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University of Wales, Lampeter - The Founders' Library

Address. The Library, University of Wales, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales SA48 7ED
Telephone. (01570) 42 23 51 (University switchboard); extension 305 (secretary to the Librarian)
Fax. (01570) 42 38 75
e-mail. [marx@lampeter.ac.uk]
Internet. http://www.lamp.ac.uk/founders_library/

Governing body or responsible institution. University of Wales, Lampeter
Function. University library, rare books collection.
Subjects. The Founders' Library is a closed collection.

Access. The library is open to bona fide scholars, including research students, by arrangement, on written application. Readers who have not been admitted previously are asked to present a letter of introduction from a person or institution of recognized standing. - Opening hours: Monday to Friday 2 p.m. - 4.30 p.m. during term and vacation periods. Arrangements can be made for admission at other times, and it is possible to have materials moved to the main library in order that they may be consulted for longer periods of time. Application for these special arrangements needs to be made to the Curator.
Special facilities. On application to the Curator, arrangements can be made to have materials photocopied and photographed; these services are charged at cost.
Travel directions. The Founders' Library is situated in the Saint David's Building, University of Wales, Lampeter. - Coach services from Aberystwyth and Carmarthen railway stations to Lampeter. - M4 (Cardiff-Swansea), exit 49, A48 to Carmarthen, A485 to Lampeter.


1.1 University of Wales, Lampeter, was founded in 1822 as St. David's College by Bishop Thomas Burgess (1756-1837), Bishop of St. David's. It became a constituent institution of the University of Wales in 1971, and so became St. David's University College. It was renamed University of Wales, Lampeter, in 1994. The Founders' Library is housed in the original 19th-century rooms designed for it. Historically, the collection was referred to as the ``Old Library', and received its official designation, ``The Founders' Library' in 1994. University of Wales, Lampeter - The Founders' Library 1.1

1.2 The library is made up of three main benefactions. Bishop Burgess left to the College his personal library of some 8,000 vols. The second major benefaction was by Dr Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), the editor of the Family Shakespeare (1818). The Founders' Library holds approximately 11,395 tracts, bound in 828 made-up vols, and the Bowdler collection, which had been built up over three previous generations of the family, accounts for the majority of this material. Thomas Bowdler II (1661-1738), who accumulated the largest number of tracts, had been a clerk in the Navy Office and a friend of Samuel Pepys, whose own more wellknown collection of tracts is housed in Magdalene College, Cambridge. Dr Bowdler (d. 1825) was a resident of Swansea, then in the diocese of St. David's, and in 1824 had addressed the Royal Society of Literature which Burgess had founded and over which he presided; there is every likelihood that Bishop Burgess had persuaded Bowdler to leave his collection of tracts to the recently founded St. David's College.

1.3 The largest gift to the Founders' Library was by Thomas Phillips (1760-1851). He was born in London but grew up partly in Wales. He became a surgeon with the East India Company, and amassed a large fortune from his trading activities while he was in India. After his retirement to London, Phillips decided to use a portion of his wealth to assist education in Wales, and between 1834 until shortly before his death he sent to St. David's College consignments of books amounting to approximately 22,500 vols. These were not from a personal library, but were purchased by Phillips at auctions and through agents. As far as can be determined, Phillips had no buying policy; the purchases seem to reflect what was available on the open market at the time. The way in which it was assembled means that, in addition to the value and interest of the individual volumes, the Phillips donation as a whole provides an interesting insight into the bibliographical world of Britain in the second quarter of the 19th century.


2.1 The Founders' Library collection consists of approximately 24,000 vols, all of which date from before 1850; there are 8 medieval MSS (all Latin), 67 incunabula, approximately 550 STC (1475-1640) items, 4,600 Wing (1641-1700) items, and 12,500 ESTC items. For the 16th and 17th centuries, there are approximately 1,800 vols which were printed on the Continent and which are of interest here.

