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$5m worth of rare books, $1.3m endowment donated to SLV

The State Library of Victoria (SLV) has received a donation of over $5m worth of rare books and an endowment of more than $1.3m to help manage the collection.

The collection of more than 5000 rare books, which belonged to Melbourne barrister John Emmerson, was donated following Emmerson’s death last year in accordance with his wishes.

The collection includes literary, political, religious and philosophical works from the 15th-18th century. Among the highlights are the writings of King James I, which belonged to his son King Charles I; a 1485 Bible printed in Nuremburg; early editions of classic works including Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy; and an illustrated copy of Edward Hyde’s The History of Rebellion and Civil Wars in England.

The collection is considered to be one of the largest and most valuable collections of rare English books and printed materials relating to King Charles I and the English Civil War. SLV history of the book manager Des Cowley has described the collection as ‘the most significant ever received by the State Library in its one-hundred-and-sixty year history’.

Alongside the collection, the Emmerson family has donated an endowment of over $1.3m with the aim of preserving, cataloguing and expanding the collection, as well as supporting the creation of the Emmerson Fellowship for research.

SLV will display a selection of items from the collection in the ‘Mirror of the World’ exhibition from September 2015.


Category: Library news