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Rare Books and Manuscripts

A Featured Collection in ASU's Distinctive Collections

Book Arts and Fine Printing

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 its masterpiece, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted (1896), better known as the Kelmscott Chaucer. These 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.

Artists' Books

RBM'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.

Pop-Up Books

The Eugene D. Valentine Pop-Up Book Collection contains examples of numerous movable book formats on a large variety of subjects from Disney alphabet books to books for adults on menopause and cigars. RBM holds additional pop-up books which can be found under the subject heading Toy and Movable Books in the library catalog.

The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.