Bayer Collection

Bayer Collection

A collection of approximately 200 Chinese and other oriental books and manuscripts, including:

  • palmleaf books in Tamil and Telugu
  • notes on oriental history and philology
  • correspondence with the Jesuits in Peking

Originally collected by Theophilus (Gottlieb) Siegfried Bayer (1694-1738), sinologist and Professor of Greek and Roman Antiquities at St Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1726-1738), whose library was sold by his widow to Heinrich Walter Gerdes (1690-1741), a Lutheran pastor in London.

It was subsequently purchased from Mrs Gerdes by William Hunter (1718-1783) and incorporated into his collection. Under the terms of Hunter’s will, his library and other collections remained in London for several years after his death - for the use of his nephew, Dr Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) - and finally came to the University in 1807.


How to find material from the Bayer Collection

  • This collection is partly catalogued, see MS Hunter B or locate items using the manuscripts search
  • A revised catalogue of the Bayer papers is being prepared by David Weston (as at 2016). This includes some MS Hunter items relating to Bayer and items not currently listed online including palm leaf manuscripts and Chinese and Manchu books. Please get in touch for more information. The following transcription by David Weston is now available to consult Evenki vocabulary from MS Hunter 211
  • See Knud Lundbaek,  T.S. Bayer (1694-1738) : pioneer sinologist London: 1986.