Guide To Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library



This catalogue describes 390 medieval and renaissance manuscripts in Latin script in the Huntington Library; in general, documents, fragments, and books in non-Latin script are excluded. Most documentary material has been described in the Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino 1982); three cartularies (BA 29, BA 30, BA 33) are also described in the present catalogue because of their dual nature as document and book. A few fragments are included because of their particular interest (early date, such as HM 41785; significant text, such as HM 47937) or because of their association with a complete manuscript (HM 46015, once loose in HM 19916). EL 9 H 13 is the only boxed collection of fragments in the Huntington (mainly from Venetian ducali), and as part of the Ellesmere Library, it has been included. Excluded are cuttings of decorated letters from liturgical books (usually grouped by letter: a series of M’s, for example), and a few loose leaves (mainly from late antiphonals), all of which came to the Huntington Library as separate gifts. Descriptions of the two Greek manuscripts (HM 1047, prayers to the Virgin; HM 1081, New Testament) are included because their difference in script seemed less significant than their similarity in text to other manuscripts in this catalogue. On the other hand, the Library’s few Syriac and Armenian gospels, Hebrew prayer rolls, Korans, Babylonian clay tablets and Sinhalese olas are not described here. A few Huntington manuscripts listed by De Ricci have been determined to be forgeries or modern fac-similes (HM 217, 218, 1175, 1177); they are described here because their absence might suggest that they are no longer owned by the Library.

Chronologically, the catalogue extends from the earliest material held by the Library (HM 41785, a fragment of the ninth century) through ca. 1600, with the intent of encompassing the period prior to that covered by the Guide to Literary Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino 1979) which describes the works of authors who died after 1600. In actuality, there are a number of manuscripts of later date included in the present catalogue: some constitute a direct continuation of the medieval world (such as HM 48048, a seventeenth century antiphonal); some by the nature of their texts were not included in the literary Guide (as HM 1316, ambassadorial instructions), or by their country of origin were rejected by the Guide to British historical manuscripts (HM 21720, copied in Honduras).

In practice, virtually all codices of continental origin through ca. 1600 are described here. The grey area of material which could arguably have been included lies in the fields of English renaissance literature and law, ca. 1550-1650. The manuscripts of legal interest have been listed by Dr. John H. Baker, English Legal Manuscripts in the United States of America, Part I: Medieval and Renaissance (London 1985) and Part II (forthcoming; to contain post-1558 manuscripts). To provide access to the otherwise omitted literary manuscripts, the following list was kindly supplied by the late Dr. William Ringler:

HM 8 Thomas Buttes, commonplace book, including verse, ca. 1550-85
HM 102 commonplace book, 1580-1628
HM 105 Alexander Montgomerie, Flyting with Polwait, ca. 1585
HM 179 Thomas Legge, Richardus Tertius, ca. 1579
HM 212 Manner of making bishops, 1552
HM 461 includes sixteenth century English verse
HM 500 Anthony Munday, John a Kent and John a Cumber, 1596
HM 31188 Daniel Rogers, Poemata, in Latin, ca. 1590
HM 31191 includes sixteenth century English verse
EL 76 includes sixteenth century English verse

A preliminary survey of the Huntington Library’s approximately 5300 incunabula showed that a considerable number contain manuscript material. The present catalogue includes descriptions of the 17 printed books in which the manuscript material constitutes a complete and separate unit. Manuscript indexes, continuations of and additions to the text of the printed book are excluded, as are manuscript fragments serving as pastedowns or flyleaves in printed books, and hand-produced decoration (miniatures, borders, initials) in printed books. This material has been excluded because of its quantity, not because of its interest.1


Entries are headed with a brief author/title/subject statement and with the place and date of origin of the manuscript. The date is expressed in Latin sigla as used by N. R. Ker, MMBL: s. XII/XIII means the turn of the thirteenth century; s. XIIIin (ineunte) the beginning of the thirteenth century; s. XIII1 the first half of the century; s. XIIImed (medio) the middle of the thirteenth century; s. XIII2 the second half of the thirteenth century; s. XIIIex (exeunte) the end of the thirteenth century. Occasionally the dating has been more precise, e.g., s. XIII2/4 intending the second quarter of the thirteenth century. If the manuscript is dated, that date is given in the heading of the entry. A composite volume may have several dates in the heading. The mention “fig.” followed by a number refers to a photographic reproduction from that manuscript at the end of vol. 2. [The reference to figures is eliminated in the present electronic version.]