2.2 It must be emphasized that the Founders' Library collection is an eclectic one and reflects general trends in book production, literature, and scholarship from the 15th century to the first half of the 19th century. Therefore, although the library is in no sense a specialist subject library, it inevitably has strengths in theology, Biblical studies, classical studies, travel writing, and natural science. Throughout the collection, there are examples of book production and of the main techniques of book illustration from most parts of Europe. The languages represented are Biblical and classical languages as well as most west European languages, specifically, English, French, Italian, German and Welsh. Examples of book production from Germany and German-speaking countries are most numerous in the earlier periods (as much as 20 per cent for the 16th and 17th centuries, c. 1,000 items). German-language items form a much smaller proportion, no more than two per cent, for the earlier periods. For the 18th century, for which the library holds the largest number of books, the proportion of volumes produced in Germany and in German-speaking countries, as well as German language items, is small, approximately two per cent of the total (c. 500).

2.3 Of the medieval manuscripts, the most notable is from Burgess's library, a Vulgate Bible, copied in Normandy and completed in 1279. Most of the incunabula came to the library through Phillips's gifts, and they are mainly from German and Italian presses. At least 13 incunabula were printed in presses of German-speaking countries: Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae (1476), Duns Scotus's Quodlibetum (1481), and Rainerius de Pisis's Pantheologia (1477), all printed in Nuremberg by Anton Koberger; Pope Sixtus IV, De sanguine Christi; De potentia Dei (Nuremberg: Friedrich Creussner 1473); Missale Vratislaviense (Mainz: Peter Schoeffer 1499); various works by Johannes Gerson published in Cologne by Ulrich Zell (1470) and in Strasbourg by Martinus Flach (1494); Robert Holcot, Super sapientiam Salomonis (Cologne: Conrad Winters c. 1479); Werner Rolewinck, Questiones duodecim notabiles pro presbyteris et studentibus ac aliis sacre doctrine insudantibus (Cologne: Arnold Ther Hoernen c. 1472); Jerome, De viris illustribus (Augsburg: Günther Zainer 1473); Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum (Geneva: Odo of Meung ?, c. 1498); Johannes Nider, Preceptorium divinae legis (Basel: Johann Amerbach 1481); and Robert Holcot, Super librum Sapientiae (Basel: Johann Amerbach and Johann Petri 1489).

2.4 From the 16th century there are editions of Terence's comedies (Strasbourg: Grüninger 1503), illustrated with multiple woodcuts, and Ulrich Tengler, Der Neü Layenspiegel (Strasbourg: Knobloch 1527), a translation into German of Roman Law and containing large woodcuts representing pleas, judgements and punishments. One of the most fascinating volumes in the library is the German-language Fischbuch of Conrad Gesner (Zürich: Froschauer 1575), with hand-coloured woodcuts; this is the fourth part of Gesner's treatise Historiae animalium. There is also a German-language herbal by Leonhard Rauwolff printed by Georg Willers (Lauingen 1583) bound in a manuscript vellum sheet. A number of the library's most important 16th-century volumes were produced in Basel, e.g.: Hugh of St. Cher's commentaries on the Bible in 6 vols (Johann Amerbach 1504), in its original clasp bindings; the Glossa Ordinaria and commentaries of Nicolaus de Lyra, 7 vols in 6 (Johann Petri and Johann Froben 1508); Thomas More's Utopia (Johann Froben 1518), with woodcuts by Holbein; Erasmus's Latin and Greek New Testament (Johann Froben 1522); and Petrus de Crescentiis, De omnibus agriculturae partibus (Henricus Petri 1548). A notable early 17th-century printing is Henricus Oraeus, Viridarium hieroglyphico-morale (Frankfurt: Jacobus de Zetter 1619).

2.5 The Lampeter Tract Collection, which includes items in addition to those which came to the Founders' Library as a result of Thomas Bowdler's donation, is mainly an English-language and London-centred collection, and it shows the most concentration in the period 1640 to 1730. The proportion of items printed abroad is small; for example, for the 16th and 17th centuries there are roughly 3,600 pamphlets, and of these only 101 were not printed in Britain. The number of pamphlets in the Lampeter Tract Collection produced in Germany, in German-speaking countries, and in the German language amounts to less than one per cent.


3.1 Modern catalogues

General catalogues:

Card catalogue

[A modern card catalogue covering 80 per cent of the collection is housed in the Founders' Library. Details in this catalogue are incorporated into the University Library's OPAC catalogue. The remainder of the collection, mostly 19th-century materials, has yet to be catalogued.]

