Apart from those early manuscripts originating from the Graves and Ogden collections the library holds a considerable collection of others dating from the 7th century. The first gift of a medieval manuscript was in 1859 by William Steere of an early 14th century Bible brought from Spain. The first purchases were by subscription initiated by the Professor of German from 1898 to 1931, Robert Priebsch, to develop the study of palaeography in College. These were increased by further purchases to a total of 213 individual manuscripts and fragments (66 dated before 1600) and include some of the most splendid the Library owns: a 7th century uncial manuscript of St. Mark's Gospel, a 13th century lectionary in Gothic minuscule with illuminated miniatures, a 13th century manuscript of Rabanus Maurus' commentary on St. Matthew's Gospel from Pontigny, and a curious 15th century Book of Hours of the scribe Marcus de Vincenza, formerly belonging to Professor L.S.Penrose containing some forged 19th century illuminations. A collection of fragments, mainly from early bindings, are yet to be fully described but are thought to have derived from the medieval university of Bologna and have been found to contain rare examples of early musical notation. A number of manuscripts formerly belonged to the Phillipps collection. Altogether nine languages are represented in the early manuscript collection, incuding Italian, Icelandic, Persian and Dutch.
Handlists and finding aids:
- D.K. Coveney, Descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the Library of University College (London, 1935)
- Kathryn Kendall, Fragments of mediaeval text-books in the Library of University College London (available for consultation in the Manuscripts & Rare Books Reading Room)
- N.Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries: I. London (Oxford, 1969).