Discover UOW libraries

Rare Books Collection

The Library holds a small, though varied collection of rare books, pamphlets and ephemera, numbering some 900 individual items.

The Collection, housed in the Ground Floor reading room, contains publications dating from as early as 1582 (Boccacci's Il Decameron).

Other highlights include limited edition art books such as Morris West's The Heretic - A Play in Three Acts (Sydney, 1988), scientific treatises including William Whitson's A New Theory of the Earth (London, 1696), and more recent material.

Original books in the Library's collection published prior to 1800 (numbering some 35 items) are also housed in Rare Books and listed below.

Accessing and using the Collection

  • The Rare Books Collection is housed in the Archives Reading Room on the ground floor of the Library
  • All items can be located through the Library catalogue.
  • To access items from the Rare Books Collection, ask at the service point in the Library foyer.
  • Rare books cannot be borrowed or photocopied, due to their inherent rarity and fragility.


  • Giovanni Boccacci, Il Decameron di Messer Giovanni Boccacci, Cittadin Fiorentino, Per li Giunti di Firenze, Venezia, 1582. Censured edition, bound in vellum. 853.1/Boc/16
  • Morris West, The Heretic - A Play in Three Acts, Isotame Press, Sydney, 1988. One of 20 original copies bound in vellum and illustrated with original lithographic prints by Idris Murphy. 828.992004/Wes-1/1
  • L. Holmes and G. Black, Oddilly the Goat, Lloyd McPherson, Canberra, 1988. Illustrated book on acid-free paper, with original hand-coloured linocuts and calligraphic text. 828.993004/Hol-5/1
  • R.G. Chapman and C.T. Duval, Charles Darwin 1809-1882: A Centennial Commemoration, Nova Pacifica, Wellington, 1982, 376p. Edition of 750 copies, bound in leather with slip case. 515.0762/88
  • William Shakespeare, The Works of William Shakespeare: The text of the First Folio with Quart Variants and a Selection of Modern Readings, 7 volumes, Nonesuch Press, New York, 1929-33. Edition of 1050 copies, bound in full leather. 822.33-I/5
  • Sydney Ure Smith (ed.), Art in Australia, Ure Smith, Sydney, 1916-44. A collection of various volumes from the first and second series. 705.0994/1

Items published prior to 1800

For the 35 items in this group, the following information is given: date of publication, author, title, publication details and University of Wollongong Library location number.

  • 1582 - Giovanni Boccacci, Il Decameron di Messer Giovanni Boccacci, Cittadin Fiorentino...., Per li Giunti di Firenze, Venezia. 853.1/Boc/16

  • 1638 - Francis Bacon, History Naturall and Experimental of Life and Death or of the Prolongation of Life, J. Haviland, London, 434p. 192/Bac/10

  • 1665 - Robert Boyle, Occasional Reflections Upon Several Subjects: Whereto is Premis'd a Discourse about Such Kind of Thoughts, W. Wilson, London, 229p. 100/22

  • 1687 - John Norris, A Collection of Miscellanties: Consisting of Poems, Essays, Discourses, and Letters, Occasionally Written, John Crosley, Oxford, 467p. 828.4/Nor-1/1

  • 1688 - Diogenes Laertius, De Vitis Philosphorum. The Lives, Opinions, and Remarkable Sayings of the Most Famous Ancient Philosophers, Edward Brewster, London, 589p.180.92/2

  • 1692 - John Jewel, Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae, T. Dring, Londini, 183p. 283.42/56

  • 1696 - William Whiston, A New Theory of the Earth: From its original to the Consumation of All Things. Wherein the Creation of the World in Six Days, the Universal Deluge, and the General Conflagration as laid down in the Holy Scriptures, are shewn to be perfectly agreeable to Reason and Philosophy, R. Roberts, London, 388p. 550/63

  • 1700 - T. Brown et al., The Whole Comical Works of Monsr. Scarron. Containing I. His Comical Romance of a Company of Stage Players. In Three Parts, Compleat. II. All His Novels and Histories. III. His Select Letters, Characters, etc., S. and F. Sprint et al., London, 359, 160, 64p. 843.4/SCA/1

  • 1704 - Samuel Wesley, The History of the Old and New Testament Attempted in Verse: and Adorn'd with Three Hundred and Thirty Sculpture, C. Harper, London, 350p. 221/8

  • 1706 - John Locke, Posthumous Works of Mr John Locke, A. and J. Churchill, London, 336p. 192/Loc/17

  • 1715 - Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli et Pacis. Rights of War and Peace: In Three Volumes, in which are explain'd the Laws and Claims of Nature and Nations..., 3 vols., Brown, Ward & Meares, London. 341/19

