Supporters of Haverford have given the Library rare books from the beginning. The first non-Quaker volume, listed in the accession book as Number 3, is a book by John Selden (1584-1654) entitled Mare Clausum. First published in Latin in 1636, this is an English translation which appeared in 1663. While it is about the law of the sea, which could not be more relevant today, the purpose of the book was to claim the sea for Great Britain. Unfortunately, some philistine had it rebound in standard library binding. All fields of knowledge are included in this collection. For example, there are two copies of the elephant folio printing of Audubon's The Quadrupeds of North America (1845-1848), and other volumes on natural history. Rare scientific works such as the first edition of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) and Albert Einstein's Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie (1916) are found here as well. Literary works include Herman Melville's Moby Dick (1851), the first American edition, and Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers as it first appeared in parts (1836-37). Volumes on the west include Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall's Indian Tribes of North America (1837-1844), a three-volume, illustrated folio set. Books in the social sciences include Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776), three variant imprints of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) and Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), the first London edition.
Rare books are cataloged in Tripod.