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Medieval Manuscripts Collection

Acquisition Priorities

Opening page of MS q Med.281, showing an illuminated initialBPL is actively building its collections of early books and manuscripts, including the medieval manuscripts collection. Acquisitions are made through both purchases and gifts.

Though we seek to acquire materials relevant to all areas of the collection, the following criteria represent our current purchasing priorities.

General priorities

  • Renaissance humanism and neo-Latin authors and texts.
  • Vernacular Italian literature.
  • Specimens of Italian hands not yet represented in the collections.

Specific priorities

  • Books of Hours.
  • Dictionaries and grammars, particularly related to Italian language.
  • Manuscripts that preserve material evidence of production, including scribal colophons (particularly those bearing dates), rubrication notes, and price inscriptions. Especially interested in identifiable scribes and illuminators.
  • Manuscripts that preserve material evidence of early/contemporary reading, study, or textual transmission, or general use including ownership inscriptions and marginalia. Price inscriptions -- particularly those that show the cost of binding -- are of great interest to us, as are manuscripts with early/contemporary evidence of women's ownership and reading. Included within this category are distinguished leaves and fragments.


Image: BPL MS q Med.281. De differentiis verborum (On the differences of words), a text that illustrates the different meaning of similar Latin words. Purchased in 2020.

Recent Acquisitions

Click any image in the gallery below to see details. Additional images, as well as higher resolution versions of all images in the gallery are available on request.