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Exhibition Features Rare Chinese Books

A new exhibit in the East Asian Reading Room (SML 222) highlights Chinese Rare Books in the Yale Collections.

It features some of the highlights of Chinese works in East Asia Library Special Collections and will be on display though the winter.

In addition, we will display a recent chance discovery, one volume of an edition of the Five Classics that entered the Yale College Library in 1849. While not a “rare” book, this volume is one of a group that were purchased for the Library in 1849, well before what has been considered the beginning of the Chinese Collection at Yale (the 1878 donation of Yung Wing’s personal collection).

Samuel Wells Williams, future Yale professor, was involved in organizing this shipment for Yale during the time he resided in the treaty port of Canton. This find allows us to document a much earlier start for the collecting of East Asian books at Yale and in North America in general and is therefore quite an exciting find!