Each entry consists of three sections: text, physical description, and provenance. The text section is divided into arabic-numbered articles, usually corresponding to discrete divisions either textual or codicological; at times the article divisions are established by the editors for ease of reference, breaking a text that runs continuously in the manuscript (e.g., in the case of a long series of undifferentiated prayers). For most texts, the span of occupied folios is given: f. 1, f. 1r-v, ff. 2b-3va designate respectively folio 1 recto, folio 1 recto and verso, folios 2 recto column b through 3 verso column a (with columns indicated only if necessary to avoid confusion). For most texts, the opening and closing words are cited. When the complete reference to span of folios and to incipit and explicit would unduly burden the description, only the opening leaf and opening words are noted; specifically, this situation arises in bibles and prayerbooks where the explicit is established or formulaic. In the case of statute books and liturgical books, usually only the identification of the text is given, because their incipits and explicits are too common, and their identifying variants buried too deeply within the text to be readily cited.

Liturgical use of the Hours of the Virgin is established by the rubric in the manuscript, if any (in which case it is quoted), or by the variant antiphons and capitula at prime and at none in the tests set forth by Madan.2 Criteria for designation of liturgical use in the Office of the Dead are the variant responses to the lessons at matins compared against those of early printed liturgical books with stated use.

The language of the manuscript is Latin, unless otherwise shown by incipit and explicit, or unless specified. All abbreviations are expanded silently. Capitalization attempts to follow the use of the manuscript, although thorn (þ) has been uniformly rendered in lower case, even when distinguished hierarchically in the manuscript. Punctuation is supplied sparingly. Titles or headings are designated by italics, whether they are shown in the manuscript by a different colored ink, display script, or distinctive spacing. A double diagonal slash signals a defective beginning or ending of a text, whether due to problem at the copying stage, or to later loss of leaves. Information within square brackets usually refers to the material immediately preceding the brackets; that within angle brackets comments on a word or words in the position occupied by the angle brackets themselves: “Nisi dominus [?]” queries the reading of “dominus”; “Nisi dominus <?>” queries the word or words following “dominus.”

When appropriate, the numbered article of the text is followed by an identifying reference to a printed edition of the text, a critical study of authorship, a list of extant manuscripts, etc. In the case of a series of texts in a single arabic-numbered article (e.g., bibles, prayerbooks), abbreviated bibliographic references are given in square brackets within the body of the text. The bibliography does not pretend to be exhaustive (especially on the more studied manuscripts, such as the Ellesmere Chaucer), and it intentionally omits non-specialized references to the manuscripts, such as the guide for visitors by H. C. Schulz, N. B. Cuthbert and H. Noya, Ten Centuries of Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino 1962).

If the volume is composed of several manuscripts of differing origin now bound together, the separate parts are assigned roman numerals (printed here in bold face), and each part is presented under the same roman numeral in the text section and in the physical description.

The physical description is arranged according to a presumed order of production: material, number of leaves (with flyleaves in small roman numerals), dimensions of height and width of book block and of ruled space in millimeters, quire structure with mention of catchwords or signatures if present, ruling, script, and number of copyists with the folios copied by each. Description of decoration begins with the most elaborate form and proceeds to the simpler work, in order of hierarchy (miniatures, historiated initials, decorated initials, and so forth). Description of the binding completes the physical section.

The provenance section presents what is known of the manuscript’s origin and subsequent history. The entry concludes with the secundo folio reference for manuscripts that may have been in institutional ownership during the middle ages (thus omitted, for example, for books of hours and for manuscripts of relatively late date). The final bibliography refers to the manuscript as a whole, rather than to specific texts, scribes, artists, owners or other single aspects of the manuscript.


The manuscript descriptions are arranged alphabetically by collection, then numerically within that category: BA (Battle Abbey; three manuscripts); EL (Ellesmere; 28 manuscripts), FI (Fields; one manuscript); HM (the bulk of the collection); HU (Hastings; one manuscript); RB (Rare Book; 17 manuscripts bound with incunabula or early printed books; Bond and Faye list these under the abbreviation “P.B.” for “Printed Book”); two HM entries, received while in press, are at the end.

In the Ellesmere collection, various systems of numbers were assigned during the years before the collection was acquired by Henry Huntington (see pp. 5-7), of which two are still in use: one, applied only to the codices and bound printed volumes, uses a number, a letter, and a number; the other, strictly numerical, appears on most single items and volumes in the Ellesmere Library. Because certain manuscripts have become known under one system and others under another, it was decided to adopt, for purposes of coherent ordering, the composite system: a number, a letter, a number (e.g., EL 26 C 9). In the case of a manuscript described elsewhere under a multidigit number (e.g., EL 1122), the description will occur here under the tripart number-letter-number pressmark (i.e. for EL 1122, as EL 34 B 23) with the strictly numerical reference following in parentheses.

