|This is the entry from the Columbia University Library acquisition catalog for the manuscripts acquired for the library from [Paul] Geuthner, which arrived at the library on 8/31/08 and were purchased for 70.00USD|
Last month, I wrote a short entry on an Ibadi manuscript at the Columbia University Special Collections and Rare Books Library, which my colleague Evyn Kropf from the University of Michigan told me about earlier in the year.
The internet is an amazing thing: within 48 hours I learned far more about this manuscript than I knew when I wrote that and I wanted to share some of the fascinating details of that manuscript’s social life here.
In the first post, I had speculated that this manuscript was originally from either Algeria or Egypt and that it belonged to the same collection as similar manuscripts held at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, Ukraine.
Well, yes and no.
While the manuscript probably did originate in Algeria, it came to Columbia–as did the manuscripts from the same collection belonging to the same collection–by way of Paris. It turns out that the same dealer in Paris, Paul Geuthner, sold several manuscripts to Zygmunt Smogorzewski at the beginning of the 20th century. These manuscripts, he noted in a book review, belonged to the library of French military interpreter Adolph Motylinski and were sold to Geuthner in Paris. Smogorzewski bought some of them but noted that others were sold to “an American university.”
Columbia?! Well, yes and no. Based on the handwriting on the blue and white shelfmark stickers, some manuscripts at Columbia came from the same collection and were likely purchased in Paris at the same time. I know this thanks to the gracious help of Special Collections librarian Jane Siegel, who provided me with the titles of these manuscripts and a lot of additional information. According to Columbia’s acquisition record, a group of manuscripts was purchased in 1908 (arriving at the library on 31 August 1908) from a dealer labeled as “Geuthner.” (See photo) The purchasing price was a whopping $70.00USD. The purchaser’s name is not given but Jane suggested that the fabulously named Richard James Horatio Gottheil (1862-1936), who was a professor of Semitic languages and Rabbinical literature at Columbia, may well have been the purchaser.
Based on the initial list of titles I have, there do not appear to any other Ibadi manuscripts. So, I am tempted to think that the remaining books of Motylinski library did not end up only in New York but were scattered among a number of private and institutional buyers that could all be traced back to Geuthner in Paris. My colleague Soufien Mestaoui at the Centre Ibadica in Paris recently discovered that the documents and registries of sale from Geuthner’s shop were just recently relocated to the l’Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) in Caen. When they become available there, it may be possible to track what happened to the rest of the Motylinski library.
As it stands now, the fate of the Motylinski library appears to have been divided up into two principal places :
(1) The donation that he made in the the early 1880s (1883-84) to the University of Algiers library manuscript collection of 11 Ibadi manuscripts, mostly dealing with theology. These were presumably lost with the rest of the manuscripts in the first of 1962. 
(2) The shop of Paul Geuthner in Paris in the early 1900 (prior to or shortly after Motylinski’s death from typhus in 1907), whence at least some of the manuscripts went to Lviv and others to New York. 
The final in this three part post will be the combined list of the manuscripts we know of in the Motylinski library.