Rare Book Collection
ecause St. Jerome is the patron saint of archivists and librarians, we begin this page about Clark University's Rare Book Collection with an historiated initial letter of St. Jerome from a book in our collection. The initial letters of the other paragraghs on this page are also from the collection. The illumination of St. Jerome is taken from the book In Libros Vitas Patrum Sancto, which is credited to him. He was the first person to translate the Hebrew Bible to Latin, so it is appropriate that the illumination pictures him scribbling away in a book. St. Jerome’s symbol—the lion—is shown at his feet.
lark University's Rare Book Collection is housed in the Wilson Rare Book Room within the Archives and Special Collections area of the Robert H. Goddard Library at Clark University. The items in this collection do not circulate, but may be examined upon request. Most of the rare books are from the Clark Memorial Book Collection, which was donated by Jonas Clark, the founder of Clark University. The collection contains a dozen codices, a couple of which are Books of Hours. There are more than forty incunabula, including two editions of the Nuremberg Chronicle, books printed by Jenson, and works by Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Livy, Pliny, and Plutarch. Furthermore, there is an incunabula about St. Augustine that is the only copy known to exist in the U.S. The Clark Collection also houses several hundred books printed from the 16th through the 18th centuries, including a first edition of Diderot's famous "Encyclopedie" and books printed by Aldus. The collection also has over three dozen Bibles in many old and foreign languages.
uch of the Clark Collection is made up of his 2500 beautifully bound "Victorian parlor books." This part of the collection contains a great deal of nineteenth century English literature, demonstrates Victorian taste for books, and is a remarkable record of what a gentleman's library was like at the end of the nineteenth century. The parlor books are decorated in many different ways. Most are bound in some type of leather, including pigskin, morocco, crushed morocco, spanish calf, and tree calf. The collection is fortunate to have fifteen books with fore-edge paintings.
he Rare Book Collection also has some other nice volumes. For example, John James Audubon's seven volumes of "The Birds of America", 1840-1844. It is the American octavo edition, which was the first edition to contain all 500 plates and text. It is bound in lovely maroon morocco with gold and blind rules, gilt lettering and tooled spines with raised bands. Furthermore, the collection possesses "The Quadrupeds of North America", 1849-1854, by Audubon and John Bachman, which is a highly prized three-volume companion set. Our rare and complete set of "The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London" is the oldest and most famous scientific serial published in English and the volumes from 1665 through 1814 are on display in the Wilson Rare Book Room.
Many collections have some of their rare books scanned and posted on the Internet. From these, one can learn a great deal about the history of the book.
Below is an illumination from the Arabico-Indian manuscript The Guide to Good Works.
ET SIC EST FINIS.