The HM prefix is the open-ended system that is applied item by item to manuscripts entering the Huntington Library that are not part of a permanent collection. Early processing of the manuscripts (ca. 1925-27?) grouped them by subject: thus, very roughly, the sequence HM 10-47 encompasses portolan charts, HM 111-149 Middle English texts, HM 1069-1084 bibles, and HM 1099-1200 books of hours. Generally, however, numbers in the series represent accessions (rather than subject, or shelving location such as the Ellesmere tripart system), and may therefore provide a general notion of the date of acquisition of a manuscript. In a few cases, items were formally accessioned after a lapse of time; this occurred for example with the western medieval manuscripts in the George and Alice Millard collection on the history of the book: HM 31052 and HM 47641 entered the Library in 1938-39, but were not accessioned until 1969 and 1981). The numbers in this catalogue are not consecutive, because the HM prefix is employed for manuscripts of all periods, and is not reserved for medieval and renaissance manuscripts.


Of the 392 entries in this catalogue, 305 are of items acquired by Henry Edwards Huntington (1850-1927); they were bought during the 19 years following his retirement from active participation in business. Some of the medieval manuscripts arrived as parts of block purchases of entire libraries: in 1911 Huntington purchased the Elihu Dwight Church (1835-1908) library, which included nine medieval manuscripts; in 1912 he bought privately portions of the library of Beverly Chew (1850-1924) and thus acquired two medieval manuscripts. The Kemble-Devonshire plays (with HM 2, HM 3, and HM 452) entered Henry Huntington’s collection in 1914 through private purchase arranged by the bookdealer G. D. Smith and Sotheby’s. The impressive Bridgewater Library of the Earls of Ellesmere, with its ca. 4,400 printed books and 12,000 manuscripts (including 28 entries in this catalogue), was acquired in 1917 from Sotheby’s through the negotiation of G. D. Smith. In 1918 Smith handled Henry Huntington’s private purchase of a segment of the library of William Keeney Bixby (1857-1931), which brought five medieval manuscripts to the Hunting ton collection (a sixth Bixby manuscript, HM 1077, passed through the ownership of H. V. Jones, before coming to Huntington). The Ross C. Winans collection was acquired in the same year and in the same manner; it included three medieval manuscripts described in this catalogue.

Mr. Huntington also actively sought books at auction. In 1908-09 he acquired almost a quarter of the library of Henry William Poor (1844-1915). In 1911-12 he bought 5,500 lots in the sale by the Anderson Galleries of the remarkable collection of Robert Hoe (1839-1909). The second session brought Mr. Huntington into the sale rooms, an apparently rare occurrence, in which, with G.D. Smith at his side, he bought the Gutenberg bible on vellum (lot 269). Forty-eight medieval manuscripts were among the items purchased during the 40 sessions of the Hoe sales.3

Two dealers stand out as Mr. Huntington’s aids and agents in these 19 years as book collector: George Dietrich Smith (1870-1920) and Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach (1876-1952). Overall Huntington trusted their judgment in types of books and (usually) in prices of books. His letters to them are warm and sometimes gently teasing.

Smith had bid for Huntington as early as 1908 in the H. W. Poor sale; their association ended only in 1920 with Smith’s sudden death. The nature of their collaboration varied across the entire spectrum of possible collector-dealer relationships. At one extreme Huntington was the seller and Smith the intermediary in sales of Huntington duplicates; when matters progressed more slowly than Huntington deemed necessary, he chided Smith: “My dear Sir: On February 26th, 1916, you received from me books to the number of 741. To Jan. 29th, 1918, you have sold 29. At this rate, it will take 49 years to sell the balance. Do you not think this is quite a long time? Yours truly.…”4

