Collections at UCT

In addition to the main holdings in the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library, the University of Cape Town is home to various special-interest collections available to Classics staff and students.

The Bernhard Kytzler Collection

The Bernhard Kytzler Collection is housed in the Ritchie Room in the Beattie Building. Use of the collection is open to all staff and postgraduates in Classics or with the permission of the Head of Classics. The key may be obtained from the Classics administrative assistant. No books are to be removed from the Ritchie Room.

The Cast Collection

The cast collection in the Beattie Building is made up of various privately-owned, donated, and deaccessioned works. The collection includes busts of Praxiteles’ Hermes, Leochares’ Alexander, Lemnian Athena, the torso of Eros of Centocelle, and slabs of the Parthenon frieze. Notably, the torso of Eros and the copies of the Parthenon frieze were produced by D. Brucciani & Co at the turn of the century. Items in the collection may be viewed by appointment with the Head of Classics.

Rare and Antiquarian Books Collection (UCT Libraries)

The Rare and Antiquarian Books Collection is part of UCT Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections. The collection was amassed by R F M Immelman (University Librarian from 1940 to 1970) and includes various early-print editions of Classical texts and manuscript facsimiles. Among the oldest incunabula (early printed books) in the collection is a 1471 edition of Valerius Maximus' Facta et Dicta Memorabilia and a 1498 edition of the works of Horace. Other collections in Rare Books and Special Collections which may be of interest to those working in Classics include the Cape Town Diocesan Library and the Manuscripts and Archives Collection.

Cape Town Collections

There are other collections and holdings in greater Cape Town that are relevant to Classics research. Occasionally, we arrange student field trips to view parts of some of these collections.

Ancient and Classical Cultures Collection (Iziko)

Iziko Museums of Cape Town (an amalgamation of 12 national museums located near the Cape Town city centre) holds a collection of material from Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Near East. The collection includes some notable examples of ancient Greek pottery, in large part donated by Alfred Aaron de Pass, a South African businessman and art benefactor (1861-1952). Most of the collection is listed in the Catalogue of the de Pass Collection (Cape Town: South African Museum, 1934), and the vases are described by John Boardman and Maurice Pope ('Greek Vases in Cape Town', South African Museum Guide no. 6, 1961). 

See the Iziko Ancient and Classical Cultures website

The Grey Collection (National Library of South Africa)

Sir George Grey (governor of the Cape Colony for two periods, from 1854 to 1859 and again from 1860 to 1861) donated his personal library of manuscripts and printed books to the NLSA (then known as the South African Public Library) in Cape Town. There are approximately 5,000 volumes in the collection, including 115 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, and 119 incunabula. The collection contains manuscripts and editiones principes of various works by classical authors such as Cicero, Livy, Horace, Ovid, Plutarch, and Valerius Maximus. Other collections in the NLSA which may be of interest to those working in Classics include the Fairbridge Collection, the Dessinian Collection, and the library's Special Collection.

Search the NLSA Collections via WorldCat Discovery

The Groote Schuur House Museum Collection

Among the books of Cecil John Rhodes’ library, housed within the presidential complex at Groote Schuur, is a unique collection of roughly 200 unexpurgated and unabridged translations of Greek and Latin texts into English. The selection of texts was inspired by the sources of Edward Gibbon’s magisterial Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Rhodes commissioned Hatchards of London to produce the translations, some of which remain the only English renditions of particular Greek and Latin originals (including works by Julius Valerius, Symmachus, Servius, and Zonaras).