The collection holds three large archives of British political papers and a number of smaller collections and single manuscripts covering the period from the late Middle Ages to the early twentieth century. Some of these materials are copies of official documents and others are private papers, and there are a number of interesting eighteenth-century collectanea containing material from earlier periods.
The collection of the American designer, illustrator and author Edward Gorey (1925-2000) consists of books by and/or illustrated by him. The books, of which there are eighty-eight volumes, are mostly first editions and date from the period ca 1950 to 1980. As well, there is a small body of ephemera including book jackets by and articles about Gorey.
The collection was established ca 1969. It includes examples of the wood engravings of Thomas and John Bewick of Newcastle, England, from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Both monographs (89) illustrated by them and scrapbooks of examples of their work are present. Of particular interest is the recently acquired 1826 edition of A History of British Birds. It is heavily annotated throughout, with notes on the impression of the plates, the descriptions of the birds and the order of the entries on almost every page.
The collection's holdings of English literary papers are diverse. The earliest item is four leaves from a fifteenth-century copy of John Lydgate's translation of Boccaccio's The Fall of Princes. The rest of the material is of a much later date, primarily of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Poetry, including some anonymous collectanea, is especially well represented. For example, there is an interesting early eighteenth-century manuscript containing a version of Yarico to Inkle: An Epistle attributed to Edward Moore.
The collection was established in the late 1970s. Books with decorated cloth bindings were gathered from uncatalogued materials, including donations. The collection has been added to subsequently by purchase and donation. The collection is composed of some 1100 volumes significant for their decorated (pictorial or lettered) cloth bindings published between 1850 and 1950. The bulk of the collection falls between approximately 1890 and 1920. The collection is arranged chronologically and access is through card files of main entries and illustrators.
Rare Books has significant holdings of eighteenth-century French literature including thirty-seven original and later editions of many of the works by Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne. For Louis Sébastien Mercier there are four eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century editions of L'an deux mille quatre cent quarante as well as two English translations from the same period and other works. Other authors represented include Crébillon Père (1674-1762), Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, Bernard de Fontenelle, Mme.
The bookplate collection comprises more than 6000 Canadian and non-Canadian bookplates. The bookplate collection of the Montrealer Philippe Masson (1911-1944), including both personal and institutional plates, contains the major portion of the Canadian bookplates, over 3000, and is arranged alphabetically. It was acquired in 1972. There are indexes to the Masson collection including ones for names, designers and mottoes and quotations. The rest of the bookplate collection is divided between armorial and non-armorial plates with the Canadian plates arranged separately.
The strength of the collection is the discovery and exploration of North America. Among the earliest accounts of voyages to North America is Ramusio's Navagationi et Viaggi (Venice, 1556). Maps of discovery include Cornelius Claesz's Nova Francia (Amsterdam, 1594), Willem Barents Deliniatio Cartae trium navagationum (1598) and Hessel Gerritsz's Tabula Nautica (Amsterdam, 1612). Manuscript plans of New France by Jehan Bourdon dated 1635-1642, are also worthy of mention.
There is a great variety of material—Canadian, English and European—in the collection documenting the history of the book. In addition to a number of single items and small collections including a copy of the will of Thomas Bewick's daughter Isabella (1883), a letter of Jean Baptiste Bodoni (1792), a letter of Fleury Mesplet (1789), and two letters of Brown and Gilmour (1768), there are a number of large archival collections. Of particular interest are the papers of the English book designer Christopher Sandford (c.
The European section of the Collection, consisting of over 2,000 prints, includes works by some of the most renowned figures in the history of prints, such as Albrecht Dürer, Jacques Callot, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and Wenceslaus Hollar. Modern European printmaking is represented by works by Stanley Anderson, Seymour Haden, Albert Besnard, Edgar Chahine, Felix Braquemond, and others.
The collection was established in 1953, the nucleus being the two hundred and fifty items donated by Dr. Lawrence Lande. It has been added to regularly. The collection includes first, early and variant editions of William Blake's literary works and his illustrations for books by Blair (The Grave), Young (Night Thoughts) and others. As well, there are facsimiles of Blake's coloured works; original engravings by Blake and his school; and editions of works by his friends and followers such as Fuseli, Palmer and Calvert. There is also modern criticism of Blake.
There are some excellent maps of London and Paris, as well as some regional plans of England and France. Louis Bretez's Plan de Paris (Paris, 1739) is a magnificent bird's-eye view. Joseph Nicolas de L'Isle's Atlas Russicus (St. Petersburg, 1745) exemplifies the French contribution to Russian cartography. Dmitriy Petin's [General map of the Russian Empire] (Moscow, 1785) is an important example of Russian cartography.
Rodolphe Joubert donated his collection to the library in 1979. It consists of over 3000 books, pamphlets and periodicals, almost entirely in French. The collection documents the history of Quebec mainly from the 1860s to the 1970s and includes material on French Canadian politics, economics and cultural life. There are some eighteenth-century items as well. Of particular note are the Quebec parish histories. Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.
This collection was acquired in 1969. The collection comprises some 687 items dating from the 1920s to the 1960s. Much of the material is from the United States including a long run of pamphlets by the American Communist Earl Browder. Other material comes from China, the former Soviet Union (including a series of pamphlets by Joseph Stalin), India and other countries. There are numerous reports of Communist Party meetings from various countries. All of the material is in English.
The Print Collection includes approximately 1000 Canadian prints. Historical prints include Hervey Smyth's Six Views of the Most Remarkable Places of the Gulf and Rivers St. Lawrence (published in 1760), Richard Short's Twelve Views of the Principal Buildings in Quebec... (1761), a hand-coloured set of twenty-three lithographs, Sketches in the Canadas, (1840) after drawings by Coke Smyth, and a set of four Montreal street scenes, drawn by John Murray and engraved and published by Adolphus Bourne in the early 1840s.