More commonly, Huntington was the buyer. At least on one occasion he sat at Smith’s side in the auction room in the Anderson Galleries, presumably giving item by item instructions. However, before the second Coggeshall sale at Anderson’s, Huntington wrote to Smith: “You can purchase the following at prices quoted if you are sure that I do not already have them,”5—a recognition of Smith’s knowledge and, to an extent, control over the contents of Huntington’s collection, while Huntington himself retained financial control. Shortly after the same sale, Huntington commented to Smith, “I had no idea you were going to buy so many Dickens letters, and several things I did not order—they may be all right, though, if you have purchased them.”6 After the 1 July 1918 Huth sale Smith offered to Huntington a number of books that he had purchased on speculation7: two of those are now HM 923 and HM 1159. Smith also took the initiative in suggesting purchases to Huntington, as in a letter written to Huntington shortly before the H. V. Jones sale, “No. 242, The Brut’s Chronicle is very important for your library”8 (now HM 131). Annotated copies of Smith’s catalogues provide evidence that Huntington acquired also from Smith’s stock; this explains Huntington’s later acquisition dates for Hoe manuscripts sold at auction in 1911 and in 1912 (such as HM 50, 60, 115, 160, 1046, 1140). Smith occasionally brought unsolicited books directly to Huntington to tempt him into purchase; such is the situation with a “large illuminated manuscript, bound in crimson plush and in a blue morocco case, which was left with [Huntington] on approval by Mr. Smith.”9 This otherwise unidentified manuscript was in fact returned, perhaps due to uncertainties about Smith’s estate. His death must also have interrupted the firm’s usual mailing practice, as inferred from a terse letter to the Smith estate: “On no account send anything directly to me [Hapgood?] in the nature of books ordered, as he [Huntington] wishes to see all books bought himself.”10

For many of Huntington’s purchases during this period, however, no documentation has survived. In such situations, this catalogue uses the phrase “precise source and date of acquisition unknown,” even though passage through Smith to Huntington remains virtually certain. If De Ricci has stated that a manuscript was bought specifically for Henry Huntington by G. D. Smith (e.g., HM 1032, HM 1040), we have retained De Ricci’s phrase even though we could not verify it.

A. S. W. Rosenbach made his first sale to Huntington in May 1911, with a copy of Blake’s Thel; the first medieval manuscript was sold to Huntington in 1922 (now HM 901), and by 1923 Rosenbach had emerged as a major source of Huntington’s purchases: in that year he negotiated for Huntington with Sotheby’s for some 750 incunabula of the Phillipps collection. His name occurs regularly thereafter, although not with the virtual exclusiveness of G. D. Smith’s name in the pre-1920 days; to a lesser degree, and mainly for acquisitions dating from ca. 1924-26, Sessler, Maggs, Quaritch, Edwards, Dobell, Otto Lange, W. H. Robinson and Vollbehr also sold to Huntington.

Huntington’s personal relations with Rosenbach seem to have been perhaps yet more cordial than those he had shared with Smith. Rosenbach was a not infrequent visitor to the Huntington home in New York, and an equally welcome guest at the Ranch in San Marino, albeit always with the purpose of selling books to the Huntingtons. He had the habit of sending Christmas and birthday gifts to Henry Huntington, usually a curious book or an autograph letter, for which Mr. Huntington wrote cheerful notes of thanks. In a letter dated 9 March 1925, Huntington remarked that by then there was “almost enough material to have a collection of Rosenbach Inscribed Copies.”11

Huntington had, however, matured as a book collector since his early days of working with Smith, and his direction of the bibliographic and financial matters of his collection appears firmer than it had been ten years earlier. In 1921 he addressed to Rosenbach a laconic but potent authorization for the acquisition of the entire amount of the second Britwell Court sale: “Dear Dr. Rosenbach: If you can purchase the portion of the Christie Miller Library to be sold March 10th and 11th, Nos. 1-321, for £50,000 or less, I will take the same. Yours truly…”12; for the successive sale, Huntington’s directions were even shorter: “Following are the bids and numbers authorized for the Christie Miller Sale beginning February 6th 1922.…”13

His position on prices was not always as inflexible as these letters suggest; another letter to Rosenbach in 1921 offers an alternative: “Those [lots] of which I have quoted prices, I presume, will sell for more, but should you buy them, I should like to have first call at 10% commission.”14

Some letters did leave determination of price to Rosenbach’s judgment, and Rosenbach occasionally initiated the proposal of an item to Huntington. For example, early in 1922 he wrote to Huntington: “I have been thinking over the various items on which you gave me bids for the Britwell Sale, and I am sending herewith a list of some very important items of which you make no note, and which, perhaps, you might reconsider. They are all of them important examples of Early English poetry of the best period…I am enclosing another clipping referring to a very important Manuscript of early Mystery Plays…”15 Huntington agreed with Rosenbach’s suggestion on the manuscript, and the Towneley cycle is now HM 1.

