Hans Sloane, book collector and cataloguer, 1682-1698
M. A. E. Nickson
IT is well known that the immense library of printed books and manuscripts collected over a period of more than seventy years by Sir Hans Sloane and unsurpassed in his own time as the work of a single collector eventually became the foundation collection of the library of the British Museum and hence of the British Library. Surprisingly enough, however, bibliographers have been very little concerned with the history of this remarkable collection.' A chief reason for this is that soon after its entry into the Museum in 1753 Sloane's library ceased to exist as a separate entity, although the books themselves, with the exception of some dispersed as duplicates, remained in the British Museum and so became part of the British Library. Most were incorporated into the general library without any mark or catalogue annotation to distinguish them as having belonged to Sloane, so that they may now be identified in a random way only by means of inscriptions on the flyleaves and title-pages. Some items have found their way into specialized departments of the British Library (i.e. the Map Library and the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books); others into departments of the British Museum (particularly the Department of Prints and Drawings and the Department of Oriental Antiquities) and of the British Museum (Natural History). One major part of the original library which has remained virtually intact is the collection of manuscripts, most of which are preserved in the Department of Manuscripts as Sloane MSS. i to 4100, though these are not Sloane's own numbers.
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