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Charles II's Hebrew books

David Goldstein


THE collection of Hebrew books in the British Library (formerly the Library of the British Museum) is acknowledged to be one of the greatest in the world, and I do not have to expand on its importance, or on the wealth and variety of its manuscripts and printed books. I should like here to examine a small, but vital, part of the collection. I refer to the i8o Hebrew books that once belonged to Charles II, and that were given to the Museum by Solomon da Costa Athias in 1759.1 intend to make my way back through a century of history from 1759 to 1659, to analyse the collection and to pursue its fortunes, and even to try to ascertain its origins before it reached the library of Charles II - although this, I am afraid, will be tentative and hypothetical.

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