Some of the credit for the new sense of direction in Huntington’s purchasing must be due to his two librarians. George Watson Cole (1850-1939) worked for Huntington and then for the Huntington Library from 1915 through 1924; when he began, he had already compiled the impressive five-volume catalogue of the Americana and the two-volume catalogue of the English materials in the collection of E. Dwight Church. His expertise as a bibliographer was continuously invoked in correspondence, sometimes as a favor to the Rosenbach Company on an item for another customer, and sometimes in view of potential purchases by Huntington. Cole, too, seems to have shared Huntington’s pleasant relationship with Rosenbach, as this letter from San Marino to New York suggests: “My dear Doctor Rosenbach, Your letter enclosing list of Incunabula has come to hand. I have had it checked up and in compliance with your request have sent it to Mr. Huntington for his consideration. I am very glad to know that Mr. Huntington seems so well. I understand from newspaper reports that he is intending to sail for Europe the latter part of this month. Can it be that in this way he hopes to avoid his friends the booksellers?…”16

Leslie Edgar Bliss (1889-1977) joined Mr. Huntington’s staff in 1915; he was appointed Librarian in 1926, and remained with the Library until his retirement in 1958. His frequent role was to mediate between Huntington and Rosenbach when sensitive questions of finance arose. At times Huntington’s direction is clearly behind Bliss’s letter, such as when he wrote to Rosenbach: “On a final and complete checking of the items sent to us by you from your purchases in the two 1925 Britwell Court Sales, it is evident that several numbers were sent which we did not ask you to buy. This probably originated in your not sending an itemized bill for your purchases. Mr. Huntington now directs me to ask you for an itemized bill covering these two sales, as well as your other purchases for us while there…The items which we did not order amounted to £2212.0.0 plus a commission of £221.0.0 totalling £2433.0.0 for which sum please send us your check or a credit memorandum against further purchases.”17 Again, in 1925, Bliss writes: “On a careful examination of this copy [a Third Folio Shakespeare] we find that A1 of the text…has been supplied from a copy of the second edition. Mr. Huntington has asked me to write you relative to a return of this copy in exchange for a credit memorandum.”18

Rosenbach also dealt directly with Bliss in matters of finance, as, for example, when he felt that his charge of $50.00 for shipment had been unjustly rejected.19 The amount of money involved seems not to have been the issue. In another situation, with the return of a duplicate book, Bliss explained: “On the bill I have made no mention of it, passing it as O.K., but Mr. Huntington wishes me to return the item to you in the expectation that you can get the auction company to assume responsibility for its improper cataloguing”20; the book in question had cost $9.00. Bliss, indeed, watched finances very carefully: in 1922 he asked Rosenbach, “In the…Sale at Anderson’s…will you kindly bid in for us the following numbers…Also if you can get them cheap and only if you can get them cheap, buy the following…”21 the same phrase occurs in another letter written on the same day regarding a different sale: “Kindly bid in for us the following numbers…Of course when I say bid these in for us I do not mean to enter into any crazy competition with an unlimited bidder, but we do want these items.…”22 The same concern becomes evident in a letter written a year later: “We are interested in the following numbers in the Britwell Sale in addition to those which I asked you to buy in my letter of yesterday, but we most emphatically do not want to pay fancy prices for them. However, should you buy them and then offer them to us at what we consider reasonable figures, it is quite probable that we will take a fair percentage, and, perhaps, all of them.”23 Numerous telegrams to Rosenbach repeat the concern and even the phrasing: “bid…only if reasonable,” “buy…if at all reasonable.”24 While Huntington clearly did not want to pay exaggerated prices for his books, he evidently had some trust in Rosenbach to know what constituted “reasonable”: “Needless to say, you will of course look over all items carefully before bidding, also exercise your best judgment as to getting them for as reasonable a price as possible,” as Bliss wrote in 1924 regarding the Britwell sale of that year.25

Rosenbach knew that Huntington did not want to pay “fancy prices,” and he made specific arrangements to avoid them, as a letter he addressed to Huntington in 1925 shows: “The Britwell Sales are now over and I secured for you nearly every lot at very reasonable prices. I do not think there was a single bid from America as I arranged all that before I left, so there was absolutely no competition from our side of the water.…”26 His “arranging” at various sales must have begun at least by 1923 as extant letters show, and involved collectors such as Herschel V. Jones, William Augustus White, John L. Clawson, Carl Pforzheimer, and Henry Folger.27 It was a two-sided agreement, as Rosenbach from time to time also asked Huntington to refrain from bidding on items of particular interest to others. On at least one occasion, he asked Huntington to return an item already acquired; Huntington’s response was: “Dear Dr. Rosenbach: Regarding the Edwin Booth Letter, I have decided to relinquish my claim on it in favor of The Players Club: I will therefore return the letter to you. Two or three letters from members of the club have come to me, especially one from Francis Wilson. I think they are more entitled to it than I am. Yours truly.…”28

