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“I have thought of the days of old and the years that are past”

This hand-tinted engraved self-portrait by Thomas Barritt (1743-1820) is to be found pasted into the front of one of his small scrapbooks, of which the Library holds several. Barritt, a saddler by trade, was an enthusiastic local historian and one of the pioneering antiquarians of the Manchester region. His scrapbooks contain page after page of genealogical notes, drawings of coats of arms, memorial inscriptions and people and places in Manchester and Lancashire. The motto above the likeness reads ‘profert antiqua in apricum’, that is, ‘he brings ancient things to light’.

One of the more unusual items is this scrap of Chinese paper weaving, an exquisitely detailed piece of hand-coloured construction:

A later page displays this delicate pen and ink representation of the dance of death:

We continue to examine the manuscript notebooks of Thomas Barritt with the hope of ‘bringing to light’ more of his fascinating and valuable observations.

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