Mapping Asia homepage Mapping Asia splash logo
Project background Search collections Search newspapers Language skills External links Contributors login
Back to results pageQuick collection searchBrowse collection recordsAdvanced collection search

Rare Books Collection

Collection Details

Rare Books Collection held at University of Cambridge Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The rare books collection consists of volumes printed before 1850 which came to the Library as part of the early collections. The collection contains volumes printed in England and continental Europe as well as many printed in the Middle East, India and the Far East. In many cases these were collected by oriental scholars connected with the Faculty or with Cambridge. Many volumes are dictionaries, grammars, Bibles, descriptive works and books of travel and exploration.

History and development

Some of the volumes in the rare books collection are from the founding collections of the library while others have come with later bequests at various dates throughout the library's history. The Library does not purchase volumes to add to this collection but books are sometimes added from new bequests which contain valuable items.


Early dictionaries and grammars, books of travel and exploration. Books on Arabic and Persian studies.

General arrangement and access regulations

The rare books collection is shelved separately from the main library collection but volumes can be consulted on request. The books are arranged in groups by region and by language. Individual bequests are not shelved separately but identified by bookplates or other identifying marks.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Central Asia and the Caucasus, East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia.


China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mongolia, Turkey.

Languages of material

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Sanskrit, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928).


Anthropology, Archaeology, Arts, Geography, History, Language, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Travel.

Languages as linguistic focus

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, Sanskrit, Turkish, Ottoman (1500-1928).

Names relevant to the collection:

  • William Martin Leake (1777-1860) E.J. Rapson (1861-1937) A.A. Bevan (1859-1923) Cecil Bendall (1856-1906) E.G. Browne (1862-1926) Herbert Thompson (1859-1944) Alan Gardiner (1879-1963)

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types


Total size of collection

750 volumes

Size of collection - vernacular


Size of collection - western


Collection Management Information

The collection is not being actively developed.

Content date range

1600 to 1850 AD

Interlibrary loan procedure

Collection Catalogue Information


Included in the Departmental and College Libraries catalogue which is part of the Cambridge University Library on-line catalogue

Catalogue scripts

Not availabel yet

Links to other collections

Back to results pageQuick collection searchBrowse collection recordsAdvanced collection search