Tomasz Szwaciński O. Bleskina, N. Elagina (eds), The Inventory of Manuscripts from the Załuski Library in the Imperial Public Library, Warsaw, 2013.

Based on the estimations by Mikhail Antonovsky (the librarian in charge of the holdings brought from Warsaw in the initial period), the Author cites the number of 10,425 manuscript items (as of 1796, before pieces of the collection were transferred to other institutions as mentioned above). It is worth a mention that archival sources enable us to divide this number into separate languages. The collection included 6,470 Latin items, 1,388 German ones, 1,172 French and 1,059 Polish ones, while none of the remaining 15 languages corresponded to more than 200 items.8 Certainly, the margin of error in such estimations is considerable, as no category of multilingual items was taken into account (while in 1846 many Załuski manuscripts were classified in this particular category). Nevertheless, the Register generally confirms the proportions calculated previously by Antonovsky.9 This is of prime importance, as out of the extant manuscripts of the Załuski Library, the German ones are certainly over-represented and the linguistic nature of the collection cannot be determined on their basis. 

One more issue needs to be made clear. Olga Bleskina writes: “Additionally, the Register covers manuscripts related to the collections, though not actually owned by Załuski, such as no. 8333: Regestra Dochodu y Wydatka Pieniędzy w Bibliotece publiczney (Zaluskiego) pod dozorem Kommyssyi, roku 1783 in 4to, sine (Pol.O.X.7), dating from 9 years after the death of the last owner” (p. 19, footnote 33). Hence, let us remember that in 1795 a national library was taken away to St. Petersburg. Its full name was the Library of the Commonwealth also Called Załuski, while “Załuski Library” is nothing but a conventional term.10 All manuscripts incorporated into the collection after 1774 (even if not so numerous) formed an integral part.

A research question which remains unaddressed in the article is whether the creation of the Register made it easier to use this enormous collection. In 1811, a new employee of the Manuscript Depot, Alexander Ermalov, submitted a report to the IPL Director Alexey Olenin stating that a part of the manuscripts were stored in great disorder. Neither the arrangement applied at the Załuski Library, nor the one assigned in the Register11 were in use.

The text by Krzysztof Kossarzecki (also in three languages, pp. 81–103), The Załuski Family and their Library, presents the history of the first Polish national book depository and its collections after they were taken away to St. Petersburg. The Author supplements the information cited by Olga Bleskina on the circumstances under which the Register12 was created, outlining its structure and the methodology for identifying items.

Krzysztof Kossarzecki makes the valuable observation that the manuscripts in the lists (corresponding to the contents of the boxes) were often divided according to language (p. 101), and a couple of paragraphs later he mentions that language was one of the classification criteria for manuscripts as far back as in Warsaw (p. 102). This may lead to an assumption that the Register may reflect to a certain extent the arrangement of manuscripts in the Daniłowicz palace in Warsaw. However, the shelf marks of the Załuski Library quoted in the edition lead to the conclusion that this must have been rather rare. The Author himself remarks (p. 84) that the manuscripts were re-packed from autumn 1795 (supposedly by Mikhail Antonovsky). 

Furthermore, following the massive cataloguing campaign at the IPL in the 1840s, the collections from the Załuski Library became mixed with other holdings. In the period of restitution of the Polish cultural heritage from Soviet Russia, the Register was mentioned by Polish specialists as a tool which could possibly help to separate the Załuski materials from the rest of the collection.13

The structure of the edition (pp. 111-477) is clear and very convenient for researchers. The first column provides serial numbers assigned by the editors. Columns 2, 3, 4 and 5 present the source contents. Column 2 gives the number assigned to the particular item within the respective caisse or cabinet (Cahier A-C, A-G, A-C), 3 presents the item description, 4 gives the Załuski shelf mark (if absent in the Register, the editors made appropriate efforts to supplement this gap based on other sources), while 5 corresponds to the number of volumes. Further columns (column 1 aside) form part of the research information provided by the editors of the publication. 6 is the identified St. Petersburg shelf mark as of 1846, 7 gives the date when the manuscript was handed over to the Polish side in the 1920s, and 8 gives the current shelf mark in the National Library of Poland or the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw, or a note that the item is still held by the NLR. 

In must be concluded that the identification of the items listed in the Register is, apart from the edition of the text as such, the most scientifically valuable part of the work. The efforts of the Russian Authors deserve the greatest recognition.14 The contribution of the Manuscript Department of the National Library of Poland to this initiative shall also be underscored. It was made possible by the creation and ongoing supplementation of a database (in the MAK system) with the purpose of bringing together the information on the manuscript collection of the Załuski Library.15


8 Estimations by Mikhail Antonovsky regarding the manuscripts brought from Warsaw [St. Petersburg 1796], NLR, DAR, F. 1, d. 1797/1, f. 71v.

9 Those proportions are also corroborated by a summary prepared by P. Bańkowski for most of the reclaimed manuscript items, 80% of which were Załuski Library materials. P. Bańkowski, Rękopisy… [Manuscripts…], p. 7. 

10 K. Kossarzecki also discusses this issue (p. 99).

11 “хранящимся в депо рукописям не только не сделано еще верного и подробного каталога и листы в важнейших рукописях не переномерены, но частию даже и самыя книги состоят в шкафах без всякого порядка, то есть несходно ни с прежнею номерацею Залускаго, ни с тою описю, по которой оныя были принятые от покойного г-на дОгара. Следовательно при таком положении депо манускриптов нет возможности ответствовать за целость находящихся в оном книг, коих число простирается до 11.000 томов”. Letter of A. Ermalov to A. Olenin, [St. Petersburg] 9(21)/12/1811 (report), NLR, DAR, F. 1, d. 1812/10, ff. 12-12v. 

12 Let us add that the correspondence between the IPL director Alexander Stroganov and its quaestor Peter Popov contains a number of interesting (however secondary) details on the preparation of the lists making up the Register, St. Petersburg, July-September 1807, NLR, DAR, F. 1, d. 1806/43, ff. 14 -20.

13 Paper by L. Bernacki presented at the 9th plenary meeting of the Mixed Special Commission on 14/09/1922, in Dokumenty dotyczące akcji Delegacyj Polskich w Komisjach Mieszanych Reewakuacyjnej i Specjalnej w Moskwie [Records of the Actions of the Polish Delegations in the Mixed Commission on Restitution and the Mixed Special Commission], vol. 8, Warszawa, 1923, pp. 165-166. 

14 To complement this information, we can add that the mark “Caisse 5/58” can be found on item BN rps 3248/1 (Saint Petersburg shelf mark: Coll. Autogr. 270/23). Meanwhile, the above-mentioned shelf mark of the National Library of Poland is not quoted for item 986 of the Register. Also compare Register 2647. 

15 М. Вреде, С. Шиллер, „Исследования рукописного фонда библиотеки братьев Залуских” in Западные Рукописи и Традиция их Изучения, Saint Petersburg, 2009, pp. 46-50.