The Dysart Memorial Collection of Rare Books &
The Dysart Memorial Collection of manuscripts,
rare books, and private press editions was given
to the University Libraries at the official opening
of the new building (later named the Elizabeth Dafoe
Library) in 1953.
This important gift was presented in honor
of Mr. Justice Andrew Knox Dysart, the fourth Chancellor
of the University, who had died during the previous
year. Funds for the acquisition of the collection
were provided by the Manitoba Brewers' and Hotelmen's
Selection of the books and manuscripts in this choice
collection was apparently made by Dr. A. H. S. Gillson,
President of the University from 1948 until his
death in 1954. Dr. Gillson was a remarkable man
who bridged two cultures. His academic career was
in the field of mathematical physics, but he was
also a discriminating connoisseur of the visual
arts who served for a time as national chairman
of the Federation of Canadian Artists and as president
of the Canadian Arts Council. The high quality of
the Dysart collection bears witness to the soundness
of Dr. Gillson's judgment with respect to the history
of printing and the art of the book.
The Dysart Collection consists of nine
manuscripts and sixty books, representative
of the best book arts of scribes, printers, and
illustrators over a span of six hundred years. Two-thirds
of the collection, however, dates from the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries. Among the richly illuminated
manuscripts are two antiphonaries, an early psalter,
a handsome fifteenth century "edition"
of Caesar's commentaries, and two official documents
issued by Philip II of Spain.
There are sixteen
incunabula, perhaps the largest concentration
of early printed books in Western Canada. Within
this group are excellent examples of some of the
best work of such famous printers as Peter Schoeffer,
Nicholas Jenson, Aldus Manutius, and Anton Koberger.
The sixteenth century imprints are scarcely less
impressive. The delicate art of the French school
is well represented in the printing of Jean de Tournes,
Simon Vostre, Simon Colines, and Michael Vascosan.
The type designs of Robert Granjon and the
woodcut illustrations of Bernard Salomon, Dürer,
and Pigouchet come together in the Dysart Collection.
Books printed in the last four centuries
constitute only one-third of the collection. Again,
there are examples of the best designs of renowned
printers, from the
Elzevirs to William Morris. There are notable books
from each century, such as Gerard's famous herbal
printed in 1633, an early edition of Gulliver's
Travels (1726), two late-nineteenth-century Kelmscott
Press imprints, and a rare edition of Cocteau drawings
published in 1923.
W. Royce Butler / Professor of Bibliography and
Director of Libraries.]
The Dysart Memorial Collection of Rare Books and
an Exhibition held at the Gallery 1.1.1., University
of Manitoba, April 23-May 11, 1973