The Prince and the Plunder

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

Category: Suspected Magdala plunder

Scroll with faces, eyes, saltire crosses, cross (IE TCD MS 3810) *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: Described as “Ethiopic [religious] text with slight rubrication, end decoration and illustrated miniatures consisting of faces, eyes, saltire crosses, cross, 1090x71mm, rolled vellum.”

Where: Trinity College Library – Dublin

One of at least 19 Ethiopic manuscripts listed in the library’s database.

Library ref: IE TCD MS 3810
database entry – https://manuscripts.catalogue.tcd.ie/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=IE+TCD+MS+3809-3810&pos=12

Provenance:
Purchased by TCLD 9 June 1905. Brought from Abyssinia in 1869 [receipt kept with rolls]. Found in Classing Room, April 1964
1869 is the year after the Abyssinian Expedition

An ‘Ethiopic manuscript’ with six illustrations (IE TCD MS 2286) *

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What: A [religious] text in Ethiopic script in a roll, interspersed with six illustrations in brown and black. Note on the back mentions the Abyssinian Expedition and one of the British force’s bases on the route.

Where: Trinity College Library – Dublin

One of at least 19 Ethiopic manuscripts listed in the library’s database.

Library ref: IE TCD MS 2286
database entry – https://manuscripts.catalogue.tcd.ie/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=IE+TCD+MS+2286&pos=5

Provenance:
Dated on back “Addigerat, March 22 1868. R.G. Kennedy Abs[ynnia]n Ex[peditio]n.”
Presented by Col. Lefroy, Carrigglas Manor, Longford, 1 May 1950.

Scroll showing cross with Roman soldiers (IE TCD MS 3809) *

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What: Described as “Ethiopic [religious] text with rubrication, illumination and illuminated miniatures, crucifixion – cross with Roman soldiers, no figures of Christ, 800x88mm, rolled vellum”

Where: Trinity College Library – Dublin

One of at least 19 Ethiopic manuscripts listed in the library’s database.

Library ref: IE TCD MS 3809
database entry – https://manuscripts.catalogue.tcd.ie/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=IE+TCD+MS+3809-3810&pos=12

Provenance:
Purchased by TCLD 9 June 1905. Brought from Abyssinia in 1869 [receipt kept with rolls]. Found in Classing Room, April 1964
1869 is the year after the Abyssinian Expedition

The New York ‘prayer book’

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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.

A manuscript including an Ethiopic-Amharic vocabulary, with note linking it to the Abyssinian campaign (OR 9798)

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What: An 18th century Ethiopian manuscript containing an Ethiopic-Amharic vocabulary, poems, a calendar for the movable feasts and an Amharic explanation of the Creed, with a note linking it to Britain’s 1867-8 Abyssinian Campaign

Where: The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

Ref: OR 9798
Digital version – http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Or_9798

Provenance:

An indistinct note written in the central division between the two columns of text of the first page mentions a Captain Edwards from a Light Cavalry Regiment at Abyssinia in 1867-8

A note in the front pages reads:”Bought of Mr. S. Rowley. 22 May, 1927″

The Southwark scroll *

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What: Scroll bought back by the 4th regiment

Where: Southwark’s Cuming Museum, 211 Borough High Street, London SE1 1JA

According to the catalogue entry, it is “a scroll of rolled cloth, from a Hegab or charm bracelet. It is inscribed with a passage from the Koran”. It said it was “brought to England by the 4th regiment in 1868”.

Details
Dimensions: 250 x 80 x 40 mm
Object number: C05286