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Rare book collection garners DePaul international recognition

DePaul rare book collection
The only known catalogued copy held in an institution of the book "Oratoriae partitiones," which was published in Paris in 1539, is located in the Special Collections and Archives room of DePaul's John T. Richardson Library. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Rare books dating back to the 16th century that feature the writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero and others have earned DePaul's John T. Richardson Library recognition from an international project titled "Preserving the World's Rarest Books." The books are part of DePaul's Special Collections and Archives.

The project, which is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York and is documented by the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, aims to identify and document the locations of rare books that were printed throughout Europe from the invention of the printing press in the mid-1400s to 1650. The Universal Short Title Catalogue is the basis for locating copies in libraries worldwide.

Through this project, DePaul discovered that it had a dozen books for which there are five or less known copies. One book, Oratoriae partitiones, which was printed in 1539 in Paris, is the only known catalogued copy held in an institution. It's printed in Latin and contains writings from Cicero, a Roman orator and prose stylist who died in 43 B.C.

Other rare books in the collection include a Latin book published in 1550 in Paris that is a commentary on St. Paul's letters by a Benedictine Bishop, and another Cicero book published in 1536 in Paris. Both books have only two known copies in libraries. In total, 11 books from the DePaul's Special Collections and Archives and one from DePaul's Rinn Law Library are held by five or fewer libraries worldwide.

"This recognition by St. Andrews is important because ordinarily if people are interested in a specific text, they might not necessarily check the catalog to see what we hold. However, if a scholar has a particular interest in a book that's rare and we have a copy, we now become an option for them to come to us," says Jamie Nelson, head of Special Collections and Archives at the Richardson Library. "If they assumed they might have to go to Europe to look at that publication in person, they'll now potentially come here instead. So it puts us on a different sort of radar for researchers."

Rare Books in DePaul University Collection 

​Book title Publication year​ Number of copies in the world​
Oratoriae partitiones​ ​1539 ​1
In divi Pauli epistolas omneis interpretatio, ad vetustissimorum
exemplarium fidem quam dilligentissime recgonita​
1550​ ​2
​Cata major, seu de senectute commentariis et annotationibus illustrates ​1536 ​2
Officium hebdomade sante, a dominica in ramis palmarum usque
ad mane die Pasche inclusive​
​1534 3​
Erhebliche und wichtige ursachen warumb die altgleubige Catholische
Christen bey dem alten ​waren Christenthumb bis in ihren tod bestendiglich 
​1596 4​
Missale Romanum, ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum.
Pii V pontificis maximi jussu editum​
1578​ 4​
Epigrammaton libri XIIII. Ex fide vetustissimorum exemplarium​ ​1548 ​4
​Orationum volumen III ​1546 ​4
Nuovo leggendario della vita, e fatti di n. s. Giesu Christo, e di tutti i santi, delli quali celebra
la fest, e recita l'officio​ la s. Chiesa Catholica, conforme al Breviario romano riformato
​1588 ​5
​Newe Zeitungen auB Franckreich. Erklaerung und protestation Henrichen von
Montmorancy Herren zu Dampville Marschallen inn Franckreich regenten und 
generaln leutenanten fuer den Koenig in Languedocken von wegen des kriegs so er 
jetziger zeit wider den Koenig in der politischen nammen fuehrt.
​1575 5​
Omnia quae extant, opera​ ​1533 5​
​​Argumentum institutionum imperialium ​1506 ​5