Rare Books

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 A. W. Vogdes, among many others.

Above: Reddish Egret (Ardea rufescens), from the Audubon Double Elephant Folio.

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.

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.