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2002 articles 1992 articles

Some classified catalogues of the Cottonian Library

E. C. Teviotdale


COLIN Tile has recently drawn our attention to the many manuscript catalogues of the Cotton collection copied in the seventeenth century and has initiated a reconsideration of their role in our understanding of the formation and early history of the Cottonian Library. It is my intention here to consider a group of catalogues copied when the library was in the hands of Sir John Cotton (1621-1702), the eldest grandson of the library's founder. This group consists of eight classified lists of the collection, one of which survives only as a fragment. There is a complicated network of similarities among them, which could only be analysed in full if a complete comparative edition were made. This would be an enormous task, and I do not claim to have undertaken it. In the absence of an exhaustive study, however, some observations on the origin, the contents, and the owners of these manuscripts might be of interest.

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