Huntington made efforts to be equally just in his financial dealings with Rosenbach. When a book left with him on approval was mislaid for almost a year, and then ultimately rejected, Bliss explained in detail the reason for the rejection, and added “However, Mr. Huntington considers that all around, considering our loss of it for a time, and our consequent not purchasing it, we have lost you considerable money, and consequently wishes to pay you the interest on the money therein tied up. Will you kindly let us know the amount of this and he will send you a check.” Rosenbach graciously refused the offer.29

Towards the end of Huntington’s life, choice of books and limitations of price seem to have passed to the Library, or, more concretely, to Leslie Bliss. Bliss’s instructions to Rosenbach for the Clawson sale of 24 May 1926 read: “The following are the bids of the Huntington Library…Mr. Huntington asks me to write to you that he considers my bids as here noted too high, consequently please do not go over these limits in any amount whatever.” The resultant tightening of funds provoked Rosenbach into writing directly to Huntington after the sale, in an effort to avoid future restrictions: “I wrote to Mr. Bliss to-day expressing my regret that we were unable to secure for you more books in the Clawson Sale. The limits, according to the instructions received from Mr. Bliss, were not at all flexible, and in my report to him I was only able to obtain in the first sale six out of the nine lots. It was left to my discretion to secure them at reasonable prices. In the second sale I had, as you know, rigid limits, and I was only able to obtain four out of the twenty-eight within the limits…You must realize that much water has passed under the bridge since the Huth Sale of 1912.”30

The admonishment had little effect; Huntington was already ill, and indeed some eight months later wired to Rosenbach: “Suddenly out of market stop trip for Britwell absolutely useless stop hope catches you in time stop no purchases whatever.”31 Within a year of Rosenbach’s unhappy letter about the Clawson sale limits, Huntington had died.

Nor did the letter change Bliss’s mind about prices. Much later, in 1935, in response to a circular letter of advertisement from the Rosenbach Company, Bliss answered: “My previous experience with Dr. R. has given me such a healthy respect for his prices that I know the Huntington Library cannot be interested in purchases from that fine supply at any time in the next ten or fifteen years, unless indeed some good angel should come to our aid.”32


The strengths of the Huntington Library today lie in the fields of English and American history and literature. That this is the program Henry Huntington himself desired is documented in the statement of policy written by George Ellery Hale and signed by Huntington on 14 October 1925. The policy specifies “a marked preference for British and American authors and artists,” the “inclusion of authors of other nationalities…when their works have an important bearing on the history of civilization in Great Britain and America,” and “a marked preference for books, manuscripts and pictures illustrating the intellectual development of the English-speaking peoples.”

The number and quality of medieval English literary manuscripts in the collection bear out the founder’s program: the 57 codices containing Middle English contribute a solid share to today’s knowledge of the literature of that period; some of these are unique copies, some are in the author’s hand, many figure in the stemmata of the texts we read today.

It has not been generally recognized, however, that a wider program holds sway over the formation of the medieval collection. Huntington also directed the Trustees to acquire “books, manuscripts and works of art of greatest rarity and value.”33 A cursory glance at the list of medieval manuscripts Huntington acquired (pp. xliii-lviii) immediately demonstrates a far broader scope than English literature alone. Approximately 70 books of hours (i.e., slightly over 1/5 of his purchases in the medieval field), 30 portolan charts, 13 bibles, and a total of 186 manuscripts of continental origin provide a counterbalance to an excessively narrow view of Huntington’s collecting. Herbert Clarence Schulz (1902-86), who had begun his career in the Manuscripts Department of the Huntington Library in 1924 as an assistant to the curator, related34 that in these last years of Henry Huntington’s life, when Rosenbach would arrive with a valise full of manuscripts, he and Huntington would sit in Huntington’s office and discuss the material; “occassionally” Captain Reginald Berti Haselden (Curator of Manuscripts, 1923-40) was asked for an opinion. The choice was made on “personal preference” and Huntington would choose “anything fine” or “nice.”

