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Roxburghe Club Collection

Number of items: 300 items

The Roxburghe Club is the oldest society of bibliophiles in the world, founded in June 1812 on the eve of the sale of the celebrated library of the Duke of Roxburghe (John Ker (1740-1804), third Duke of Roxburghe). The John Rylands Library holds the copy of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decamerone ([Venice]: Christofal Valdarfer, 1471) which fetched the then record price of £2260 at the Roxburghe sale. The Marquess of Blandford (George Spencer-Churchill (1766-1840), fifth Duke of Marlborough) saw off competition from his cousin Lord Spencer (George John Spencer (1758-1834), second Earl Spencer) to secure the Boccaccio in 1812, but Spencer ultimately triumphed, paying a mere £918 15s for it when Blandford was forced to sell seven years later.

Each member of the Club is expected to produce a book at his or her own expense for presentation to the other members. Examples include previously unpublished manuscripts and reprints of rare printed texts, across a wide range of subjects. Many Roxburghe publications have made significant contributions to bibliographical studies, as well as being examples of fine printing and typography in their own right.

The Library holds a nearly complete set of the publications of the Club, many of the volumes being the personal copies of members. Worthy of special notice is Lord Spencer’s own copy, uniquely printed on vellum and handsomely illuminated, of Ovid's The First Three Books of Ovid De Tristibus, translated into English by Thomas Churchyarde (London: W. Bulmer and Co., 1816). This was the third publication of the Club, and the first to be presented to its members by Lord Spencer, who was President of the Club from its inception until his death in 1834.

Further Information:

Recorded in Library Search.

Other resources:

The Roxburghe Club website

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