Rare Books

The College Library was founded in 1698 when Faculty members donated books for our first home at the Trongate in Glasgow. We have been collecting books both old and new ever since, and our collection of rare books stretches back to the 15th century. We hold many fine examples of important historical texts, with particularly strong representation in medicine, surgery, botany and materia medica from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Among our most treasured medical and surgical texts are: the first edition of Vesalius' landmark anatomy text, 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica' (1543), in a wonderful contemporary binding; a very rare copy of 'An easie, certain, and perfect method, to cure and prevent the Spanish sicknes' by our founder Peter Lowe; all four editions of Lowe's 'The Whole Course of Chirurgerie'; William Hunter's beautifully engraved 'Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus' (1774); and Bartisch's 'Ophthalmodouleia' (1583), notable for its woodcut illustrations of ocular disease and its use of moveable flaps, called fugitive sheets, to provide a detailed anatomical study of the eye.

The oldest printed volume in our collection is a 1479 printing of a medieval medicinal-botany text, the 'Liber Aggregatus' of Serapion the Younger. This, along with four other volumes, makes up our small collection of incunabula (i.e. books printed before 1501).

We also hold many fascinating non-medical texts, including the Collected Works of King James VI and I (1616), photograph albums of the old closes of Glasgow and the country houses of the Glasgow gentry (1878) by Thomas Annan, and 2 volumes of the stunning 'Birds of America' by John James Audubon.

This is just a small sample from our wide ranging collection of rare books. Most of the collection can be found on our online catalogue and we are regularly adding new records to make our collections more discoverable.

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