Tag Archives: rare books

Original Leaves from Famous Books – Nine Centuries 1122 A.D. – 1923 A.D.

This collection of manuscript and printed leaves from famous books was complied by Otto F. Ege, a professor of art history and private collector of manuscripts.

View the collection online.




Exhibitions: Notable Selections: An Exhibition of Music in the St. John’s University Archives and Special Collections

April 11, 2014 – May 9, 2014
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor

music exhibitThis exhibition showcases the history of music at St. John’s, including a pamphlet (c.1909-1912) that give a description of the music courses offered for adults and children at the time, a Glee Club record album, and pictures from a James Taylor concert in the 80’s. Also included are a variety of items from Special Collections, from historical children’s books with nursery rhymes and songs, to operas and illustrated collections of famous songs and composers. All of these and more music-related books and historical materials are available for research in the St. John’s University Archives and Special Collections.

Exhibition: Sacred Botany: Seed, Leaf, Flower in the Healing Arts

An Exhibition of Botanical Specimens from the Mary Garden at St. John’s
February 13 – March 5, 2014
St. Augustine Hall 4th Floor
St. John’s University

Mary Garden

Hidden within the pages of illuminated manuscripts, books of hours and breviaries, intricately illustrated botanical specimens have formed an integral part of medieval manuscripts and religious iconography and later, the Renaissance aesthetics. They illustrate botanical symbolism and its Christian orientation and enhance the visual beauty of a work on paper.

For Mariology students (THEO 3215) of Prof. Andrea Florendo as cross-curricular Mary Gardeners, they constitute intriguing footnotes to the larger but related subjects of art, botany & theology. Their Academic Service- Learning and participation in Learning Communities events lead in part to artistic documentation and record-keeping of botanical specimens from the Mary Garden at St. John’s habitat, and preserved in a herbarium at St. Albert’s Hall for research purposes. Several works from the Library’s Special Collections showcase images of plants that are used to sustain not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

Exhibition: Books as Historical Artifacts: An Examination of the Book Beyond the Text

April 24, 2013 – May 14, 2013
St. Augustine Hall, 3rd Floor
rare book 2Physical books are both texts and artifacts; objects that indicate distinct histories of design, production and use.  Printed works reflect the technologies of paper and parchment making, type casting and printing, and binding – each recording historical developments in book production. They also give clues to past ownership and readership through book plates, inscriptions, marginalia and the occasional ephemera tucked inside their pages (clippings, letters, pressed flowers, etc.). It may well be that the future of the physical book is in peril, replaced by electronic and digitized versions. But books as artifacts of the past will continue to impart other meanings beyond the textual content.

The twelve books on exhibition – dating from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries – were examined and described by graduate students in the Library and Information Science and Public History programs at St. John’s University. The class on special collections librarianship and the history of books and printing was taught by archivist and special collections librarian, Dr. Blythe Roveland-Brenton. The co-curators are: Audrey Belanger, Katie Daniels, Nicole Husbands, Egita Johnson, David McMahon, Janay Meertens-Deans, Kendra Meyer, Christina Orozco, Melissa Perlzweig, Laura Smith, Matthew Weidemann, and Porscha Williams.

Interested in these or other rare books from the University Libraries Special Collections department? Contact us at archives@stjohns.edu to make an appointment.

Exhibition: Original Leaves from Famous Books 1122 A.D. – 1935 A.D. and Original Leaves from Famous Bibles 1115 A.D. – 1935 A.D.

Selections from collections assembled by Otto F. Ege

September 18, 2013 – October 11, 2013

Armenian Manuscript

Armenian Manuscript Bible, 1121 A.D. One Leaf. Original Leaves from Famous Bibles, 1121 A.D. – 1935 A.D. Collection assembled by Otto F. Ege. St. John’s University Archives and Special Collections.

The Special Collections department at St. John’s University is home to a two unique collections; Original Leaves from Famous Bibles, 1121 A.D. – 1935 A.D. and Original Leaves from Famous Books 1122 A.D. – 1935 A.D (set 27 of 40). These collections were complied by Otto F. Ege, a professor of art history and private collector of manuscripts.

A selection of 24 leaves from the Otto F. Ege collections at St. John’s University will be on view in the main library.
Original leaves on view from September 18 – October 2

History of Rome / Livy, 1436 A.D. Italy. One Leaf.
The Justinian Code, 1512 A.D. Paris. Printed by Thielman Kerver. One Leaf.
Anatomy / Vesalius, 1555 A.D. Basle. Printed by Johannes Oporinus. One Leaf.
Ship of Fools / Barclay, 1570 A.D. London. Printed by John Cawood. One Leaf.
The Fourth Folio (The Tragedy of Othello) / William Shakespeare, 1685 A.D. London. Printed by H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley. One Leaf.
Beowulf, 1895 A.D. London. Printed by the Kelmscott Press. One Leaf.

Armenian Manuscript Bible, 1121 A.D. One Leaf
Miniature Manuscript Bible, Circa 1240 A.D. One Leaf.
King James Bible, 1611 A.D. Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Maiestie. Two Leaves.
Eliot Indian Bible, 1685 A.D. S. Green, Cambridge. One Leaf.
First Germantown Bible, 1743 A.D. Germantown: Gedruckt bey Christoph Saur. One Leaf.
Doves’ Bible, 1903-1905 A.D. The Doves Press No. 1 The Terrace Hammersmith. One Leaf.

