Overstone Library

The Overstone Library contains nearly 8,000 printed volumes, mostly in the humanities and social sciences. It is strong in economics, including early pamphlets, also travel, history, literature and classics, and political and religious philosophy. The emphasis is predominantly English and Scottish, and 18th century, with French works coming a strong second. Many seminal writings of the period are present.

Portrait of  John Ramsay McCullochThe foundation collection of the University Library, the core of the Overstone Library was collected by John Ramsay McCulloch (1789-1864), the political economist (pictured right), from at least as early as 1821, when he purchased pamphlets from the library of Rogers Ruding. On McCulloch's death his library was bought by his friend and collaborator Samuel Jones Loyd, Baron Overstone (1796-1883), the banker. He added to it, and it remained at his seat Overstone Park, Northamptonshire, until his daughter, Lady Wantage, bequeathed it to the University College Reading in 1920.

The collection is, in addition, a handsome example of a 19th century private library, displaying a concern for good copies and the best editions, well printed and well bound. It contains good specimens of the Elzevirs, Barbou, Baskerville, Foulis, and Strawberry Hill presses, and 18th and early 19th century English and French bindings. Illustrated books include several Rudolph Ackermann publications and David Roberts' The Holy Land (1842-1849) and Egypt and Nubia (1846-1849).

Also with the library "Illustrations of Northamptonshire" is a unique collection of nearly 1,000 prints, drawings, and watercolours of Northamptonshire interest. The collection also includes a marble bust of Overstone by Count Gleichen, 1884.

Luigi Mayer's Views in Egypt (1801) from the collection was our featured item in June 2006.

More information

  • The collection is fully catalogued and appears on Enterprise
literature, book history, economics & economic history, church history & theology, history, politics printed books (pre-1850), printed books (post-1850) Y overstone

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