Facsimile: Ms Lewis E201
View one of the Free Library's treasures -- a genealogy of
Edward IV, King of England from 1461-1483,
to be displayed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
and the Frist Gallery, Nashville, in 2001-2002
The core of the
Free Library's medieval manuscript collection is the John Frederick
Lewis collection. Lewis, a maritime lawyer, was active on behalf of
several Philadelphia institutions, especially the Historical Society
of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He collected
Western and Oriental manuscripts as part of his studies in the history
of the book, of writing, and of printing.
The Western manuscripts in the Lewis Collection number over 200 books and 2,000 separate leaves ranging in date from the 9th to the 18th century. Included are some fifty Books of Hours from the 15th and early 16th centuries, Bibles, Psalters, antiphonaries, missals, writings of the Church Fathers, and other religious texts. The works of classical and medieval writers -- among them, Aristotle, Arnoldus de Villanova, Cicero, Isidore of Seville, Terence, and Virgil -- are also represented. A catalogue of the books, compiled by Edwin Wolf 2nd, was published in 1937. (Edwin Wolf, 2nd. A Descriptive Catalogue of the John Frederick Lewis Collection of European Manuscripts in the Free Library of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: 1937.)
The Free Library collections include nine remarkable volumes collected by Peter Arrell Brown Widener, including Jean Bruyant's Le Livre du Chastel de Labour. The Carson Collection of Anglo-American Common Law also includes a number of medieval manuscripts, including four copies of Magna Carta.