Oxford books: a bibliography of printed works relating to the University and City of Oxford or printed or published there. 3 vols. Oxford, 1895 - 1931.


W Salt Brassington, Historic bindings in the Bodleian Library, 1891.

S Gibson, Some notable Bodleian bindings, 1901-4.

-----, Early Oxford bindings, 1903.

[I G Philip], Gold tooled bookbindings. (Bodleian picture books, no 2). Oxford, 1951.

N R Ker, Fragments of medieval manuscripts used in pastedowns in Oxford bindings, with a survey of Oxford binding c1515-1620. Oxford, 1954.

Fine bindings 1500-1700 from Oxford libraries, catalogue of an exhibition. Oxford, 1968.

[G G Barber], Textile and embroidered bindings. (Bodleian picture books, special series, no 2). Oxford, 1971.

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The Bodleian Library’s printed rare book collections, listed below, bear shelfmarks (often abbreviated) which are of several types, namely: (a) Names of former owners or libraries whose books have been acquired and are still kept together as separate collections, eg Bliss, Broxbourne, Douce, Holkham, Selden; (b) Descriptions of categories of books grouped by subject matter, eg Art. [Artes], Bib. [Bible Collection], Med. [Medicina], Tr. Luth. [Tractatus Lutherani]; (c) Groups having a common origin: eg Don. [Donations], Diss. [Dissertations], Inc. [Incunabula], Kelmscott Press, Lib. Polon. [Libri Polonici], Tauchnitz; (d) Groups described by locations in which they are (or were formerly) kept: eg Arch. [Archivium], Auct. [Auctarium].

In describing the collections which follow, use has been made of the following references: BLR: Bodleian Library Record, 1938 to date; BQR: Bodleian Quarterly Record, Vols 1-8, 1914-38; Craster: Sir E Craster, History of the Bodleian Library, 1845-1945. Oxford, 1952; Macray: W D Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1890; Philip: Ian Philip, The Bodleian Library in the 17th and 18th centuries, The Lyell lectures, Oxford, 1980-81, Oxford, 1983; Rogers: David Rogers, The Bodleian Library and its treasures, 1320-1700, Nuffield, Henley-on-Thames, 1991. Use has also been made of G W Wheeler, ‘Bodleian pressmarks in relation to classification’, BQR 1 (1916)280-292; 311-22. See also The Bodleian Library account book, 1613-1646, ed. by Gwen Hampshire, Oxford Bibliographical

Society Publications, n.s.21, Oxford, 1983; The history of the University of Oxford vol. 5 (The eighteenth century), Oxford, 1986: ch. 26, pp. 725-755, I G Philip; ‘Libraries and the University Press’, vol. 8 (The twentieth century), Oxford, 1994: ch. 17, pp. 471 - 484, Giles Barber, ‘Libraries’.

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A. Department of Printed Books (Western)

Alphabetical guide to shelfmarks and named special collections of printed books:
A-- B-- C-- D-- E-- F-- G-- H-- I-- J--K-- L-- M--N-- O--P--Q R-- S-- T-- U-- V-- W-- X Y-- Z

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B. Music Section

From its opening in 1602 until towards the end of the 18th century the Bodleian possessed relatively little music. Although books about music were received under the terms of the agreement reached by Bodley with the Stationers’ Company in 1610 almost no printed music was received. For music from the 16th to the 18th century the University had another source, the Music School Collection which, although housed in the Schola Musicae in the present Old Library Quadrangle, was not part of the Bodleian. Based on the bequest in 1627 of manuscript and printed music and instruments by William Heather, who also endowed the Heather Professorship of Music, the Music School was an active centre of music making and its collection of music continued to be added to until the end of the 18th century. From the 1780’s however, the Bodleian’s own collection of music began to grow appreciably, when a regular flow started to be received under copyright legislation which has continued ever since, although it was not until the present century that anything approaching fairly complete receipt of current British musical publications was achieved. The Library nevertheless has remarkably comprehensive collections of British printed music from the 16th century onwards. This is due, in part, to donations of substantial collections of antiquarian material. Even primarily non-musical collections such as those of Wood, Douce and Malone, have often included extremely interesting musical items. The first purely musical collection to be received was the bequest of Osborne Wight in 1801 which included 18th century printed editions of Handel and the like. The Music School collection was handed over to the Bodleian in 1885 but apart from this and the ever-increasing flow of copyright material relatively few other additions were made to the music collection during the 19th century. In the 20th century, however, three major music collections have been acquired and these are described below.

