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The University of Manchester Library

Printed books

The University of Manchester Library's printed book collections are among the finest in the world.  Combining the strengths of the Spencer and Rylands collections with those of the former University Library, they form a principal resource for the study of book history, illustrating the origin and development of Western printing from the fifteenth century to the present day.

From the first and finest editions of the Greek and Latin classics, to the broadsides and chapbooks of the working-classes, the printed book collections cover a wide range of subjects: theology and philosophy; economic, social, political and military history; travel and exploration; literature, drama and music; art and archaeology; science and medicine.

In addition, the Library's 4,500 incunables, which represent over 500 European presses, include the largest collection of Aldines in the world and the second largest collection of works printed by Caxton.

[St. Christopher Woodcut, 1423, The Rylands Collection, Image number JRL020094tr]

The St. Christopher Woodcut (1423) - the earliest surviving example of European prining which bears a date.

 
[Pages from the Gutenberg Bible, The Rylands Collection, Image number JRL022342tr]

The 42-line or Gutenberg Bible (Mainz, c. 1455) - the first book to be printed in Europe using moveable metal type.

 
[Page from 'The Recuyell or the Histories of Troye', The Rylands Collection, image number JRL060378dc]

Caxton's The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye (Bruges, 1473?) - the first book to be printed in English.

 
[Pages from Shakespeares Sonnets, The Rylands Collection, Image number JRL022806tr]

All four Shakespeare Folios (1623, 1632, 1664 and 1685), plus the 1609 quarto edition of Mr Shakespeare's Sonnets.

 
[Caroline Parakeets, The Rylands Collection, Image number JRL030462tr]

Audubon's magnificent double-elephant folio The Birds of America: from original drawings (London, 1827-38).

 
[London Binding - 'Tale of King Florus and the fair Jehane' , The Rylands Collection, Image number JRL021165tr]

The Tregaskis and Dowd collections of fine bookbindings.

 
[Hallblithe embraces the Hostage from 'The story of the glittering plain', the Rylands Collection, Image number JRL022802tr]

All 53 publications of William Morris's Kelmscott Press.