2,700 items bequeathed by Thomas Glazebrook Rylands (1818-1900), a wire-manufacturer in Warrington. This foundation collection was the University library's first major bequest, including 19 medieval manuscripts and 162 editions printed before 1536.
Image: T.G. Rylands Portrait
The collection reflects Rylands's wide-ranging interests, notably early cartography and the history of Lancashire and Cheshire, but also encompassing astronomy, optics, natural history, phrenology, entomology, archaeology and heraldry, as demonstrated by his published works. Rylands referred to his library as his "tools" and acquired the most important books dealing with each of his successive areas of interest.
Ryland's pragmatic approach to his studies led him to build his own astronomical observatory and to have a phrenological cast made of his own head, whilst his scientific interests were "made applicable to the perfection of a system of sewerage" for which the grateful inhabitants of Warrington elected him Mayor.
The collection includes the 1636 English translation of Mercator's Atlas, hand-coloured throughout, the first complete English edition of Euclid's Elements (1570) with three-dimensional geometrical cut-outs and Hans Holbein's Scenes from the Old Testament (1538), a hand-coloured first edition of the first entire book illustrated with Holbein woodcuts.