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The Library Catalogues of Sir Hans Sloane: Their Authors, Organization, and Functions

Amy Blakeway (notes)

Abstract

This article undertakes a detailed examination of the library catalogues of Sir Hans Sloane, whose collections formed the basis of the British Museum and thus of the British Library. These are now held in the British Library: Sloane MS 3972B, Sloane MS 3972C, Sloane MS 3972D and an interleaved copy of the medical bibliography Lindenius Rennovatus. It is argued that Sloane's collecting activities can only be fully understood when considered in the broader context of his professional commitments, domestic life, and desire to achieve social advancement. For example, it is shown that changes to the pattern in which Sloane numbers were assigned in 1712 was dependent upon Sloane's purchase of his manor house in Chelsea, and the relocation of domestic activities to his new 'country' property as part of his agenda for social advancement.

Several of Sloane's hitherto anonymous amanuenses are identified, and it is argued that their role was more significant than previous commentators have appreciated. This article also refines the dating of Sloane's library catalogues, contending that they were commenced in 1692 rather than 1693, and, revises the date when the index to the catalogues was commenced to the early 1710s rather than the early 1690s.

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