The Book Arts Collection contains books about fine printing, binding, and handmade papers and books printed by fine presses. Although numerous fine presses are represented, RBM has notable holdings of rare books printed by two fine presses established in 1891, the Kelmscott Press, founded by William Morris in Hammersmith, England, and the Thomas Bird Mosher Press in Portland, Maine.
RBM holds many of the Kelmscott Press's publications, including The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted (1896), better known as the Kelmscott Chaucer. This work represents the full realization of Morris's vision of the ideal book and is the pinnacle of the Kelmscott Press's publications. The materials complement RBM's Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Collection.
The collection of Thomas Bird Mosher publications is the second largest publicly held collection and is one of the most complete in existence. It represents the work of a central figure in the revival of printing in the United States at the turn of the century. In contrast to Morris who was inspired by medieval manuscripts and incunabula, Mosher drew stylistic influence from Aldus Manutius and the French Renaissance.
RMS's collection of Contemporary Artists' Books include about 300 items (not including those in Open Stacks), most published after 1980. Represented in this collection are Susan Allix, Julie Chen, Joe D'Ambrosio, Johanna Drucker, Ron King, Susan Elizabeth King, Clifton Meador, John Risseeuw, Dieter Roth among many others. Complementing and enhancing RBM's collection are new artists' books from Mexico and Brazil that are being acquired for the Latin Americana Collection.