Asutosh Collection
Asutosh Mukherjee (1864-1924) was Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court (1904-23) and Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University (1906-14 and 1921-2). He was an avid bibliophile and had acquired a collection of over 86,000 books.

In 1949, his heirs donated this entire collection to the National Library. The collection has books on almost all subjects, but the major part consists of books on law, European literature, history and the pure sciences. There are about 170 titles of different periodicals excluding the law reports. Although the majority of the titles is in English, the collection also has books in Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit and many other languages.

 

A View of the Asutosh Collection

Notitia Vtraqve…(1553) is the oldest printed book in this collection. It is in Latin. The speciality of the Asutosh Collection is that it has multiple editions of many titles. There are about 30 editions of the Rubaiyat, 30 of the Arabian Nights, 25 of the Bible, and 4 of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Another feature of the collection are the limited editions from the last decades of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th.

The limited editions include Robert Browning’s The Flight of the Duchess, of which only 125 copies were printed on vellum, Henry M. Stanley’s In Darkest Africa (1890), of which only 250 copies were printed (the copy available in this collection is numbered 240 and bears the author's autograph), S. T. Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1903), only 150 copies of which were printed on vellum. Another notable limited edition is Arthur Upson’s Lyrics and Sonnets (1909), only 25 copies of which were printed on Japanese vellum.

Apart from the books and periodicals, the collection has also many rare original paintings, photographs and manuscripts.

The library has published a catalogue of the Asutosh Collection in five volumes.

 

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