Skip to Main Content

Taylor Institution Library: Special Collections: Rare books & periodicals

Oxford images

Monographs and periodicals


The Taylorian's holdings of approximately 650,000 volumes includes around 100 incunabula, mainly in the vernacular, and circa 1300 C16th books, 2600 C17th books and 8500 C18th books.

These rare materials are held on a restricted access basis, either within the Taylor Institution building or at the Bodleian Libraries' offsite facility.

Onsite items are fetched upon request. Please ask at the Research Collection's Enquiry Desk for details. Please also note that since some items are held in teaching rooms there may be delivery delays while staff wait for teaching sessions to end.

Rare materials held offsite ("Closed Stack") may be requested by readers themselves by placing a Hold request on SOLO.

French Special Collections

The collections are strong in works of French literature, history and culture, notably of the 17th and 18th cent, and there are also a good number of earlier printed books. Noteworthy are:
   1,000+ volumes formerly owned by Gustave Rudler (1872-1957), Professor of French Literature, including rare C18th editions, Benjamin Constant materials and autographed works by 20th cent authors.
   The collection of Voltaire and Voltairiana given by Dr Theodore Besterman (d1976), who defrayed much of the cost of the establishment of the Voltaire Room to act as a centre for the study of Voltaire and of the Enlightenment in general.
   The livre d'artiste collection was presented to the Taylorian in 1986. (On deposit with the Sackler Library.)
   In 1992 the library received c1,000 v, mostly C18th French novels, the bequest of Professor V Mylne.
   In 2013 the holdings of the library were further enriched by books from the private library of Richard Sayce – a collection of 430 works from the 16th-18th cent mostly in French but comprising some works in other languages and notable for a number of early editions of Montaigne.

A small manuscript collection includes items by such writers as Flaubert, Gide, Sartre, Giono, as well as autographs and letters.

German Special Collections

   Fiedler Collection: Donated by H G Fiedler (1862-1945), Professor of German 1907-37, and his daughter, this collection contains texts from the 16th to the 20th cent, one of the earliest being Aliquot nomina propria Germanorum ad priscam etymologiam restituta (Wittenberg 1544), attributed to Martin Luther. A further 28 items date from before 1700. The Fiedler Collection is particularly rich in works of the 18th and early 19th cent (757 titles in 1,095 volumes published before 1851). See the Catalogue of the Fiedler collection: manuscript material and books up to and including 1850, 1962 for full details.
: The library holds 15 incunabula printed in Germany, of which 5 are in German, including Johann Tauler, Sermonen und historia (Leipzig: Conrad Kachelofen 1498, coming from the dispersed holdings of St. Peter’s Monastery in Erfurt) and Ortolff von Bayrlandt, Arzneibuch (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger 1477). It also has a significant collection of 436 tracts and Flugschriften mainly by Luther with a few by Melanchthon, Hutten, Zwingli, Erasmus and others.

Italian Special Collections (Connect here for more detailed information)

   Futurist Collection: Futurist-era publications.
   Finch Collection: Robert Finch (1783-1830), a resident of Italy, bequeathed his large general library to the University (see A catalogue of the books in the Finch collecion, Oxford, 1874). In 1921 the collection was divided among the Bodleian, the Taylor Institution and the Ashmolean Museum. C16th-C18th works held by the Taylorian were originally owned by Finch.
  Guarini Collection: Multiple editions of the 16th-century pastoral tragi-comedy by Battista Guarini, Il pastor fido. Records for Guarini editions held by the Taylor Institution are in the online catalogue. (Connect here for more detailed information)
   Manuscript Collection: Includes items by Marinetti, Metastasio, and Ungaretti.
   Moore Collection: Circa 900 volumes by and about Dante. The collection was formed by Edward Moore (1835-1916), principal of St. Edmund Hall, Taylorian Lecturer in Dante (1895-1908), and a founder of the Dante Society (1876).
   Paget Toynbee Collection: The Dante scholar Paget Jackson Toynbee (1855–1932) gave a collection in 1909.

Modern Greek Special Collections

   Dawkins Collection:
The library of the Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek, R.M. Dawkins (1871-1955), formerly on deposit with the Taylorian from Exeter College and now held with Special Collections at the Weston Library, includes important pre-1800 and early 20th-century items on modern Greece and Albania. This is a unique collection for the study of Modern Greek dialects.

Russian Special Collections

   Morfill Collection: The library of the philologist and literary historian W.R. Morfill (1834-1909), the first Oxford Professor of Russian, formerly on deposit from The Queen's College at the Taylorian, is now held with Special Collections at the Weston Library.

Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Special Collections

  Martin Collection: In 1895 the library was augmented by more than 1,000 vols mainly of early Spanish and Portuguese works bequeathed by Miss Williamina Mary Martin (1819-1895), including early editions of Cervantes, Calderón and Lope de Vega as well as works on historical and religious topics.
Butler Clarke Collection: Henry Butler Clarke (1863-1904) was Taylorian Teacher in Spanish from 1890 to 1894, and Fellow of St. John's College. His library, consisting of Latin, Arabic and Spanish books on Spanish civilisation before the re-discovery of America, is held by the Taylorian, on deposit from St. John's College (see F. de Arteaga y Pereira, A catalogue of the portion of the libraary of H. Butler Clarke, now in the library of St. John's College, 1906).
   Pring-Mill Collection: Collections left as a bequest to the Taylorian by Dr. R.D.F. Pring-Mill, (1924-2005). Approximately 1500 volumes on three main areas of interest: Pablo Neruda (including the manuscript of his Canto General), Ernesto Cardenal and Nicaraguan poetry, and Spanish American committed or protest poetry. There are a number of books and political pamphlets relating to the Nicaraguan revolution and general Latin American history and politics. The bequest also includes a range of background works and literary criticism covering Dr. Pring-Mill's other areas of interest, from Ramon Llull through to Spanish Golden Age drama and poetry. As well as monographs, the collection comprises some audio-visual and ephemeral material.