London: Printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum, 1895 (Vol. 1); 1896 (Vol. 2). First edition. Hardcover. Quarto (11 1/4 x 7 1/2"). viii, , 823, pp (Vol. 1); , 384pp (Vol. 2). Original blind-stamped olive cloth, with gold lettering to spines.
First edition of this catalogue of the Stowe manuscripts, a collection of about 2,000 Irish, Anglo-Saxon and later medieval manuscripts, nearly all now in the British Library. The manuscripts date from 1154 to the end of the 14th century.
The manuscripts were originally collected by the 1st Marquess of Buckingham (1753 - 1813) and his son, the 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776 - 1839), at Stowe House near Buckingham. The antiquary and palaeographer Thomas Astle left his collection of manuscripts to the Duke when he died in 1803. The Duke subsequently purchased a collection of Irish manuscripts that had been acquired by Charles O'Conor. The entire collection was purchased by the 4th Earl of Ashburnham in 1849, having been prepared for sale by auction following the bankruptcy of the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. In July 1883 the 5th Earl of Ashburnham sold the Stowe manuscript collection to the British government for ₤45,000.
The English material was placed in the British Museum and the Irish manuscripts went, initially on loan, to the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Several Ireland-related manuscripts from the collection were allocated to the Royal Irish Academy (R.I.A.) in Dublin, with the cumdach or book-shrine of the Stowe Missal subsequently being transferred to the National Museum of Ireland. Amongst the manuscripts transferred by the British Government to the R.I.A. in 1883 was 'Manuscript C' of The Annals of the Four Masters, one of the four original manuscript volumes of that famous history of Ireland.
The 1085 Stowe manuscripts at the British Library continue to be catalogued as a separate, closed, collection.
Moderate age-wear to bindings. Some rippling to front and back covers of second volume. Hinges starting in first volume. Ex-library bookplate on inside of each front cover, and reference sticker on inside of back covers. Stamp at top and bottom edges. Previous owner's name (Leland H. Carlson) in ink at upper margin of title page in first volume, and at upper margin of fly leaf in second volume. Sporadic annotations and underlining in ink throughout pages of first volume. Bindings in overall fair to good-, interior in good to very good condition. f to vg. Item #45335