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Heath Collection

The collection

The Heath collection includes nearly 450 titles illustrative of British engraving from the 17th to the 19th centuries. In particular they reflect the work of engravers James Heath and Charles Heath. Charles Heath was particularly associated with gift-books and annuals and these are well represented in the collection. As well as their engravings, John Heath also tried to collect books with fine bindings.

Treasures include:

  • First edition Boswell's Life of Johnson 1791
  • Turner's Picturesque Views in England and Wales 1838
  • A collection of the Lady's Magazine which belonged to dress designer Hardy Amies

The collector

The collection was amassed by John Heath, ambassador to Chile 1981-2 during the Falklands conflict. While at Oxford, Heath was given Heath's Book of Beauties published in 1813 which sparked a lifelong journey to collect as many James and Charles Heath engravings as possible.


John Heath died in 2009 and in his will left his collection to the University of York.

Collection access

Most of the material in the collection is catalogued and can be accessed via the Library's online catalogue. Items can be consulted in the Borthwick Search Room and copies can be made subject to copyright.

Related collections

Further information


  • Heath, John, The Heath family engravers 1779-1878 Aldershot, Scolar Press, 1993 3 volumes
  • John Heath's Library, a catalogue of illustrated books and prints engraved by the Heath family 1779-1878, 2nd edition, 2004
  • Article on Heath's book collecting activity