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Brasenose College Library: Special collections

UB/S II 97 The Founder's Missal, 1520

UB/S II 97 The Founder's Missal, 1520

UB/S II 97 The Founder's Missal, 1520

MS 1 Founder's Bible, mid-13th century

MS 1 Founder's Bible, mid-13th century

UB/S III 36 De historia stirpium, 1542

UB/S III 36 De historia stirpium, 1542

Sigma A.5.84 Micrographia, 1665

Sigma A.5.84 Micrographia, 1665

MS 7 Cicero De Officiis, last quarter of 15th century

Free library show and tell, June 2022

Special collections

Brasenose College has an utterly wonderful collection of rare books and manuscripts. We absolutely encourage students and staff to come talk to us about our special collections, even if they have no prior knowledge of rare materials and are daunted by the prospect of requesting to view such items. We hope to run workshops and mini viewings with students each year to introduce them to the wonderful world of rare books!

If you are a student or member of staff intrigued about using our special collections, or are hoping to conduct research, please do pop into the library office or email us. We are very accommodating and would love to showcase our collections to more people. 

Rare Books Information Video

The different collections

The College Library has two older collections, namely the pre-1640 collection consisting of approximately 2560 items, including manuscripts and incunabulum, and the collection known as the Stamford Collection (owing to its previous location in Stamford House basement) which contains an eclectic range of books mostly dating between 1640 and the late 1700's.

Both collections cover a diverse range of subjects and periods, from medieval manuscripts and religious material, to antiquarian learning, law and politics, biology, travel, literature, and even carpentry and construction! Please visit our website here if you would like a more detailed understanding of our special collections, alternatively, send any questions to our email address. Our catalogued material can be found and searched on SOLO.

Please note that the process of cataloguing our special collections is ongoing, and until completed the full richness and exact size of our collection (thought to be approximately 10,000 items) cannot be determined.

Brasenose authors

The College has a substantial collection of books written by, and about, members of BNC past and present. The books range from modest pamphlets and anecdotal tales of yesteryear to major works such as Foxe's Actes and Monuments, commonly known as the Book of Martyrs.

Not all works by BNC authors find their way into this collection as many of those more recently donated and deemed to be relevant to the studies of current students are added to the main collection. The Brasenose Authors collection is divided between two locations owing to shortage of space and suitable storage conditions. Many items are already catalogued online (SOLO) but cataloguing of the remainder is work in progress.


Please email the library mailbox for viewing requests and general enquiries pertaining to our special collections

Alternatively, do contact Joanna or Sophie regarding engagement events and teaching using our rare books

Assistant Librarian

Rare Books Cataloguer

01865 277826/7

New to rare books and manuscripts?

We know it can be daunting requesting rare books or manuscripts for the first time, so we've created a brief leaflet about what to expect if you are new to this. Alternatively please view the Rare Books Information video!