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Rylands Printed Collections

Date range: 15th-20th centuries

Medium: Printed

Number of items: c.200,000 items.

When Mrs Rylands purchased the Spencer Collection in 1892, the Library's position as a rare books repository of international importance was firmly established. However Mrs Rylands' commitment to the development of the Library went much further. She began purchasing books for the Library as early as 1889. By 1892 around 8,500 books on theology and early science and medicine had already been purchased. Although Mrs Rylands employed an agent for book purchasing and also benefited from the advice of a small group of advisors, she maintained a close personal involvement in the stocking of the Library.

In addition to endowing the Library with an annual income for its maintenance and expansion, Mrs Rylands frequently found funds for rare and expensive items which would otherwise have been beyond the Library's means. Often, these personal purchases were kept for a time at Mrs Rylands' home, Longford Hall in Stretford, before eventual transfer to the Library. There were also a number of major collections. These include the manuscript collections from the Earls of Crawford, a major collection of critical works on Dante formed by Count Guiseppe Lando Passerini (1858-1932) and the Hiero Von Holtorp Collection of 15th- and 16th-century specimen leaves, which provide a concise survey of early European printing and engraving.

Following Mrs Rylands' death in 1908, several thousand books were transferred to the Library from Longford Hall. These included many modern editions-deluxe, grangerized or extra-illustrated volumes and publications from various private presses including Kelmscott, Essex House and Dove.

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