In addition to specialized subject collections, the Special Collections and Archives Department maintains a wide variety of print material that includes approximately 1,000 books. Materials are devoted to a wide range of topics, such as literature, religion, the printing industry, and histories of Europe and America. These volumes are located in Special Collections because of their early date of publication, rare or unique format, subject matter, scarceness, or fragile condition.
The oldest book in the collection is a copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses printed in Venice by Aldus in 1502. The oldest book printed in America in the collection is Cicero's Cato Major printed by Ben Franklin in 1754. In celebration of the Libraries' 500,000th acquisition, a first edition (published in London in 1884) of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was purchased as accession number 499,999. Another first edition in the collection is a copy of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, published in 1864.
This collection also maintains several interesting facsimiles which faithfully reproduce rare works held in other institutions around the world. One is a 1985 reproduction of the world's first printed work, the Gutenberg Bible, Biblia Sacra (c. A.D. 1456). Additional facsimiles include Audubon's Birds of America, and the First Folio of Shakespeare (A.D. 1623). Due to their format, the papyrus facsimiles of the Altagyptischer Jenseitsfuhrer: Papyrus Berlin 3127 and How Djadja-em-Ankh Saved the Day (c. 2300 B.C.) are also accessed through the Special Collections Department.
Researchers may search the holdings of the Special Collections Department by using SWAN, the Missouri State University Libraries' online catalog.
Check out the rare books' Facebook page. Each month we feature a different animal from Edward Topsell's 1607 volume, The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes.