The collection comprises ostraca, papyri and texts on paper and parchment.
There are 47 ostraca which were acquired in 1901 from Lord Crawford, as were most of the 478 items on papyrus, paper and parchment described by Crum (see below).
The bulk of the items catalogued by Crum are Sa'idic, dating from the 4th century AD onwards. They include biblical, liturgical and apocryphal texts, legal documents and letters. Among them are the earliest Bohairic New Testament manuscript and a series of private letters older than any previously identified in Coptic.
There are also many hundreds of papyri fragments not catalogued by Crum, most of which are from the Ashmunain collection acquired by the 26th Earl of Crawford.
- Walter E. Crum, Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the Collection of the John Rylands Library (Manchester, 1909). (PDF version)
- Walter E. Crum, Varia Coptica (Aberdeen, 1939).
- Walter E. Crum 'New Coptic Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 5 (1918-20), pp. 497-503. (PDF version)
- Walter C. Till, 'Coptic Biblical Fragments in the John Rylands Library', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 34 (1951-2), pp. 432-58. (PDF version)
- Maria Cramer, 'Some Unpublished Coptic Liturgical Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 50 (1967-8), pp. 308-16. (PDF version)