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Aldine Collection

Date range: 1495 -1598

Medium: Printed

Number of items: 2,000 items.

The Aldine Press was established in 1494 by Aldus Manutius. This is the Latinised name of Teobaldo Manucci, who was an Italian humanist and printer born in 1449 near Rome. After studying Latin and Greek in Rome, Manutius eventually moved to Venice during the 1490s to start his publishing business, funded by his former students – Alberto and Lionello Pio, princes of Carpi – and leading members of the Venetian aristocracy.

Manutius’s first publication was a complete critical edition of Aristotle’s works in the original Greek. Published in five folio volumes, it took eight years to finish. His publishing legacy includes scholarly editions of classical authors, the introduction of italic type, and the development of books in small formats that were read much like modern paperbacks. Manutius died in 1515, but his firm was continued after his death by his son and grandson until 1598.

The Library holds one of the largest collections of Aldine editions in the world. The core of this collection comes from George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834), and was acquired by Enriqueta Rylands in 1892 through her purchase of the Spencer collection. His Aldine collection was housed separately at Spencer House in London, along with his outstanding collection of incunabula.

More books were added when the John Rylands Library merged with the University of Manchester Library in 1972. Professor Richard Copley Christie had presented his collection to the University in 1901. It 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 also acquired over 50 counterfeit Aldines printed at Lyon between 1502 and 1527, some of which are rarer than genuine editions.

The collection also includes a substantial number of copies printed on parchment and richly decorated.

See also:

Further information:

  • Recorded in Library Search.
  • The collection is also recorded in a marked-up copy of The Aldine Press: Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Books by or Relating to the Press in the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles, Incorporating Works Recorded Elsewhere(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), available via Special Collections reading rooms.


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