A representative selection of the papers of nineteenth and twentieth century Canadian authors is held among the private papers and archives. This material includes single items, small bodies of private papers and a number of large archives for both major and minor figures. The holdings are particularly strong in poetry.
The holdings of private papers and archives relevant to Canadian history are extensive. They can be grouped under a number of subjects: the fur trade and early business papers, family papers, politics etc.
The Norman Friedman Boy Scout Collection was given to the library by its creator in 1946. Norman H. Friedman was not only a Montreal book collector but also was very active as an adult leader in the scouting movement. The collection contains some 341 titles in 830 volumes including short runs of serials. The material is almost exclusively British and Canadian and dates before 1950. Many of the items are of an ephemeral or pamphlet nature, but there is a copy of the first edition, in parts, of Scouting for Boys (1908) as well as later editions.
The C.P. Snow collection was given to the library in 1987 by its creator Brian Coleman of Vancouver. The collection of some sixty-seven volumes includes both first and later editions of Snow, both fiction and non-fiction. There is an uncorrected proof copy of The Malcontents and a number of autographed copies. Eighty percent have their dust jackets.
Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.
This collection, purchased in 1976 by the Comparative Literature programme at McGill, comprises some 1083 volumes of twentieth century western and cowboy fiction. The collection includes runs of the works of B.M. Bower (Bertha Muzzy Sinclair), Max Brand (Frederick Faust), Zane Grey and William MacLeod Raine. Most of the titles are early editions, but a few are later printings by such firms as Grosset & Dunlap. All but two of the volumes are cloth bound and more that sixty percent have their dust-jackets.
Rare Books has extensive holdings of eighteenth, nineteenth and twenty-century English language theatre. The seventy-seven volumes assembled by Sir John C. Hobhouse (1786-1869), the friend of Byron, contain some 480 play scripts, 1711-1818. The collection was assembled by Adam de Cardonnel-Lawson (d. 1820) antiquary or possibly by his son of the same name (d. 1838) whose name is inscribed on many title pages. Many of the volumes have contemporary clippings inserted. These volumes were acquired in 1921.
The Roy States collection was donated by his estate in 1981. States, a long-time employee of McGill University, was concerned both with documenting the Black experience and providing a positive image for Black youth. To this end, he gathered together a body of diverse materials concerning Afro-American history. The collection of some 1,200 items includes monographs, newspapers, off-prints, articles and some photographs. While much of the material relates to North America in general, there is material relating to Canada and Montreal.
Established ca 1900, the collection has as its nucleus forty volumes of political pamphlets gathered by Sir John Bramston, M.P. (1611-1700). To this core, acquired by Mrs. Peter Redpath of Montreal in 1901, were added a series of tracts given by her husband, the Montreal businessman and philanthropist, Peter Redpath in 1880 and another series given by Mrs. Redpath in 1903. Extensive additions have been made since.
The Arthur Rackham Collection was acquired in 1955 from the collector Dr. Arthur C. Hill of Sherbrooke, Quebec. Additional items have been added since and the collection now comprises some 200 monographs with illustrations by Rackham, numerous issues of the early magazines to which he contributed illustrations and some ephemera. It is representative of the artwork that Rackham produced throughout his career with examples of most of the different media in which he worked as a book illustrator.
The collection was acquired in 1992 from an American family that had been friends of Walter de la Mare (1873-1956). The collection includes most of Walter de la Mare's published writings, often in multiple editions; in many cases the dust jacket is present. Many of the volumes are author's presentation copies. The collection includes 135 titles, 89 letters from de la Mare, 3 photographic portraits and numerous off-prints.
Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.
The map collection consists of about 6,000 maps and 500 atlases, dating from 1556 to 1940. The collection strengths are discovery and exploration of North America, Montreal and Europe. Early atlases include Claudius Ptolemy's Geografia (Padua, 1620-1621), Thomas Porcacchi's L'Isole piu famuso del Mondo (Padua, 1620), and Andreas Cellarius's Harmonia macrocosmica (Amsterdam: Jansson, 1661). Significant maps in the collection include plates from the atlases of Willem Blaeu, Gerard Mercator and Abraham Ortelius.
The collection was formed by the Danish Kierkegaard scholar Prof. Gregor Malantschuk and acquired in 1980. The collection now numbers some 1553 monographs and includes a complete set of first editions of Søren Kierkegaard's works and a reconstruction of a significant part of his private library. A copy of the sale catalogue of his library is also part of the collection.
The Blackader-Lauterman Collection of Rare Books was formed following the First World War from two private endowments and augmented by numerous donations and purchases. Architectural treatises from the Renaissance to the 18th century are at the core of the Blackader-Lauterman Collection. First and early editions of Vitruvius, Alberti, Serlio, Palladio, Scamozzi, Vasari, Vignola, du Cerceau, Blondel, Perrault, and Ledoux are among the most important titles.
There are some two hundred and twenty-five medieval European manuscript books, including complete texts, fragments of texts, single leaves and initials. These date from the late eighth or early ninth centuries to the eighteenth century. Although Italian material of the fifteenth century predominates, there is also French and German material and some English and Spanish.
The Napoleon collection was a particular interest of the University Librarian, Richard Pennington, (1947-1964) and was developed during his tenure. Beginning with a small donation of books and prints from the Canadian publisher Frederick Southam, the collection was assembled with the advice of Paul Fleuriot de Langle, curator of the Musée Marmottan in Paris and a specialist in Napoleon and the art of the Empire, and of the Parisian print dealer Paul Prouté.