Rare Book Collections / 12 - 19th c.
Saint Vincent enacts a long tradition of Benedictine monasteries in granting a place of honor to the community’s library. At the heart of Saint Vincent’s rare book collections exists a collection of several dozen manuscripts and leaves, hand authored documents, and some 100 incunabula, or books printed prior to 1500. These works offer a valuable glimpse into their respective subjects from both religious and secular sources, as well as medieval manuscript production and early mechanical printing. Saint Vincent counts among its holdings an admirably illuminated 14th century, northern Italian Rule of Saint Benedict; a vellum leaf from 1312 documenting a donation of feudal lands on behalf of Jean III Duke of Brittany; a late 15th century collection of Benedictine authors inscribed by a German hand – believed to be among the earliest systematic bibliographies in the Western world; as well as a first edition printing of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales from 1478. In addition to hand-written and printed materials with European origins, hundreds of Early American Imprints (mid-17th–early 18th centuries) form a significant part of the Library’s Special Collections–representative of various publications created within the first hundred years of the nascent American republic. Saint Vincent has continuously acquired scholarly historic and contemporary works by authors across academic disciplines in support of its members and the surrounding community, now totaling over 300,000 volumes.
Rule of Saint Benedict, Northern Italian, 14th century, 36 unnumbered leaves, Tempera, gold, and ink on vellum with red doeskin over wooden boards, Latin, Saint Vincent Special Collections.
Calendarium, 1477, German, ink on vellum, unbound, Latin, Saint Vincent Special Collections.
Book of Hours, English, ca. 1450, 86 unnumbered leaves, tempera, ink, and gold on parchment with calfskin binding over wooden boards, Latin, Saint Vincent Special Collections.
Additional selections from Saint Vincent's Special Collections are in the process of being digitized. This site will be updated with more images as they become available.