Book Missing for 100 Years Returns to Marsh's Library in Dublin
A book printed almost 500 years ago, which has been missing from the Archbishop Marsh’s Library in Dublin for 100 years, has made its way back home. The book, one of a five-volume set of a Theodore Gulston’s copy of the works of Galen, was returned on Friday by an anonymous do-gooder who had found the book in a junk shop. After a century away, the book has been returned to its set relatively unscathed.
According to Dr. Jason McElligott of the Marsh Library, the book had been in the collection since 1701. Printed in 1583, the roots of the book travel back even further to original texts by Galen, a Greek philosopher and physician who lived around 200 AD. This particular translation was done by Gulston. The pages are marked with Gulstons revisions for a future edition.
“The book itself was printed in Basle in 1538, and it was donated by Gulston’s widow in 1635 to his old College, Merton College, Oxford. At some point it was then bought by, or presented to, Narcissus Marsh, who was an Oxford man. Marsh then travelled across the Irish Sea to become Provost of Trinity College Dublin in 1679, and his books came to us when he established his library here in Dublin in 1701. The five volume set of Galen was here until about 100 years ago when one of the volumes was seen to be missing,” Dr McElligott said.
On Friday, a barrister, known only as P.G., who discovered the book returned it to the library. He had purchased it along with an antique mirror at a junk shop in Dublin for 90 euro. He became suspicious and brought the book to the Marsh Library where the librarians recognised it as their own. A page with the original notes by Gulston has miraculously survived, tucked inside the book:
The handwritten revisions and editing, done by Gulston himself, can be seen along the edges of the pages:
A handwritten note from the author’s widow, written in 1635 is also visible on the title page of the book. The paper was made of linen and rags and is incredibly hard wearing, which is why after almost 500 years the book is still very much intact:
McElligott remarked that the library was lucky to have the book returned in good condition.
“We’re delighted to have it back, and will set our conservators to work on repairing the damage to the spine and first few pages,” said McElligott.
“P.G. refused to accept any money for the return of the book, not even what it cost him. The text of the book itself, though, is in beautiful condition.”