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Colbeck Collection
University of British Columbia, Special Collections and University Archives Division

English literature; Irish literature; Printing--Specimens

The collection was established in 1935. It was donated to the university in 1967 by Norman Colbeck, a former bookseller and book collector in Bournemouth, England.

The collection includes English and Anglo-Irish poetry, belles-lettres, and non-fiction of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The collection is strong in minor writers of the period and Anglo-Irish writers. Unique items include many rare first editions, special editions, limited editions, association items, dedications, items of significance in the history of printing (by Lee, Priory, Pickering, Kelmscott, and Cuala), publications of book collectors' clubs (Sette of Odd Volumes), and little magazines. At present, fine press editions, special editions, and facsimilies of the authors represented are collected. Present-day trade editions are not collected. Attempts are made to fill gaps in the collection. Excluded from present acquisitions are items which do not relate to the authors already represented in the collection and new authors.


25,000 items (includes monographs and serials); a few runs of complete, or nearly complete, nineteenth and twentieth century literary journals; 230-250 linear cm of manuscripts.

Bibliographic Access
The collection is catalogued in the main card catalogue, and revisions appear in the on-line catalogue. A separate catalogue, compiled by Norman Colbeck, has recently been published. It is a printed, multi-volume catalogue (see below). LC subject headings and classification are used. The holdings are recorded in the National Library Union Catalogue and the National Union Catalog (NUC).

Physical Access
The collection is in Rare Books and Special Collections which is open to the public. For further information visit:

Interlibrary Loan: No.

Reprography: Photocopying is done by the staff.

Reference Assistance: Yes.

Publications Describing Collection
University of British Columbia. Library. Special Collections Division. -- A bookman's catalogue : the Norman Colbeck Collection of nineteenth century and Edwardian poetry and belles lettres in the special collections of the University of British Columbia. -- Compiled with a preface by Norman Colbeck ; edited by Tirthankar Bose with an introduction by William E. Fredeman. - Vancouver : University of British Columbia Press, 1987.