The most significant additions to our Aldine Collection come from the library of Professor Richard Copley Christie (1830-1901). The son of a Manchester mill-owner, Christie studied law and history at Lincoln College, Oxford, before being appointed professor of ancient and modern history by the trustees of the newly founded Owens College, Manchester in 1853, aged only 23. He was appointed chair of political economy and commercial science in 1854, plus jurisprudence and law in 1855. He was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1854 and called to the bar in 1857, practising in Manchester.
Aside from his many academic ventures, Christie was an avid bibliophile and pursued various literary researches. He published essays in several respected literary journals, including the Quarterly Review and the English Historical Review, and took a very active interest in the Library Association of the United Kingdom. He served as vice-president of the Bibliographical Society for many years, and in 1889 became a member of the prestigious Roxburghe Club, an exclusive bibliophilic and publishing society.
In 1898, as a gift to Owens College, Christie funded the construction of a library building in Manchester, the Christie Library, designed by Alfred Waterhouse and erected at a cost of over £21,000. Upon his death in 1901,Christie bequeathed to it his entire library of over 8,000 volumes, which he had formed over a number of years ‘with a view of illustrating and enabling its owner to study the Renaissance, and especially the classical Renaissance of Italy and France, […] and the lives, labours and works of a certain limited number of scholars upon whose lives and labours I had at one time hoped to write something. Etienne Dolet, Aldus, Pomponatius, Clenardus, Giulio Camillo, Ramus, Sturm, Postel, J.C. Scaliger, Paul Scaliger, Giordano Bruno, Vanini, Scioppius, Hortensio Lando are some of these’.
Among the most notable items within Christie’s collection were a series of editions of Horace, a large number of Aldines, and over 50 counterfeits printed in Lyon between 1502 and 1527, some of which are now rarer than genuine editions.