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The collection was formed from the General Reference Library, which in turn contained the original collection of the Australian Subscription Library, the predecessor to the State Library of New South Wales.
Ferdinandi Bauer Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae...
Digital order number: a2734011
There are approximately 30,000 books in the collection dating from the early thirteenth century up to the modern day.
The collection includes illuminated manuscripts, incunabula, artist’s books, limited edition, one of a kind books and books from private printing presses.
The Library also has significant collections, known as Special Collections, in the Rare Books collection. These collections cover subjects like art, chess, travel and magic.
The Library has mostly acquired these collections through bequest and donation but the Library also purchased collections such as the Penguin Books collection. The Library continues to add material to some of the collections such as the Donald MacPherson Collection of Art and Literature.
While individual items within these collections may not be rare or valuable, the collections themselves are unique and irreplaceable.
There are special catalogues for Special Collections. Ask at the Special Collections desk to see if a Special Collection has a catalogue.
We are continuing to expand the Rare Books collection through new acquisitions.
We consider each acquisition based on its relevance to the Library's collections, uniqueness, importance to the history of printing and binding, and its association interest.
We also move material from other Library collections to this collection if the fragility, historical importance or monetary value has changed.
The Library’s Rare Books collection includes books printed in Australia before 1850 and books printed overseas before 1800, but these aren’t the only items in the collection.
You will also find books that have been published much later and:
Digital order number: a2806002
Fore-edge painting is an artform using a book.
The front edge of the pages are painted, usually using watercolour, while the book is held so the page edges are offset.
Over the top of the painting, the edge of the pages are then gilt.
When the book is closed, it looks like a normal gilt edged book, but when held the right way, the hidden picture is revealed.
Grangerised material is a printed work that has had extra content added later, such as writing, original works of art, photographs or maps.