Professor Richard Copley Christie bequeathed his collection to the University of Manchester in 1901.
Christie formed his collection "with a view of illustrating and enabling its owner to study the Renaissance, and especially the classical Renaissance of Italy and France,… and the lives, labours and works of a certain limited number of scholars upon whose lives and labours I had at one time hoped to write something. Etienne Dolet, Aldus, Pomponatius, Clenardus, Giulio Camillo, Ramus, Sturm, Postel, J.C. Scaliger, Paul Scaliger, Giordano Bruno, Vanini, Scioppius, Hortensio Lando are some of these."
The Christie Collection includes an unrivalled set of virtually all the Greek texts published in the 15th and 16th centuries, together with a very substantial collection of Aldines. Christie acquired over 50 counterfeit Aldines printed at Lyon between 1502 and 1527, some of which are rarer than genuine editions.
While the collection is not remarkable for its holdings of major Italian authors such as Ariosto, Boccaccio and Dante, it does contain a very representative collection of Italian printers up to 1550 with nearly 190 houses being included.
As an indication of the quality of 16th-century French printing to be found in the collection, there are 55 works produced by the Parisian press of Simon de Colines and 40 works printed by his successor, Robert Estienne, 44 books issued by Étienne Dolet of Lyon, and no less than 550 titles from the atelier of Sebastian Gryphius in Lyon.
Christie specialized in collecting editions of the work of authors about whom he hoped to write at a future date including Pietro Pomponazzi (eighteen items), Giulio Camillo (nineteen items), Giordano Bruno (45 items), Ortensio Lando (73 items), Étienne Dolet (113 items, including seven unique titles), Guillaume Postel (72 items), and Kaspar Schoppe (216 items).
Christie believed that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for others to match, let alone surpass, such comprehensive collections.
Another indication of the strength of the Christie Collection is that it includes over 800 editions of Horace.
Among the many fine bindings in the Christie Collection are examples of the work of Francis Bedford, Roger de Coverly, Christian Kalthoeber, Charles Lewis, Roger Payne, Robert Rivière and Joseph Zaehnsdorf in England; and of Bauzonnet, Chambolle-Duru, Derome, Duseuil, Padeloup, Simier and Trautz in France.
- Recorded in general printed-book catalogue.
- Charles W.E. Leigh, Catalogue of the Christie Collection bequeathed to the Library of the University of Manchester (Manchester, 1915).