It appears that the first medieval-renaissance acquisitions selected by the Library, as opposed to Mr. Huntington’s own purchases, occurred in January and February of 1927 (HM 3027 and HM 1788) several months before Mr. Huntington’s death in May of that year. These items may, of course, have been choices made by Mr. Huntington and handled by his library staff. HM 1788 is a Spanish derrotero; HM 3027, a Legenda aurea, was, at the time of purchase, thought to be of English origin.

In the 60 years since Huntington’s death, however, the Library has focused its attention on the Anglo-American world. Limited availability and resultant increase in cost have restricted further acquisition of Middle English manuscripts; most purchases have been of Latin texts by English authors, or of manuscripts of English origin or ownership. The first clearly post-Huntington medieval manuscript was purchased only in 1935 (HM 15241-15242, then bound together, fragments of a year book and a register of writs). A period of financial difficulty followed and purchasing of medieval manuscripts resumed on a regular basis only in the 1950s; 1959, 1961 and 1965 each saw five medieval manuscripts enter the Library. Approximately 80 entries in this catalogue represent accessions after Henry Huntington’s death.

Eleven of these were received in 1953 as part of the bequest of Mrs. Mary W. T. Dickinson (d. 18 September 1952) who left her personal library to the Huntington, the largest gift from an individual donor. As well as the medieval manuscripts, it included literary manuscripts, prints, incunabula, and over 1400 printed books.


In February and March 1931, according to dates on the manuscript charge-out cards, Seymour De Ricci (1881-1942) visited the Huntington Library, having already compiled a working draft of the Huntington portion of his Census from descriptions in sale catalogues.35 This catalogue owes much of its information on the modern provenance of HM 1 through HM 3027 to him. The Huntington as an institution had its legal birth in an indenture of 30 August 1919, but did not begin to function as a library and keep records until later: the first librarian, George Watson Cole, and his staff labored in rooms in Henry Huntington’s New York home until the present library building was completed in 1920, and the first accession book opens with an entry dated 21 April 1925. Thus De Ricci’s knowledge of the sale rooms provides an invaluable substitute for dearth of records; where he missed a manuscript (e.g., HM 47, HM 100, HM 732), we have almost no information of the manuscript’s history.

The present catalogue, which has a narrower definition of inclusion, does not entirely supplant De Ricci’s Census. Some of the manuscripts omitted here have been described in the literary and historical Guides; descriptions of manuscripts such as signed autograph letters, commonplace books, and an album amicorum are still to be found only in the Census.

The Supplement to De Ricci’s Census, published by Bond and Faye in 1962, did not list acquisitions of the Huntington Library up to that date, but merely added bibliography to two manuscripts already in the Census, and described seven manuscripts bound with incunabula and early printed books that had been purchased in 1923 and 1925.

During 1940-70, while Curator of Manuscripts, Herbert C. Schulz worked on a catalogue of the 57 manuscripts containing Middle English. Never published, its great merit lies in Schulz’s precise identification of the texts and detailed search of the secondary literature; the present catalogue is heavily dependent upon his work.

Professor Ralph Hanna III of the University of California, Riverside also worked extensively on the Middle English material at the Huntington. He published his “Index of Middle English Verse and Huntington Library Collections: a Checklist of Addenda,” in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America in 1980, while this catalogue was being compiled, and he generously allowed access to the typescript of his work on Middle English prose, published shortly after the present catalogue was completed in draft: The Index of Middle English Prose, Handlist I: A Handlist of Manuscripts containing Middle English Prose in the Henry E. Huntington Library (Cambridge 1984).

In 1974 Jean F. Preston (Curator of Manuscripts, 1970-77) initiated a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities to compile printed guides to all sectors of the Huntington’s manuscript collections. To provide an immediate access to the medieval material, she published a handlist of post-De Ricci accessions in volume 21 (1977) of Chronica, the newsletter of the Medieval Association of the Pacific.

The present Guide, the fourth and final part of the series, was prepared under the curatorship of Mary L. Robertson. Various Huntington staff members have contributed to this work: Virginia Rust was responsible for the portolan atlases and for the chart of their contents (see pp. 880-81); Sara S. Hodson adapted Mr. Schulz’s descriptions of the Middle English manuscripts to the present format, wrote draft descriptions of English statute books, and aided in collation of bibles; Ephrem Compte wrote draft descriptions of some of the patristic manuscripts and some of the bibles; Thomas V. Lange reviewed the descriptions of the bindings. Jeanine Fohlen, temporarily on the Huntington staff, also compiled first descriptions of some patristic manuscripts.

