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Selections from Rare Materials

Destination: Florida


The Rare Materials collection contains a significant number of printed materials and ephemera relating to Northeast Florida tourism in the early to mid-twentieth century. Selected items are listed and accessible through the finding aids for the Northeast Florida Regional Ephemera Collection. Hotels, Motels, and Lodgings; Tourism Collection.


The Library is actively and systematically developing a local history collection, with special emphasis on Jacksonville and its immediate geographical vicinity (Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties). The collection contains varied and interesting materials: general histories of the region, early guide books to Florida and Jacksonville, souvenir albums, historical calendars, rare maps and brochures, Jacksonville Historical Society papers, books by an early local printer, H. & W. B. Drew Company (see below), and postcards depicting historic buildings, facilities and scenes. A representative selection of our local materials have been digitized and are available online through the Florida Heritage Collection.

A Celebration of Poetry

Our poetry collection features limited, numbered and signed editions of twentieth century poetry. Two unique smaller collections include the works of American poet Kenneth Rexroth and English poet Roy Fuller. Other preeminent poets represented are Sylvia Plath, E. E. Cummings, Denise Levertov, James Weldon Johnson, Allen Ginsberg, Maya Angelou, William Everson, and Robert Frost.


Special Collections also holds a collection of poetry from small literary presses. Since the 1950s, a significant amount of poetry has been published by presses specializing in fine printing. An example is The Patriotic Suite, by the Irish poet John Montague. This work was published by the highly respected Dolmen Press (1951-1987), a small Irish firm known for its fine printing. Other small presses represented:

  • Turret Press (1965-1975), a small London press which specialized in publishing a limited edition series of booklets of contemporary poets. Our holdings include: Ishmael (Peter Straub); He will be greatly missed, a poem (Alan Bold); Last year, this year now (Jane Deverson); Six more beasts (Edward Lucie-Smith); Points (Anthony Thwaite).
  • Enitharmon Press, one of Britain's leading literary publishers. Founded in 1967, Enitharmon is the name William Blake gave to a character representing spiritual beauty and the inspiration of a poet. The Press specializes in high-quality artists' books and original poems in small-format volumes. Our holdings include: Walking with Trees (Leonard Clark).
  • Arion Press, an American press known for its printing tradition and unique integration of art illustrations with texts. Only two to three limited edition books are designed and produced, mainly by hand, each year. Andrew Hoyem founded the Press in 1974 and is also a poet with five books of published poetry. Our holdings include: Picture / Poems (Andrew Hoyem).
  • Black Sparrow Press / Unicorn Press - two California presses notable for their fine printing of limited editions of the works of twentieth century poets. Black Sparrow operated in Santa Rosa from 1967 to 2002 and was known for publishing avant-garde work. The Unicorn Press, founded in 1966 in Santa Barbara and later relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, publishes contemporary U. S. and foreign poetry. Our holdings include: (Black Sparrow Press): Primitive (George Oppen); The Leaves (Ron Loewinsohn); A Selection of 65 drawings from one drawing book, 1952-1956 (Robert Duncan). Unicorn Press: Japanese Figures (W. S. Merwin); Atlantic Avenue (Robert Hershon); Twenty Poems (John Haines).

The publications of local and Northeast Florida poets are also well represented with the works of B. J. Sessions, Nola Perez, Mary Sue Koeppel, Orville Tyler and the Tyler-Palmer family, Columbus Drew, Laura Gradick, amongst others. Ye Heroes of Ye Epidemic is a rare volume of verse immortalizing the "Heroes" of the Jacksonville Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1888.


H. & W. B. Drew Company


The Library is fortunate to hold the H. & W. B. Drew Company and Drew Family Collection, consisting of printed materials, artifacts and memorabilia relating to the historic Jacksonville, Florida, printing company established by the Drew Family. The founder, Columbus Drew, came to Jacksonville in 1848 and opened the eponymous Columbus Drew Stationery Printing Company in 1855, later renamed the H. and W. B. Drew Company. Business artifacts in the collection include a rare Drew Company stationery box circa 1900, and early printed bills and receipts dating to 1888. Family items include awards, memorabilia, and photographs formerly owned by Horace Rainsford Drew, Jr.

The Rare Materials collection also contains a number of books printed by the Company. The full text of two Drew publications held by the Library, Proof of Faith in Florida and Our Story, are available at the Florida Heritage Collection web site. Horace Rainsford Drew, Jr., a fourth generation Floridian and great grandson of Columbus Drew, is the author of Our Story. He documents the saga of the Drew and Fairbanks families in Florida in the 1920's, 1930's and the World War II era.

Other Drew publications available online via the Florida Heritage Collection: