Strong Room Collection
The Strong Room Collection holds the University of Adelaide Library’s oldest and rarest books, majority of which were published before 1700. The collection also contains books which are highly significant to University and South Australian history, as well as rare and unique titles.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Books with significant former owners
- Early religious texts and bibles
- Botanicals (many hand coloured)
- Voyages, Travels and Exploration
- Science and Mathematics
- Early Classical Literature
- Custom/Unique bindings and private press books
- First editions
- Celebration books
Housed within the collection are four incunabula (books published in the first 50 years of moveable type printing, 1450-1500) the oldest of which, Bruni's Leonardi Arretini Epistolarum Familiarium was published in 1472. As well as a facsimile reproduction of the first book printed in this method, the Gutenberg Bible.
The Gutenberg Bible, along with Galileo's Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche and Geoffrey Dutton's New York Nowhere were each purchased as celebrations for the University of Adelaide Library reaching collection milestones of half a million, a million and 2 million books in the collection respectively.
Some additional items of note in the collection include:
- Personal desk Bible of South Australian pioneer, George Fife Angus
- Galileo's final published work Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze (1638)
- The beautifully hand-painted albums of Rosa Fiveash's Orchid Paintings by (1906-1932)
- The first poetry book to be published in Australia First Fruits of Australian Poetry by Barron Field (1819)
- First edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922)
- Serial edition of Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers (1836-37) and the subsequent 'pirated' edition published in Launceston, Tasmania by Henry Dowling in 1839
- William Morris’ Sire Degrevaunt (1897); spectacularly hand bound in silk and satin by the Royal College of Needlework, London.
- The only book to be complete written, published and bound in the Antarctic; Aurora Australis: published at the winter quarters of the British Antarctic expedition, 1907, during the winter months of April, May, June, July 1908 (1908).
- The beautifully embroidered wedding apron of Mrs. Garrick.
- The signed limited edition of Leon Bakst's illustrations and designs for the Russian Ballet, The Decorative Art of Leon Bakst (1913)
Works in the Strong Room collection are identified in the Library catalogue by the location type 'Rare Books & Manuscripts Strong Room Collection'.
Due to the fragile nature of many of these works, requests cannot be placed for Strong Room books through Library Search. For access to Strong Room items, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your request