Each fragment consists of one or two leaves (pages) from a medieval manuscript or early printed book, of dates ranging from the 11th to the 16th centuries.
The manuscripts are a gift from Professor Toshiyuki Takamiya, of Keio University in Tokyo and were presented to the Borthwick by Professor Linne Mooney on behalf of the Centre for Medieval Studies.
The manuscript fragments came from the library of the 19th century medieval manuscript collector, Sir Thomas Phillipps, part of a larger collection of fragments bought by the booksellers William H. Robinson Ltd. of London from the sale of Phillipps manuscripts in 1946. The collection donated by Professor Takamiya was assembled by the booksellers as a sample of styles from several centuries of the Middle Ages.
The larger collection belonged in the first half of the 20th century to Estelle Doheny, a Californian collector. Similar sets of specimen fragments assembled by Robinsons are now in the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana and the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford, while other sets remain in private ownership.
An exhibition focusing on the manuscripts will be held later this year and the archive will be stored and made available via the Borthwick Institute for Archives.