All posts in Rare books

SFU Library Eric Swanick Special Collections Travel and Research Grant

Simon Fraser University Library invites applications for the Eric Swanick Special Collections Travel and Research Grant, which will help defray costs for researchers travelling to work with material from SFU’s Special Collections and Rare Books division. The grant is supported by the Eric Swanick Special Collections Travel and Research Grant Endowment, established in 2017 with gifts from colleagues and friends of the longtime SFU Special Collections Librarian in honour of his 2015 retirement, and from donors in support of Special Collections and Rare Books at the W.A.C. Bennett Library.

This endowment was established to recognize Eric Swanick’s significant contribution to the development of Special Collections at the SFU Library.

Eric’s tremendous legacy of collections at the SFU Libraries includes the history of the book; BC literary, social and political materials; and the Vancouver punk collection, among others. Under his leadership, Special Collections became renowned for its events featuring prominent collectors, authors, printers and researchers.

Further details are available at 

The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library

The Great Book(s) of Nature: The Origins and Treasures of Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Garden Library. Presentation by Spencer W. Stuart at Van Dusen Gardens. Saturday, March 24th at 2:00PM.




Rachel Lambert Mellon (1910-2014), often known as Bunny Mellon, was an American horticulturalistgardenerphilanthropist, and art collector. She designed and planted several significant gardens, including the White House Rose Garden and assembled, over 80 years, one of the most comprehensive botanical and horticultural book collections in private hands. In 1981, the Oak Spring Garden Library was founded on her estate in Virginia.

Join Art and Collections Historian, Spencer W. Stuart, for a presentation and discussion of the earliest treasures from her collection. The lecture will focus on French and English publications from the late 17th century that offer early examples of horticulture during a period of dynamic learning, debate and public interest in the development and maintenance of gardens.

Spencer W Stuart holds a Masters in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, UK, and received the Director’s Award upon his completion of the degree. He has worked with Bonhams Auctioneers, focusing on Rare Books and Manuscripts in both Toronto and New York. He now resides in Vancouver, where he operates a collection management practice.

This event will be followed by a tour of the library’s collections, its current Roberta Mickelson Gallery art exhibition, and information about current and upcoming programs.


The Canadian Hellenic Cultural Society Presents two Illustrated Lectures: Monday, March 27

This lecture hosted by the Canadian Hellenic Cultural Society in Vancouver might be of interest to some of our readers:

Greek Bibles

Dr. Cillian O’Hogan, UBC Classics

Monday 27 March 2017 at 7:30 pm

Upper Hall, Hellenic Community Centre

The fourth century saw the creation of pandects – large manuscripts containing all the books of the Old and New Testament – for the first time. Remarkably, two of these pandects survive almost intact: Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, both written in Greek. These two manuscripts reveal a great deal about the formation of the Christian canon, book production in late antiquity, and the history of scripture. This talk will explore some of the most interesting features of these late antique Bibles, and address the controversial question of the circumstances of their creation. Continue Reading…

Talk Features Early BC Book Collectors

Back in February of 2011 the then Head of Rare Books and Special Collection at UBC Library, and Alcuin Board member, Ralph Stanton presented a lecture at Robson Square with the title The Collections & Collectors of UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections.

I recently had an opportunity to see and hear the lecture via the UBC Library web site. It covers the major, and some minor collections acquired by UBC Rare Books from the 1940’s until the 2000’s. I found the presentation on early B.C. publications and collectors like Judge F.W. Howay particularly interesting. The talk is accompanied by a slide show that features some the important items collected and is enlivened by slides of many of the bookplates of the various collectors.

The talk and slide show is available at: and is downloadable.

Book collecting: Rationalizing Collecting #2 – The Vancouver Poetry Society

In my last “Rationalizing Collecting” post, I started by noting that as a long-time student, book buying is hard to do on a limited budget unless you can justify the collecting as contributing towards your research. Most of my friends from the Master’s in English program at UBC fall quite heavily into this category, as their apartments burst at the seams with lovely books of all kinds. I was the only one of the group who actively collected antiquarian books, which to their amusement, often consisted of rather bad early Vancouver poetry. Hold your judgement: there is a good story behind this.

Continue Reading…

Book collecting: Rationalizing Collecting #1 – Canadian Children’s Literature

Until last summer, I had been a student for almost a decade when I graduated from the combined Master of Library and Information Studies and Master of Archival Studies program at UBC. Being a student means a limited budget for book collecting, but I found one way to continue to rationalize the buying of books: use them for your research. It’s not like I got to write off the costs, but at least I could justify book buying as contributing towards my education, right?

Continue Reading…

Very rare book to be auctioned at the Penticton Art Gallery’s annual fundraiser this Saturday

Each summer the Penticton Art Gallery holds an auction to raise funds for its endowment. Most of the items to be auctioned are paintings or graphics, but this year there’s one very rare book that was donated to aid the gallery. It is an incunabulum – a Latin word meaning cradle or beginning – which is used for any book printed in the 15th century, during the infancy of printing in Europe. The vast bulk of incunabula are already in public collections or private libraries, so they do not come to the market very often. In addition, most editions from the period survive only in a few copies. Hence their ever-rising prices in the rare book market. Continue Reading…

Publishing the Lande Bibliography

THE LANDE BIBLIOGRAPHY is a very special, lavishly produced book that reflects the monumental Lawrence Lande Collection of Canadiana that Lawrence had just donated to McGill with the proviso that McGill produce a catalog of the collection. I had just come to the McGill Press and, when handed the the project, decided that such a collection demanded a monumental book so I bought a special mouldmade paper from Spain, linen bookcloth from Holland, pigskin and Oasis Niger goatskins from Britain and hand-made papers from Britain and Italy. It was Mono-type-set in Montreal in Bulmer, the same type as you are reading here [below]. We thought the book must be printed in Canada but there was no printer capable of such a feat here, so McGill bought a Heidelberg cylinder press and we hired Ib Kristensen to come from Vancouver and print the book for us, two pages as a time on beautiful Spanish paper on the press shown here, set in the basement of Redpath Hall next to the library. Continue Reading…