Modern special catalogues:

A catalogue of the Tract Collection of Saint David's University College, Lampeter [compiled by B. Ll. James]. London 1975

A checklist of incunabula in the library of Saint David's University College, Lampeter [The Founders' Library], compiled by D. E. Rhodes. Lampeter 1979

Editions Françaises du XVI. siècle conservées dans le fond ancien de la bibliothèque de Saint David's University College, Lampeter (Pays de Galles). Catalogue alphabétique, notices rédigiées par Trevor Peach. Lampeter 1992

The incunables are recorded in the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC).

3.2 Historic Catalogues

A catalogue of books deposited in the library of St David's College, from the opening of the institution to January, 1835 [compiled by Rice Rees]. Llandovery 1836

Manuscript catalogue of the Tract Collection; compiled by Thomas Bowdler II and Thomas Bowdler III, 1717-1783


4.1 Archival sources

Various contemporary accessions registers survive for materials in the Founders' Library and are available for consultation.

4.2 Publications

Rider, R. C.: The library of St. David's College, Lampeter. In: Library Association Record 66 (1964) pp. 255-258

Rider, R. C.: The library of St. David's College. In: Trivium 1 (1966) pp. 36-43 and 2 (1967) p. 152

Harris, L. J.; James, B. Ll.: The library of St. David's University College, Lampeter. Unfamiliar libraries xxi. In: Book Collector 26 (1977) pp. 195-227

Price, D. T. W.: A History of St. David's University College, Lampeter. Vol. 1: to 1898. Cardiff 1977, pp. 175-187

Walters, G.: The Old Library, Saint David's University College, Lampeter. Lampeter 1988 (SDUC Department of English Occasional Publications 3)

The Founders' Library, University of Wales, Lampeter, ed. by C. W. Marx and D. G. Selwyn. Lampeter 1994


Beasts and books. Burden of the beasts, and beasts of the Bible. Exhibition catalogue, ed. by Anne Price-Owen. Lampeter 1993

Biblioteca: The library of Bishop Burgess at St. David's University College Lampeter. Exhibition catalogue [contributions by D. T. W. Price and G. Walters]. Lampeter [1985]

The epic and illustration. Exhibition catalogue, ed. by A. Blamires. Lampeter 1984

Harris, L. J.; James, B. Ll.: The Tract Collection of St David's University College, Lampeter. In: Trivium 9 (1974) pp. 100-109

Howells, W. H.: The library of Edward Richard, Ystradmeurig. In: Ceredigion 9 (1982) pp. 227-244

Humour and illustration from the SDUC Old Library. Exhibition catalogue, ed. by Margaret Sharrow. Lampeter 1990

James, B. Ll.: Maps and atlases in the Old Library at St David's University College, Lampeter. In: Society of University Cartographers Bulletin 10 (1976) pp. 15-24

Marx, William (ed.): The Founders' Library, University of Wales, Lampeter: Bibliographical and contextual studies. Trivium 29 and 30 (1997)

Romantic, picturesque, exotic. A selection from exhibitions of materials in the Founders' Library, ed. by R. C. Rider [forthcoming]

Scholderer, V.: A rare Lübeck Missal. In: British Museum Quarterly 32 (1967/8) pp. 1-2

Travellers and texts. Exhibition catalogue, ed. by A. J. Brothers. Lampeter 1998

Walters, G.: The Old (Antiquarian) Library at Lampeter and the illustrated Book. In: W. Marx, P. Miles and G. Williams (eds.): The word and the visual imagination. A decade in the Lampeter MA in literature and the visual arts. Lampeter 1989, pp. 46-49

Walters, G. [with H. Palmer]: Bibliographica: serial notes on the book arts and history of printing represented by notable volumes in the Old (Antiquarian) Library at Saint David's University College, Lampeter, I-III. In: Trivium 22 (1987) pp. 69-81; ibid. 23 (1988) pp. 107-113; ibid. 24 (1989) pp. 133-143

Water, water: Water in mind, and sea of faith. Exhibition catalogue, ed. by Anne Price-Owen. Lampeter 1995

See also: A directory of rare book and special collections ... 2nd ed. London 1997, pp. 684-685

April 1998

William Marx

Quelle: Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Digitalisiert von Günter Kükenshöner.
Hrsg. von Bernhard Fabian. Hildesheim: Olms Neue Medien 2003.