1. For a brief bibliographic list of most Huntington incunabula, with no mention of manuscript material, see H. R. Mead, Incunabula in the Huntington Library (San Marino 1937).
2. F. Madan, “The Localization of Manuscripts,” in Essays in History Presented to Reginald Lane Poole, edited by H. W. C. Davis (Oxford 1927) 21-29.
3. At least one manuscript, pt. I lot 2138, a French book of hours, was returned to the Robert Hoe estate, for undisclosed reasons; see HM 49686, letter from Emory S. Turner, President of the Anderson Galleries, to G. D. Smith.
4. Huntington Institutional Archives, General Correspondence, Smith: 29 January 1918 from Huntington.
5. Smith: 19 April 1916 from Huntington.
6. Smith: 25 July 1916 from Huntington.
7. Smith: 25 September 1918 from Huntington. Huntington’s letter continues: “I am very glad to see that you are going to sell your valuable string of horses, and I think that by so doing you will be able to keep in the book business. If you should have succeeded in the horse business, you would have been a wonder, for I think that there is hardly one in a hundred keeping at it who do not go ‘dead broke’ before they turn up their toes. I have lived in Kentucky too long not to have seen the fatal results. Yours truly.…”
8. Smith: 19 November 1918 to Huntington.
9. Smith: 18 December 1920 to Huntington.
10. Smith: 19 October 1920 from Huntington staff. The copy retained in the files is unsigned, but was apparently written by George Hapgood, Mr. Huntington’s secretary.
11. Rosenbach: 9 March 1925 from Huntington.
12. Rosenbach: 24 February 1921 from Huntington.
13. Rosenbach: 24 December 1921 from Huntington.
14. Rosenbach: 3 May 1921 from Huntington.
15. Rosenbach: 9 January 1922 to Huntington; other letters and telegrams pertaining to the Towneley cycle are dated 17 January, 18 January, 30 January, an undated telegram sent immediately after the sale, 13 March, 15 March.
16. Rosenbach: 19 July 1922 from Cole.
17. Rosenbach: 28 July 1925 from Bliss.
18. Rosenbach: 16 September 1925 from Bliss.
19. Rosenbach: 8 October 1925 to Bliss.
20. Rosenbach: 7 February 1923 from Bliss.
21. Rosenbach: 10 November 1922 from Bliss.
22. Rosenbach: 10 November 1922 from Bliss.
23. Rosenbach: 25 January 1923 from Bliss.
24. Rosenbach: 2 January and 17 January 1924 from Huntington staff.
25. Rosenbach: 18 February 1924 from Bliss.
26. Rosenbach: 7 April 1925 to Huntington.
27. Rosenbach: for example, 9 February 1923 to Huntington, 17 February 1923 to Huntington, 23 February 1923 from Huntington, 5 February 1924 to Huntington, 7 July 1925 to Huntington, 6 May 1926 to Huntington, 27 May 1926 to Huntington.
28. Rosenbach: 19 November 1923 from Huntington.
29. Rosenbach: 1 June 1923 from Bliss, 18 February 1924 from Bliss, 23 February 1924 to Bliss.
30. Rosenbach: 14 May 1926 from Bliss, 27 May 1926 to Huntington.
31. Rosenbach: 17 February 1927 from Huntington.
32. Rosenbach: 1 April 1935 from Bliss. Regarding Mr. Huntington’s collecting, see R. O. Schad, “Henry Edwards Huntington: The Founder and the Library,” HLB 1 (1931) 3-32, also printed separately several times in a revised edition; R. O. Dougan, “The Huntington Library,” Bibliophilie 3 (January 1967) 3-11; J. Thorpe, “The Founder and His Library,” HLQ 32 (1969) 291-308, also printed separately in The Founding of the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery (San Marino [1969 and successive reprintings]); J. O. Pomfret, The Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery (San Marino 1969) 3-18.
33. Pomfret, Huntington Library, p. 53.
34. Personal communication from H. C. Schulz, December 1982.
35. Personal communication from H. C. Schulz, August 1985.

Bond and Faye
C. U. Faye and W. H. Bond, Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York 1962)
Bond and Faye
C. U. Faye and W. H. Bond, Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York 1962)
N. R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries (Oxford 1969- )

C. W. Dutschke with the assistance of R. H. Rouse et al., Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino, 1989). Copyright 1989.
Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, San Marino, California.
Electronic version encoded by Sharon K, Goetz, 2003.
All rights to the cataloguing and images in Digital Scriptorium reside with the contributing institutions.