The Bible Collection, which originated with the purchase by Mrs Rylands of the Spencer Collection in 1892, is of major importance for biblical scholarship, bibliography and the history of printing.
It includes Bibles in more than 400 different languages and dialects, published over almost five centuries. The earliest editions are the 42-line or Gutenberg Bible, printed at Mainz in c.1455, and the even rarer 36-line Bible printed at Bamberg in 1458-60.
Nearly 100 editions of the Latin Vulgate printed before 1500 are available, together with first editions in virtually every language, the four great Polyglots of the 16th and 17th centuries, including the Complutensian sponsored by Cardinal Ximenes, six editions of the Erasmian New Testament, and a complete conspectus of the history of the English text from Tyndale to the present day.
Mrs Ernest Hartland of Chepstow donated in the 1930s 2,000 Bibles and 1,500 miscellaneous volumes, including 32 incunabula, in memory of her late husband who had, in his turn, absorbed the library of Walter A. Copinger, Professor of Law at Owens College from 1892 until his death in 1910.
- Recorded in .
- Richard Lovett, The English Bible in the John Rylands Library (Manchester, 1899).
- John Rylands Library, Catalogue of an exhibition illustrating the history of the transmission of the Bible (Manchester, 1935).
- For the Hartland collection see note in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 20 (1935), pp. 176-8.