Rare Books

The Hortus Sanitatis, 1517. The Research Library's volume is extraordinarily annotated, with additional pages of handwritten notes in Latin bound-in.

Rare books in our Research Library

The Research Library rare book collections include many titles on natural history dating from the 1500s through the 19th Century. Almost all of these books were donated to the Library, many of them by Laurence M. Klauber, who generously gave his complete herpetological and natural history library to the Museum in 1968. Others who have made significant donations of rare books include Joshua Baily, Ruth Ingersoll Baily, Jim Clements, Thomas Frey, U. S. Grant IV, Alice W. Heyneman, Kenneth Hill, H. N. Lowe, Reid Moran, Ellen Browning Scripps, Joseph W. Sefton, and Anthony Wayne Vogdes, among many others.

Above: Rösel von Rosenhof's Historia naturalis Ranarum nostratium (detail of frontispiece). Published in installments from 1753-1758.  (from the Klauber Herpetological Library)

The oldest book in the rare book collections, Aristotle's De Natura Animalium , was published in 1513. Among other notable volumes are a double elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of America, (see video) a two-volume set of William Curtis' Flora Londinensis, many early conchological and geological treatises, Charlevoix's Journal of a Voyage to North-America, Scammon's Marine Mammals of the North-western Coast of North AmericaHistoria Naturalis Ranarum, and Plantarum Succulentarum Historia. You may search in our online catalog to determine if a particular volume is held.

Rare Book Conservation

Caring for our rare volumes is an on-going project of the Research Library. Here conservator Melissa Behar performs delicate preservation work on the double elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of America (1851).

Pages from our Rare Book Collection

Erythrina pulcherrima (Erythrina crista-galli), Fabaceae. Curtis's Botanical Magazine (1914), London., vol. 140 [ser. 4, vol. 10]. M.S. del., J.N.Fitch lith.

Moho nobilis . The Avifauna of Laysan and the Neighbouring Islands, by The Hon. Walter Rothschild. London: 1893. Illustrated with coloured and black plates by Messrs. Keulemans and Frohawk, and collotype photographs.