Collecting Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Twentieth-Century Great Britain and North America

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  • 1 University of Western Australia, Perth; University of Oxford toby.burrows@oerc.ox.ac.uk
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Abstract

Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts were a significant commodity in the antiquarian sales market throughout the twentieth century, sought out by very wealthy collectors and small-scale buyers. The history of this manuscript market has not been analyzed systematically. This article is a first attempt to identify themes and trends across the century, beginning with the dominance of the great American Gilded Age collectors like Henry Huntington and the Morgans and their need to memorialize themselves. It argues that future research needs to assemble comprehensive data on prices and buyers in order to make possible more systematic analyses of trends and activities, and a more sophisticated understanding of the different reasons for which collectors collected and of the changing nature of manuscripts as objects with their own biographical trajectories and their own agency.

Contributor Notes

TOBY BURROWS is a Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Humanities, University of Western Australia, Perth, and a Senior Researcher in the Oxford e-Research Centre at the University of Oxford. He was formerly the Manager of the Research Publications and Data Services unit in the University of Western Australia Library. His main research interests are digital humanities, medieval manuscript studies, and the history of cultural heritage collections and collecting. He has been an invited participant in workshops funded by the European Science Foundation and COST, and has held visiting fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Churchill College Cambridge, and University College London. He has been a chief investigator on a range of Australian Research Council projects under its Discovery, Linkage, Linkage Infrastructure and Research Networks schemes. Between 2014 and 2016, he was a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow in the Department of Digital Humanities at King's College London. Email: toby.burrows@oerc.ox.ac.uk

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