University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections

Rare Books

Alchemy Collection

Images of the Alchemy Collection

The collection of Professor John Read (1884-1963), professor of chemistry at St Andrews from 1923 to 1963. It comprises c. 350 printed items and some mss which are almost entirely devoted to alchemy and older chemistry texts. The printed books are nearly all pre-1851; there is one incunabulum (Goff M-551) and c. 150 pre-1701 items. Especially notable for first and early editions (14) of works by Michael Maier (1568-1662). Includes prints, engravings, woodcuts, emblem books and catalogues.

Finding aids

A sheaf author catalogue and a typed list are available in Special Collections. Some of the collection is catalogued online and conversion of the records is proceeding. Classmarks for books in this collection have the prefix Alc, and all books from this collection currently on the online catalogue can be found here.


Find out how you can get copies of books, manuscripts or photographs held within Special Collections.

Collection development policy

Discover how the Special Collections Division makes decisions on the development of its rare book collections.

Current projects

Read about the exciting collection projects the Rare Books team is currently working on, and those that have recently been completed.