The M. Deneke Mendelssohn collection, acquired mostly by donation directly or indirectly from descendants of the composer has led to the Bodleian becoming one of the leading centres for Mendelssohn research. In addition to manuscripts there are 376 printed volumes (some containing several items) of Mendelssohn scores and books relating to him, almost entirely 19th century.

Harding Collection (see above)

Tenbury Collection. The library of St. Michael’s College, Tenbury Wells, was largely that formed by the College’s founder, the Reverend Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley (1825-1889), Precentor of Hereford and Professor of Music at Oxford 1855-1889, almost certainly the finest collection of printed music and musical books in private hands. After the College was forced to close its doors in 1985, the immensely important collection of over 1,000 manuscripts, which included such treasures as Handel’s own conducting score of ‘Messiah’ and the ‘Batten Organ Book’ and which had mostly been on deposit in the Bodleian since 1978, was given to the Bodleian, and the Bodleian was able to purchase four and a half thousand printed items (that is, virtually everything which was not duplicated by the Bodleian’s own collection). The collection is wide-ranging, but is particularly rich in early musical treatises, French and Italian opera scores and English editions from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and contains many first editions of major 19th century works. Sacred music features strongly, including many bound volumes of Victorian anthems and service settings, frequently in presentation copies from their composers to Ouseley. The major musical writers of the 18th century such as Marpurg, Mattheson and Rameau are represented along with rare sets of parts of continental sacred music, and the collection abounds in many interesting 18th century editions of music by Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli and their contemporaries. Nineteenth-century books and pamphlets on church music, organs and related matters are abundant, as is Victorian church and organ music, and many of Ouseley’s copies of his own music and writings. In addition there are first editions of scores of standard continental repertoire, and bound editions of French and Italian opera.

  • M. Holmes, [Part of the library of St. Michael’s College, Tenbury Wells], BLR, XIV,1(October 1991)71-4.

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C. Department of Oriental Books

The Department of Oriental Books holds all the oriental manuscript collections (including those of the Indian sub-continent), together with early and modern printed works in oriental languages (other than those of the sub-continent).

Backhouse Collection Made by Sir Edmund Backhouse in Peking at the turn of the century, and donated to the Bodleian Library in stages between 1913 and 1922, the collection contains c850 items, mostly printed books, of which c120 are Ming editions. There are 20 mss, and 76 items of calligraphy and painting. The collection is closed.

  • A catalogue of the old Chinese books in the Bodleian Library, vol 1: The Backhouse Collection by David Helliwell. Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1983.
  • Hugh Trevor-Roper, A hidden life, the enigma of Sir Edmund Backhouse. London, 1976. (Two chapters of this biography deal with the donation of the collection to the library.)
Oppenheimer Collection formed by David Oppenheimer, born Worms 1664, became Chief Rabbi at Prague, died there 1736. His library of Hebrew printed books and mss passed to a son and afterwards to Isaak Berend Salomon at Hamburg. Purchased by the Bodleian Library 1829, it contains c4,350 v covering the entire range of Hebrew literature from the Bible up to early 18th cent. Particularly strong in Bible editions with commentaries, rabbinics, service-books. c60 Hebrew incunabula. Includes c70 per cent of all products of the first century of Yiddish printing, say from the 1530s to 1650. A set of the first edition of the Talmud printed by Daniel Bomberg in Venice, and a complete Talmud on vellum in 24 v (Berlin and Frankfurt a O, 1715-21).
  • Collectio Davidis, compiled by I Metz, provided with a Latin translation by E Emden. (Hamburg, 1826).
  • Referred to in all the major Jewish encyclopedias.
  • A. E. Cowley, A concise catalogue of the Hebrew printed books in the Bodleian Library. Oxford; 1929.
The shelfmark Opp.adds. was used for Hebrew books acquired between 1844 and 1897, when the abbreviation Heb. was substituted.

Sinica Collection Recently formed, to include all books in Chinese acquired from 17th-19th cent, as well as modern acquisitions of rare books, including miscellaneous acquisitions of 17th and 18th cent, and the collections of Edwin Evans, acquired in 1856, and Alexander Wylie, purchased 1882. There are c2,500 items, mostly printed books, including c100 Ming editions and a collection of c900 19th cent Protestant missionary publications. There are a few unique copies of late Ming commercial editions. The collection is added to either from discoveries of rare books in the modern Chinese collection, or from occasional purchases.

A listing of the Wylie books was issued in 1975, by the Bodleian as vol.2 of A catalogue of the old Chinese books in the Bodleian Library, by David Helliwell.

