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Hays (2013 Congress)

Gregory Hays
(University of Virginia)
“The Medieval Manuscripts of Edward L. Stone”

Abstract of Paper at the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2013)

Session on “Medieval Manuscripts in North American Collections”
Sponsored by King Alfred’s Notebook LLC and the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
Organized by Scott Gwara (King Alfred’s Notebook LLC / University of South Carolina — Columbia)
2013 Congress

[First published on our first website on 212 May 2013]

Of the medieval manuscripts owned by the University of Virginia, the largest single bloc -— eight codices -— derives from the collection of the Roanoke printer and businessman Edward L. Stone (1864-1938).  This paper offers a sketch of Stone’s life and career as a collector, based in part on his surviving papers, and briefly surveys the manuscripts that can be associated with him.

Stone was a classic Horatio Alger hero.  Left fatherless at an early age, he had no formal schooling beyond the age of ten.  Starting as typesetter at a newspaper, he rose to a prominent position in Roanoke society, as head of the Stone Printing and Manufacturing Company and chief executive of the Borderland Coal Company.  By the early 1920s he had withdrawn from day-to-day management of both concerns and began accumulating a major collection of early printed books.  His manuscript collecting began as an outgrowth of his interest in printing, but soon took on an impetus of its own.  Like many American collectors of the period, Stone was drawn in by his first acquaintance with a book of hours, but his collection eventually included a Bible, a psalter, two breviaries, patristic works in Latin and Italian, and a German translation of an Alexander text.  It is likely that the collection would have grown further, but family troubles, health issues and the advent of the Depression forced him to call a halt by 1930.  Though Stone was never in a position to compete with major collectors like J.P. Morgan, Chester Beatty, or even George Plimpton, he remains a significant example of what one might call the middle rank of American collectors, of whom he was typical in some ways, distinctive in others.

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