Netherlandish soldier. Hand-colored engraving from Jacob De Geyn, Waffenhandlung von den Roren, Musquetien, undt Spiessen (Amsterdam, Robbert de Baudous, 1608)
While Mrs. Brown started to collect books in the 1930's, the collection grew rapidly during the immediate post-war years when many princely libraries and other collections were being dispersed. One example was the Liechtenstein-Hauslab Kostümbibliothek, the greater part of which was purchased in the 1950's. She also acquired many significant books and prints series of Russian army history and uniforms from the private libraries of the Imperial family. Among the latter are many regimental histories luxuriously bound for, and bearing the bookplates of, the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna and the last Empress, Alexandra Feodorovna. Later, during the 1960's and 1970's, auctions of other famous collections and libraries resulted in the acquisition of books and prints illustrating Belgian, French, British, German, and Dutch uniforms and military iconography. Purchases were made from the collections of the Belgian uniform-fancier Charles Delacre, the French collector Emile Grangié, Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick, the Dutch uniform-bibliophile F. C. Koch and the Robert Kleinert library in Switzerland.
In addition to the numerous books detailing uniforms, the collection includes monographs on a wide range of military-related topics. There is a fine section on
early military science, the oldest book being the first edition of De Re Militari Libri by
Robertus Valturius published in Verona in 1472 which includes illustrations of the machinery of war and military scenes. The collection is arranged by country and
within each are sections containing items on the military and army history of the country, army lists, regimental histories, military biography, naval history, humor
and caricature, uniforms, and books on drill, tactics and regulations. Other sections include weaponry, orders, medals and decorations, heraldry, flags, royalty and ceremony. In the American section is a fine pocket almanac, Allgemeines Historisches Taschenbuch...für 1784, published in Berlin, which includes plates providing not only the first accurate representations of the uniforms of the American Continental Army, but one of the earliest depictions of the United States flag. The British section includes the annual army lists from 1755 to 1939, and similar lists can be found throughout the various countries.