A Descriptive Catalogue of the Latin Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library at Manchester, Vol. 1

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Latin Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library at Manchester, Vol. 1

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Excerpt from A Descriptive Catalogue of the Latin Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library at Manchester, Vol. 1: Numbers 1 to 183 Letterpress

The present catalogue with its accompanying volume of facsimile reproductions of nearly two hundred characteristic pages of text, illuminations, and jewelled bindings selected from the manuscripts with which it deals, is the fourth issue in the series of descriptive catalogues or guides to the collection of Oriental and Western manuscripts in the John Rylands Library.

Although the manuscripts here described may not rival in textual importance those which furnished the material for the preceding issues - the Demotic, the Coptic, and the Greek Papyri - they are likely to appeal to a much wider circle of students by reason of the artistic features which so many of them possess in addition to their textual qualities - features which are necessarily absent from the papyri.

Since it is highly probable that there are still many students deeply interested in the various fields of research to which these manuscripts belong, who have but a vague idea of the importance of the collection of which they form part, and which constitutes one of the chief attractions of the Library in which they are preserved, it may not be out of place in this introductory note briefly to indicate something of its range and character.

The nucleus of the collection consisted of a small group of less than a hundred manuscripts contained in the Althorp Library, which was acquired by Mrs. Rylands in 1892 from the late Earl Spencer to form part of the equipment of the present building, at that time in course of erection. These were added to from time to time as opportunities occurred; but the present magnificence and character of the collection was determined by the purchase, in 1901, of the manuscripts of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, consisting of nearly six thousand rolls, tablets, and codices.

From that time forward every effort has been employed to develop and enrich the collection along lines which already have been productive of excellent results in the stimulation of research. As evidence of the success which has attended these efforts it needs only to be stated that at the present time the collection numbers upwards of ten thousand manuscripts, illustrating not only the history of writing and illumination, but also the history of the materials and methods which have been employed from the earliest times for the preservation and transmission of knowledge from one age to another, and at the same time offering to students in many departments of research original sources of great interest and importance.

On the Oriental side, amongst the languages represented are the following: Abyssinian, Armenian, Ethiopic, Sanskrit, Pali, Panjabi, Hindustani, Marathi, Parsi, Pehlevi, Burmese, Canarese, Singhalese, Tamil, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, Javanese, Achinese, Mongolian, Balinese, Thibetan, Mo-so, Batak, Bugi, Kawi, Madurese, Makassar, and Mexican.

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