Treasures from the Rare Book Room


Newcastle Libraries’ heritage collection contains more than 440,000 items in various formats, from mayoral portraits and Snowball’s plate glass negatives to the original Menzies' declaration and the Creer and Berkeley archive of subdivision maps. Our most prized treasures are housed in the Rare Book Room and we are featuring images of the most pictorially stunning works here for you to enjoy.

The current featured title from the Rare Book Room is 'Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts' by J. Hiller, published in 1953 by Phaidon Press LTD London. View a selection of pictorial plates here.

Previous titles featured from our Rare Book Room:

'Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales: with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions' by John White Esquire, Surgeon General to the Settlement, published in 1790 by J. Debrett Piccadilly, London. View the title page and a selection of pictorial plates here.

'Australian Orchids' written by Robert D. Fitzgerald with colour lithographs by Arthur James Stopps. The work is in 2 volumes and was published in Sydney by the Government Printer in 1882. A selection of exquisite lithograph plates detailing Fitzgerald's dissections of orchids can be viewed here.

'Golden Wattle: Our National Floral Emblem' by Archibald James Campbell, published by Osboldstone & Co Melbourne in 1921. This quaint volume is a celebration of our national flower with whimsical images and descriptions for each species of wattle. View the title page and a selection of pictorial plates here.

'The art of illuminating as practised in Europe from the earliest times. Illustrated by borders, initial letters, and alphabets' selected and chromolithographed by W. R. Tymms; with an essay and instructions by M. D. Wyatt. This work was published by Day and Son in London in 1860, and showcases the best examples of illuminated manuscripts from the 6th Century through to the 16th Century. We have selected one plate of illumination from each century to show the beauty of the decoration and how this art form evolved over time. View the title page and a selection of pictorial plates here.

You can also listen to our Treasures from the Rare Book Room podcast to hear discussions of other significant and interesting volumes from our heritage collection.