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University of Waterloo. Special Collections & Archives Book Collection Book Arts
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Sol Eisen Collection of Canadiana, Americana, Mexicana and Incunabula.

The Sol Eisen Collection of Canadiana is a collection of 179 rare, and in some cases, previously unrecorded, books, pamphlets, and printed ephemera from Quebec, Ontario, and Western Canada. The collection was presented to the University of Waterloo Library by Morton Eisen of Toronto in 1993. Sol Eisen (1898-1974), a Toronto lawyer, first began his "collecting hobby" with baseball cards in 1911. The focus of his collection eventually turned to rare books, and the variety and quality of the material he acquired are testimony to the diligence and enthusiasm with which he pursued his hobby.

Highlights of the Sol Eisen Collection of Canadiana include its earliest imprint, Nehiro-Iriniui Aiamihe Massinahigan (1767), a book of prayers and catechism for the Montagnais Indians by the Jesuit missionary, Jean Baptiste de La Brosse. This is one of the few books ever to be printed in the Montagnais dialect. Also important among the early imprints is, Traite de la loi des fiefs (1775), a compilation of four publications by Francois Cugnet which sets forth the basic principles of the civil law of the French Regime (still in force in the Province of Quebec).

Several imprints are of great rarity. Included in this category are a children's book printed in Brockville in 1826 entitled, First Book for Children; an 1839 edition of Wilson's Border Tales; and two previously unknown almanacs, The Upper Canada Almanac and Provincial Calendar for the Year of Our Lord 1831, and The Toronto Farmers' and Mechanicks' Almanack for the Year of Our Lord 1838. Other items not noted in the standard bibliographies include an 1879 broadside printed in Winnipeg entitled, A Grand Display of Manitoba Products ... Selected for the Ottawa Exhibition. Only one other copy is known to exist of Swift's York County Almanac for the Year 1832, which is also of interest by virtue of its printer, William Lyon MacKenzie.

Other notable items include two books printed in the Cree language at Moose Factory, one in 1896, and the other in 1859.

Seagram Museum Rare Book Collection

In 1997, the Seagram Company and the Seagram Museum donated the rare book collection and the early archives held by the Seagram Museum Library to the University of Waterloo Library.

The collection of more than 1200 titles covers every aspect of the beverage alcohol industry. Topics include distillation, wine and wine making, brewing, viticulture, bottling and cooperage, taxation and government regulations, temperance and prohibition, the culinary arts, and advertising.

The collection complements the University of Waterloo Library's existing research collections in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the history of technology as well as the decorative arts, temperance, and social history.

The earliest imprint is the 1545 Italian translation of Charles Estienne's Vinetum..., an early work on viticulture. Other notable early works include De Secretis Remediis aut Potius Thesaurus by Konrad Gesner (1554), and Livre du Vigneron et du Fabricant du Cidre ... et Autres Vins de Fruits by Joseph de Mauny de Mornay (1838).

The collection includes many examples of fine bindings and illustrations.

Also present is a small group of books that belonged to the Seagram family.

Seagram Museum

Fine bindings

  • Book Collection
  • 1630-1973

Many of the holdings of Special Collections & Archives represent fine bindings, unique bindings and the works of famous printers and binders. Examples include signed bindings, metal, velvet and papier-mache bindings, and bindings by well-known bookbinders such as Joseph Zaehnsdorf, and Sangorski & Sutcliffe.

Eric Gill Book Collection.

The Eric Gill Collection includes works by and about Eric Gill (1882-1940), works illustrated by or designed by him, and works by and about his pupils and contemporaries. Eric Gill made contributions in numerous fields--as printer, type designer, letter designer, sculptor, engraver, stone cutter, and author.

The collection has been actively developed since the 1970's, and includes many rare, variant editions of Gill's works. The Library's Private Press Collection includes related material within the Hague and Gill Press Collection and the St. Dominic's Press Collection.

Gill, Eric

Private Press Book Collection.

The Private Press book collection includes items from more than 1,000 presses in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. This collection has been developed as a representative collection, with intensive coverage of selected presses, such as Hague & Gill, St. Dominic's Press, Nonesuch Press, and Golden Cockerel Press, to provide scope for in-depth study of the history and development of these particular presses. A sample selection from a wide range of other private presses gives an overview of the private press movement in the twentieth century.

Private Press Collection

Artists books

  • Book Collection
  • 1934-2017

Artists’ books (defined as: books or book-like objects over the final appearance of which an artist has had a high degree of control; where the book is intended as a work of art in itself) can be located using the library catalogue. Authors include Palmer & Calvert, William Morris, and David Jones.

All items in this collection are located in Special Collections & Archives and are non-circulating.

William Blake Collection.

  • Book Collection

The William Blake Collection consists of more than 200 titles of which the majority are facsimiles of Blake's works or privately-printed reprints and editions containing facsimiles of the illustrations. The collection also forms part of a larger collection devoted to joint painter-illustrator-author books that include followers of Blake, e.g. Palmer & Calvert, William Morris, Eric Gill, and David Jones.

One of the highlights of the William Blake Collection is the 1951 Trianon Press edition of William Blake's Jerusalem.

Blake, William

Hogarth Press and Virginia Woolf Book Collection.

  • Book Collection

This collection is made up of 25 first or early editions of the 35 titles by Virginia Woolf as well as 62 titles printed by the Hogarth Press. 47 of the Hogarth Press items date from the 1917-1938 period during which Virginia Woolf was associated with the Press.

Highlights of the collection include a first edition of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, and its sequel, Three Guineas, and first editions of her last two novels.

This is a representative collection that contains one example from each of most of the different series (for example, the Day to Day series, Hogarth Letters, Hogarth Essays), and examples of very early printings of some 20th century writers, such as Robert Graves, Edith Sitwell, and Gertrude Stein.

Hogarth Press