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Rare books and special collections: Named collections

The State Library has a significant collection of rare books and manuscripts from all over the world. They have been donated or purchased over many years, often with the assistance of the Friends of the State Library of South Australia.

Named collections

The library has a number of discrete collections. Items from these can be requested via the catalogue and then viewed in the Somerville Reading Room.

Adelaide Circulating Library Collection

A large collection of books which were once part of some of the former Institute libraries

Arbon Le-Maistre Collection

Contains 80,000 photographs, mostly of 20th century ships, includes virtually all of the ships that carried post Second World War migrants to Australia.

Barmera Hotel Collection

19th century fiction that was available for borrowing at the Hotel.

Book Club of California

Limited edition, fine printed books published by the Club.

Cellarmaster Collection

Donated by Cellarmaster Wines in 1989, it is a collection of 900 wine books with strengths in books published before 1800, and in books in languages other than English.

Edwardes Collection

This world renowned collection contains about 8000 photographs, mostly of sailing ships, taken between about 1865 and 1920.

You can locate photographs from the collection via the State Library catalogue by

*Please note that whilst only approximately half of the collection has been digitised, each photograph has a catalogue record. If the record has an associated photograph you will see a 'view image' link. If not, you can Ask Us about your options for gaining access.

FW Preece Collection

More than 40 monographs, periodicals and catalogues of art exhibitions published by the Preece company from 1907 to 1971.

Gouger Collection

Consists of the 34 remaining books of the first library to come to South Australia. Selected by Robert Gouger, the books are of a practical nature and include advice to emigrants to other British colonies.

Griffin Press Collection

From 1960/1961 to 1990 the Griffin Press, a leading Australian printing firm, presented one copy of most of the books it printed to the State Library. It includes both South Australian and non-South Australian works and represents a variety of printing styles and designs.

Hardy Collection

In 1968 the Chairman of Thomas Hardy and Sons presented to the Library the first annual grant for the Thomas Hardy Wine Library. Each year since then the company now known as BRL Hardy Limited and, more recently, the Hardy family, have given a grant for additions to the Thomas Hardy Wine Library. The collection now contains more than 1,900 titles.

Hassell Press Collection

This incomplete collection comprises books and pamphlets printed by this Adelaide printing house which operated from 1885 to 1954.

Libraries Board Collection

From 1917 to 1979, the Libraries Board of South Australia published many facsimile editions of the works of Australian explorers, and other historically significant South Australian and Australian works. The Libraries Board also published original monographs including bibliographies and periodicals, such as Pinpointer and South Australiana.

Purches Collection

A collection of more than 6000 78rpm recordings of mainly American popular music and jazz from the 1920s to the 1950s. A card file can be consulted for all original Purches records

Queen Adelaide Collection

The  volumes in this collection once belonged to Queen Adelaide. They were given to Augustus Short, Adelaide's first Anglican bishop, in 1878, who in turn presented the books to the South Australian Institute, a forerunner of the State Library of South Australia.

Symon Library

Josiah Symon, called to the bar in 1871, was a member of the House of Assembly and a Commonwealth Senator from 1901-1913 where he was Attorney General from 1904-1905. He left his 7,500 volume personal library to the State Library. It is an extremely fine example of a 19th century gentleman's library