  • 1718 - Freiherr von Samuel Pufendorf, De Officio Hominis et Civis. Les Deviors del L'Homme et Due Citoien Tels Qu'ils Lui Font Preferits par la Loi naturelle. Traduits du Latin de Feu Mr. Le Baron de Pufendorf par Jean Barbeyrac, 2 vols., Pierre de Coup, Amsterdam. 340.1/94

  • 1726 - Issac Watts, Logick: or the right use of reason in the enquiry after truth: with a variety of rules to guard against error, in the affairs of religion and human life, as well as in the sciences, John Clark et al., London, 365p.160/95

  • 1730 - William Whiston, Historical Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Samuel Clarke: Being a Supplement to Dr Syke's and Bishop Hoadley's Accounts. Including certain Memoirs of several of Dr. Clarke's Friends, Fletcher Gyles and J. Roberts, London, 111p. 110.0924/1

  • 1731 - William Wollasten, The Religion of Nature Delineated, James and John Knapton, London, 219p. 210/16

  • 1733 - Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Letters Concerning the English Nation, Davis, London, 267p. 914.2/10A

  • 1734-38 - Pierre Bayle, Dictionnaire Historique et Critique. Mr Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary, 5 vols., J.J. and P. Knapton, London. 920.02/11

  • 1739 - The History of the Life of Peter the First, Emperor of Russia: Containing a description of Russia or Muscovy, Siberia, Crim Tartary, etc. With an account of the government, religion, ceremonies and superstitions, customs, manners and dress of the inhabitants, Booksellers in Town and Country, London, 387p. 947.05/12

  • 1739 - Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Seneca's Morals by Way of Abstract: To which is added, A Discourse Under the Title of An After-Thought, by Sir Rober L'Estrange, Knt., G. Strahan et al., London, 28, 475p. 170.202/25

  • 1740 - John Banks, A New History of the Life and Reign of the Czar Peter the Great, J. Hodges, London, 354p. 947.050924/10

  • 1747 - Antoine de la Fosse, Les Oeuvres de Monsieur de la Fosse: De la Fosse, Vol. 1, Compagnie des Libraires Affocies, Paris. 842.4/Laf/1

  • 1750 - Rene Antoine de Reaumer, The Art of Hatching and bringing up domestic fowls of all kind, at any time of the year: either by means of the heat of hot-beds or that of common fire, Davis, London, 470p. 636.5082/1

  • 1753 - Jonathan Swift, The Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol.7, G. Faulkner, Dublin. 827.5/SWI/30.

  • 1775 - Jonathon Edwards, A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of Will, which is supposed to be essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame, J. Johnson, London 432p. 230.58/3

  • 1779 - Pierre Abelard, Letters of Abelard and Heloise: To which is Prefixed a Particular Account of Their Lives, Armours and Misfortunes, by John Hughes; Together with The Poem of Eloisa to Abelard, by Pope, J. Vallance, Dublin, 233p. 189.4/11

  • 1784 - The New Annual Register, or, General Repository of History, Politics and Literature, G.G.J. and J. Robinson, London. 909/53

  • 1790-3 - James Beattie, Elements of Moral Science, 2 vols., Cadell and Creech, Edinburgh. 170/304

  • 1790-9 - William Smellie, The Philosophy of Natural History, 2vols., Charles Elliott, Edinburgh. 500.9/4

  • 1791 - Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England..., T. Cadell, London. 340.0942/5C

  • 1792 - John Hunter, Observations on certain parts of the Animal Oeconomy, G. Nicol, London, 277p. 591.4/5

  • 1792 - Sir John Comyns,. Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Courts of King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer..., Whieldon and Butterworth, London. 348.4104/1

  • 1794 - Tom Telescope, The Newtonian System of Philosophy: Adapted to the Capacilites of Young Ladies and Gentlemen, and Familiarized and Made Entertaining by Objects with which they are Intimately Acquainted, Ogilvy and Speare, London, 136p. 500/165

  • 1796 - John Lord Sheffield (ed.), Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon, 3 vols., P. Wogan et al., Dublin. 937.00924/1

  • 1799 - Religious Tract Society, Life of John Wesley, The Society, London, 233p. 189.4/11

  • 1799 - The Life of Catherine II, Empress of Russia: With seven Portraits Elegantly Engraved and a Correct Map of the Russian Empire, 3 vols., Longman & Rees, London. 947.063/8

Last reviewed: 23 March, 2018

Open today


Find all campus opening hours and contact details


Follow us

Facebook Twitter YouTube MyUOW