The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

The New York ‘prayer book’

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: An Ethiopian religious manuscript described as a “prayer book” and “very likely” from Magdala

Where: Last seen listed in a 1928 bibliography as “in the New York Public Library”

Start of 1924 the article An Abyssinian “Book of Prayers in the journal Asia

The journal Asia ran an article by Robert Mountsier in 1924 headlined “: A Quaintly Illustrated Parchment Volume That Helps Defend an Empire“. You can read it and see its many illustrations here – https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000067504855&view=1up&seq=276&q1=prayers

The article described a manuscript that had “very likely” come from Magdala. It “ultimately found its way into the famous Huth Library, the 112 stout pages of parchment and the original Ethiopic binding of red morocco intact, and recently it came into the possession of Mr. Lathrop C. Harper, of New York,” the article added.

The Asia article was later mentioned in the bibliography of George F. Black’s 1928 work Ethiopica & Amharica: a list of works in the New York public library – see it here – https://archive.org/details/ethiopicaamharic00newy/page/16/mode/2up?q=Mountsier. Black added a note saying “This manuscript is now in the New York Public Library”.

So far we have not found an entry in the New York Public Library’s databases. Likely locations are the Spencer Collection and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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