Click here to skip to content

2002 articles 1991 articles

Colin Mackenzie: collector extraordinary

David M. Blake


ONE of the most wide ranging collections ever to reach the Library of the East India Company is formed by the manuscripts, translations, plans, and drawings of Colin Mackenzie, an officer of the Madras Engineers and, at the time of his death in 1821, Surveyor-General of India. Mackenzie spent a lifetime forming his collection which is exceptional, not only for its size, but also for the fact that materials from it are to be found in almost every section of the India Office Collections including Oriental Languages, European Manuscripts, Prints and Drawings, and Maps. Including manuscripts in South Indian languages held in the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library in Madras, the collection originally contained materials in English, Dutch, and, according to Mackenzie's own estimate, no fewer than fifteen Oriental languages written in twentyone different characters. Altogether, according to a statement drawn up in August 1822 by the well known orientalist Horace Hayman Wilson who, after Mackenzie's death, volunteered to undertake the cataloguing of the collection, there were 1,568 literary manuscripts, a further 2,070 Mocal tracts', 8,076 inscriptions, and 2,159 translations, plus seventy-nine plans, 2,630 drawings, 6,218 coins, and 146 images and other antiquities. What manner of man was it that amassed this vast collection?

Colin Mackenzie: collector extraordinary (PDF format), 13.9MB

Download the free Adobe Acrobat PDF viewer
Adobe Acrobat solutions for accessibility