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Rare Books

J D Hooker

“Kinchin-Junga from Mr Hodgson’s Bungalow”, from Hooker, Joseph Dalton, ‘Himalayan journals, or, Notes of a naturalist in Bengal, the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas, the Khasia Mountains, &c’, London: John Murray (1854).

The Geological Society Library’s Rare Book collection traces the development of geology as a science, especially in 19th century Europe, with an emphasis on mineralogy and palaeontology. It comprises approximately 3,500 books mostly published after 1800, but includes important earlier works dating back to the 16th century. The oldest item in the collection is Georg Agricola’s 'De Ortu & Causis Subterraneorum' (1546), a work on the origins of ore deposits, whilst the most important probably is that same author's ‘De Re Metallica’ (1561), a summary of all mining knowledge from the late Middle Ages.

George Bellas Greenough

George Bellas Greenough
A large proportion of the collection came as part of the bequest of one of our founders, George Bellas Greenough (1778-1855), who studied on the continent – hence why around two thirds of the collection is in a European language. Other volumes were presented to the Society on publication by their authors (who were also Fellows), including such geological luminaries as Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, Georges Cuvier, William Buckland, Gideon Mantell and Roderick Impey Murchison.

Information for Researchers

The Rare Book collection is listed in the Library catalogue.  Please contact the Library to arrange an appointment to view items from the collection.

To read about some of the more interesting items from the collection, click on the links below.

Library Catalogue


Search for books, journals and maps using the Library catalogue.

Archive Catalogue

GSL Archives

Search the Geological Society archive collections