May 19, 2022

Milestones: University of Toronto Libraries Acquires 15th Million Item, the Oldest English-Language Book in Canada

From U. of Toronto:

As people around the world show their appreciation for the printed word on United Nations’ World Book Day, University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is making history with the acquisition of what is thought to be the oldest English-language book in Canada.


Printed in 1481, the book includes three texts – Cicero’s De Amicitia (treatise on friendship), De Senectute (treatise on old age) and Giovane Buonaccorso da Montemagno’s De Nobilitate (treatise on nobility).

The book, referred to as the Caxton Cicero, also marks a special milestone for U of T Libraries: it’s the library system’s 15 millionth item.


Only 13 copies of this book exist in its complete form, says Pearce Carefoote, the interim head of rare books and manuscripts at Fisher Library, and he says it’s a rarity in many ways.


U of T acquired the text from Price’s estate, which was made possible by many donors, led by the B.H. Breslauer Foundation and with the support from the University of Toronto through a matching grant.

Up until this point, the oldest English-language book in the Fisher Library’s collection was its 1507 copy of The Golden Legend, which it acquired in 2016.

Learn More About the Book in the Complete U. of Toronto Acquisition Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.