Wardrop Collection Formed by Sir Oliver Wardrop (1864-1948) and his sister Marjory (1869-1909). Following his sister’s death, Sir Oliver, who was already concerned with the creation at Oxford University of a fund for the encouragement of Georgian studies presented the entire collection to the Bodleian. In subsequent years the collection was augmented by further books and mss acquired by Sir Oliver or through the Wardrop Fund. The collection was kept separate from the library’s existing ‘Georgica’ collection, which also continued to grow. The collection consists of 1,454 items, of which 215 are periodicals and 73 are series. Included are 74 mss in the category of texts and collections of Georgian literature. It contains mss of the following nature: (i) the aforementioned texts and collections of Georgian books; (ii) papers relating to these; (iii) the correspondence and other papers of Sir Oliver and Marjory Wardrop either in Georgian or relating to Georgia. The earliest ms item is an 8th cent palimpsest. The 11th cent Menologion is the earliest complete ms. Rustaveli’s epic The man in the panther skin appears in the collection in the printed edition published by King Vahtang in 1712 and also in the form of two illuminated mss, both believed to be of the 17th cent.

  • David Barrett. Catalogue of the Wardrop collection and of other Georgian books and manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. (Oxford, 1973.)
  • The introduction to the above cat. Also, D M Lang: ‘Georgian studies in Oxford’ in Oxford Slavonic papers, 6, 1955.
  • N. Wardrop, ‘Oliver, Marjory and Georgia’, BLR, XIV,6(April 1994),501-523.

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With the publication of the Barrett Catalogue the collection was closed, and all further accessions, whatever their origins, were added to ‘Georgica’.

Khedive collection. 74 Arabic works printed by the Egyptian Government Press at Bulaq, in Cairo, came as a gift from Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, through his son Prince Hassan, while he was an undergraduate at Oxford in 1870.

Indian Institute Library.

A dependent library which became part of the Bodleian in 1927. Originally the library of the Indian Institute, a research institute set up by the Boden Professor of Sanskrit, Sir Monier Monier-Williams in 1880. The original core of the Indian Institute collections consisted of the donated personal libraries of Monier-Williams and of the Reverend Dr. Solomon Caesar Malan, Vicar of Broadwindsor, to which were added, for instance, the Lucknow Sparks library, a substantial collection of Hindi, Urdu and Persian lithographs and other printed books, all from Lucknow, and impressive sets of books from the Serampore Press and numerous 19th c. Sanskrit texts, lithographs and fine printed editions from Bombay, Calcutta, Poona, etc. The Sanskrit and other classical collections acquired by the turn of the century cover the whole range of Sanskrit literature as published at the time. The present library, containing some 80,000 volumes, covers not only India, but also Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Tibet, Burma and Thailand (for the latter three, it has only English-language publications, and books on Sri Lanka acquired before 1985 and earlier Sri Lankan periodicals and official publications are kept in Rhodes House Library). Subject coverage is history, social studies, religion and culture, and language and literature. There are comprehensive collections in Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, and smaller collections in the other South Asian languages, focusing primarily on language studies and ‘classical’ literature. There is a large collection of Government publications from the 19th c. to the present.

The Bodleian Japanese Library at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, contains the University’s research collection in the humanities and social sciences which relates to the history and culture of Japan, past and present, with the fields of history, religion and literature strongly represented. The collection includes all the University’s Japanese books, manuscripts and antiquarian books as well as modern publications, and a wide-ranging collection of western language materials. The collection of Japanese local histories is probably the foremost such collection in Europe.

The Oriental Institute Library (a dependent library of the Bodleian) administers the Eastern Art Library, the working collection of the Department of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum. The latter is designated the University’s research library in the fields of oriental art and archaeology. The books (approx. 15,000 volumes) are arranged firstly by area and then by subject according to a simple classification scheme devised for the collection.

D. Bodleian Law Library

The Law Library was opened in 1964 and in it was placed the main Bodleian collection of law books, the formation of which began c.1883. Many Bodleian law books of earlier date than this were incorporated into the Law Library, but three special collections remained outside the main sequence, as follows:

Charles Viner (1678-1756), jurist, founder of the Vinerian Professorship, compiler of Abridgment oƒ law and equity (23 v, 1742-53). His working library, mainly of legal works, bequeathed to the Radcliffe Library, incorporated into the Bodleian in 1913, and now housed in the Bodleian Law Library. The library, taken over from the Radcliffe Library, consisted of 542 printed volumes and 38 mss. The mss are now housed in the Bodleian. 61 printed volumes were subsequently withdrawn from the collection as having been incorrectly included. 97 v are duplicate copies of Viner’s Abridgment. The majority of the works are of 17th and first half of 18th cent, with some 16th cent works. Many volumes carry Viner’s signature and annotations in his hand.

