Overstone Library

Reference: OVERSTONEDate: 1600-1800sExtent: Around 8,000 volumes

A handsome example of a nineteenth century private library which once belonged to Baron Overstone (1796-1883). The collection of nearly 8,000 volumes is searchable via the catalogue.

Image of the Arch of Hadrian in Athens from 'The antiquities of Athens' [OVERSTONE--SHELF LARGE 35H/11]
Image of the Arch of Hadrian in Athens from ‘The antiquities of Athens’ [OVERSTONE–SHELF LARGE 35H/11]

Most of the volumes concern the humanities and social sciences. The collection 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.

The Overstone Library was the foundation collection of the University Library. The core of the collection was collected by John Ramsay McCulloch (1789-1864), the political economist, 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 excellent condition, containing 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).

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Associated Collections