Original leaves on view from October 2 – October 11

The Vulgate Bible / St. Jerome, circa 1240 A.D. Paris. One Leaf.
The Divine Comedy / Dante Alighieri, 1491 A.D. Venice. Printed by Petrus de Piasio. One Leaf.
The Nuremberg Chronicle / Dr. Hartmann Schedel, 1493 A.D. Nuremberg. Printed by Anton Koberger. One Leaf.
Metamorphoses / Ovid, 1527 A.D. Venice. Printed by Helizabeth de Rusconibus. One Leaf.
History of Plants / Gerard, 1597 A.D. London. Printed by John Norton. One Leaf.
Don Quixote / Miguel de Cervantes, 1608 A.D. Madrid. Printed by Juan De La Cuesta. One Leaf.

Paris Manuscript Bible, Circa 1310 A.D. One Leaf.
Italian Incunabula Bible, 1495 A.D. Paganinus de Paganinis: Venetiis. One Leaf.
Giunta Bible, 1519 A.D. Venetiis: Lucas Antonius de Giunta One Leaf.
Suppressed Luther Bible, 1541 A.D. Gedruckt zu Leipzig durch Nicolaum Woltrab. One Leaf.
Plantin Hebrew Bible, 1584 A.D. Antuerpiae: Ex officina Christophori Plantini. One Leaf.
London Polyglot Bible (O.T.), 1655 A.D. Londini, Imprimebat Thomas Roycroft. One Leaf.

For more information or to conduct research with these collections,
please contact the University Archives and Special Collections
at archives@stjohns.edu or 718-990-1465.

Limited Editions

Limited EditionsSome of the more unusual items in the Limited Edition collection are art exhibit catalogues and folders containing original lithographs and etchings. The Colophon (1932-1938) and the New Colophon (1948-1950) are examples of limited editions periodicals.

Search the Limited Edition books in the library’s catalog.

Rare Books

Rare Books

Search the rare books collection in the library’s catalog.

The St. John’s University Libraries own one of the ten extant copies of the third edition of the first German Bible printed in America. In 1776, all but a few copies of the Saur Bible were destroyed when the British invaded Germantown and converted the freshly printed leaves into litter for their horses and paper for their cartridges; hence its name–Gunwad Bible. Christoph Saur’s daughter Catherine rescued a handful of copies which she had bound for members of the family.

Among the Rare Books the Libraries also count an Ethiopian Psalter. This Amharic manuscript on vellum is attached to wooden boards and housed in its own goat-hide carrying case. Our holdings of three incunabula, a Bible printed in Venice 1492 and two different editions of St. Augustine’s works (1486 and 1497), represent the earliest Western printed book production efforts.

Much of the collection (over 800 volumes) consists of transfers from the general circulating collection and donations from parish, seminary and private clerical libraries. As a result there are several 16th- and 17th-century editions of works of the Church Fathers and 18th- and 19th-century writings of missionaries.

Fischer Lawn Tennis Collection

Fisher Lawn Tennis CollectionSearch the Fischer Lawn Tennis Collection books in the library’s catalog.

View the Introduction to the William M. Fischer Lawn Tennis Collection on YouTube.

William M. Fischer, an accountant by profession, was an avid tennis enthusiast. Starting in 1897 he built a varied collection of over 2,000 items including books, scrap books, periodicals, yearbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, souvenir programs and memorabilia. He also kept accounts in large bookkeeping ledgers on players’ personal data and game performance. Two of the earliest monographs on the game of tennis in the collection are C.F. Peile’s Lawn Tennis as a Game of Skill, 1884, and Lawn Tennis by James Dwight, 1886. The collection’s emphasis is on material through the early part of the century up to 1955. Several of the early books are signed by one or more tennis players.

The collection has had a few temporary stops since Mr. Fischer’s death. In 1947 through a trust indenture the title to the library went from Mr. Fischer to a board of trustees. In 1964 the trustees gave the collection to New York University (Bronx campus) to be made available for serious students of the game. Ten years later it was moved to The New York Public Library. In April 1978 the William M. Fischer Lawn Tennis Collection was officially opened in the St. John’s University Library, its permanent home.

Since its opening, the collection has generated much research interest. The photographs have been used to illustrate encyclopedias and tennis history books; fiction writers have also visited the collection in search of historical settings and interesting characters from the pages of periodicals. The many primary source documents include letters, score cards, minutes of meetings and an unpublished novel, as well as fifty years of newspaper clippings carefully pasted into notebooks. There is also memorabilia, a silver cup, several medals and a few of Mr. Fischer’s personal effects.


Children’s Historical Collection

Children's Historical CollectionSearch for Children’s Historical Collection books in the library’s catalog.

The primary emphasis of this collection donated by Anne Thaxter Eaton is children’s books of the 19th century. There are some 18th as well as a few 20th-century items among the 500 volumes in the collection. Judging by the very poor condition of the books they must have been uniformly well used and abused regardless of their age.

There are examples of original Caldecott picturebooks, McGuffey’s readers, as well as first editions of fables and stories illustrated by Arthur Rackham. In its entirety the collection reflects a good cross-section of the variety and types of educational and recreational periodicals, storybooks, primers and novels available to the children of the past century.