Class 35 (Law) of the one- and two-figure classification scheme in use in the Bodleian from 1861-83. mainly to classify older books purchased in octavo and small quarto. Now housed in the Bodleian Law Library, with the original shelfmarks. Over 260 v, some containing several titles, dating from the 16th-19th cent.

Jur. Over 1,600 books originally shelfmarked Jur. (one part of the original Bodleian classification by faculty) are now shelved in the Bodleian Law Library, though no longer by the original shelfmark. Mainly books printed after 1800, though there are some of 16th-18th cent.

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E. Radcliffe Science Library

The scientific, medical and mathematics library of the University, and a dependent library of the Bodleian. Began its existence as the Radcliffe Library, housed in what is now the Radcliffe Camera (1749-1861). Up to 1810 the bookstock of the Radcliffe Library consisted mostly of miscellaneous bequests, donations and occasional purchases. From 1810 to 1861 purchases were made in medicine and natural history. In 1861 the scientific books from the Radcliffe Library were transferred to the new University Museum building, and in 1902 a new building was provided next to the Museum. In 1861 the Bodleian Curators were empowered to deposit certain scientific books and periodicals in the Radcliffe Library. In 1927 the Trustees of the Radcliffe Library handed over to the University their library building and its contents, which then became known as the Radcliffe Science Library, and also the freehold of the Radcliffe Camera. An extension was opened in 1934 which made possible the transfer to it of all the Bodleian scientific books (some 170,000 in number). (The Trustees had in 1893 handed over to the Bodleian those books on non-scientific subjects which the Bodleian cared to take, and sold non-scientific works not wanted by the Bodleian.)

The Rare Book Collection in the Radcliffe Science Library comprises the Committee Room and the Rare Book Room Collections, both of Radcliffe Library origin. The part of the Committee Room Collection, shelfmarked CR.A-CR.M, consists of over 250 works on botany and natural history, including platebooks, English and foreign, mostly dating from the 18th and 19th cent, with some of the 17th and 20th cent. The part of the Committee Room Collection shelfmarked CR.N-CR.S consists of over 800 works printed pre-1850, English and foreign, on the natural sciences and medicine, taken out of the stack in the late 197Os (though the stack still contains many pre-1850 volumes). Some of these are of Bodleian (as opposed to Radcliffe Library) origin.

The Rare Book Room Collection, shelfmarked RR, consists of over 620 titles of the 15-20th cent, English and foreign, mainly on the natural sciences and medicine. Some of these were bequeathed to the Radcliffe Library by James Gibbs (1682-1754) and Richard Frewin (1681?-1761).

Sir Henry Wentworth Acland (1815-1900), physician, Fellow of All Souls (1840), Radcliffe Librarian (1851), Regius Professor of Medicine (1858), presented to the Radcliffe Library 40 v containing c64O pamphlets, published between c1830 and 1900, mainly in the English language, on medical subjects. Arranged by subject. Each volume includes a list of contents.

No handlist. F. Rhodes House Library

This is a dependent library of the Bodleian (opened in 1929) specializing in the history and current affairs-political, economic and social-of the British Commonwealth and former British colonial territories (except the Indian sub-continent and Burma), of the United States of America, and of the sub-Saharan Africa, including the offshore islands. Other parts of the Bodleian cover relevant materials published before 1760 as well as literary, scientific, linguistic and philological works for these Geographical areas. The total stock exceeds 300,000 v. Purchases are made to fill gaps in the older collections, and to acquire new books and serials, mainly published overseas. Contains long runs of government documents, pamphlets and newspapers. One third of the library deals with the U.S., and Africa and Canada are well catered for. The Library is strong in manuscript material relating to the history of British colonial administration.

Though the general stock contains a large number of books printed in Commonwealth countries, there is one particular collection of note on the history of Malta.

Sir Hannibal Publius Scicluna (1880-1981), holder of many offices in the civil and academic administration of Malta (not least the librarianship of the Royal Malta Library), presented in 1937 to the Rhodes Trustees for housing in Rhodes House Library, his collection of Melitensia. It was described then as containing ‘some 1,200 works on the history of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and on the history of these islands’, including the most important works on the local archaeology, natural history, folklore, language, genealogy and travel, and the best such collection after that belonging to the Royal Malta Library. Sir Hannibal continued to donate books to the end of his life, and Lady Scicluna, who died in 1977, left the library a sum of money to develop the collection by appropriate purchases. The collection now numbers over 2,200 v, dating from the 16th-20th cent.

  • Catalogued by author on cards.
  • Most books have entries in the catalogue of Rhodes House Library
  • ‘Sir Hannibal Scicluna’, BLR 11(1982), p2-3.
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