Bhajan Lal MSS dealer

Thrasher, Allen athr at LOC.GOV
Tue Oct 19 20:11:20 UTC 2010

Dominik has shrunk the scan of a Bhajan Lal label supplied for me by Christopher Murphy, Turkish specialist and head of the Near Eastern Section in the African and Middle Eastern Division of LOC so that the system does not refuse the attachment as too large.  About five years ago AMED purchased a number of manuscripts that had been offered by Arthur Probsthain.  Before purchase they had inspected them carefully for indications that there might be national patrimony issues.  The Asian division also had its eye on a collection of Indo-Aryan language manuscripts at a reasonable price, but the money came through just after Probsthain had already sold them.  The Chinese section, however, did buy a number of Chinese manuscripts and early printed books.  I recall that the Indo-Aryan manuscripts each had a printed label with items to be filled in by hand.  I presume they were also Bhajan Lal collections but can't remember and don't have any notes about it, and so can't swear to it.

Probsthain at this time offered several collections, of Indo-Aryan, Perso-Arabic, and Chinese raria, which had been mislaid for many decades.  My notes from that time mention the attic current owner's grandfather's house, but I remember being told it was a corner of the basement of the store, when I visited London.

As I said, Horace Poleman bought a collection of over 400 Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan manuscripts in 1941.  One can tell they are a collection by there being a card index for them, their being numbered consecutively on each ms and on the butcher paper wrappers, and their having the same acquisition date written on all.  I have never been able to find from whom he bought them.  I hope before long to carve out the time to look in the LOC Archives for information on this purchase; however in general LOC does not keep very good records on purchases.  Poleman also bought individual mss from various sources.  

The handwriting in the card index and on the butcher paper seems quite different from Bhajan Lal's or that of whoever filled in Dominik's or AMED's labels.  Notably the t's are crossed on the labels but not in the index.


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian and Team Coordinator
South Asia Team
Asian Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

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