Library of Birmingham


The Library’s early and fine printing collections contain nearly 13,000 items, of which over 8,200 were printed before 1701. Of these, 128 are incunabula (a book printed before 1501).

Early Printing Collection includes books, incunabula, manuscripts, atlases and maps. The collection includes two local parish libraries on deposit from Kings Norton and Sheldon, originally the libraries of Rev. Thomas Hall (1610-1665) and Rev. Thomas Bray (1656-1730). 


Fine Printing Collection

The Library of Birmingham has a complete collection of Kelmscott Press books printed under the direction of William Morris, including the Press most renowned book Works of Chaucer (1896) which was illustrated by the dramatic wood engravings of Edward Burne-Jones.

The Library also has a comprehensive collection of books printed at the Doves Press (including the Bible, 1903-5), the Ashendene Press, the Golden Cockerel Press (including The Four Gospels with wood engravings by Eric Gill, 1931), The Gregynog Press, Essex House Press and others. Amongst them is a set of the books produced at the Birmingham School of Printing under the supervision of Leonard Jay.

There is an almost complete collection of books and ephemera printed by John Baskerville, including several editions of his Books of Common Prayer and the together with his type specimens and prospectuses. Earlier private presses such as the Strawberry Hill Press of Horace Walpole (1757-89) and the Hafod Press of Thomas Johnes of Aberystwyth (1803-10) are also represented.

The collection also includes works by two Birmingham printers - Bill Pardoe and David Wishart – both of whom died in the early 2000s.

Illustrated Books and Binding

There is an outstanding collection of fine illustrated books, many hand coloured and a small group of early photographic books. The library is privileged to hold J. J. Audubon's "Birds of America" as well as many other beautifully illustrated natural history books. There are examples of book bindings ranging from the 15th Century to the work of contemporary designers , and a small collection of miniature books.


Contact Details

Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2ND