The collection

33 rare printed books on music, scores and part-books published between 1480 and about 1728, the sub-set of a much larger collection of printed works demonstrating the origin and progress of typography as applied to music. Items include the 1480 and 1492 editions of Franchinus Gaffurius’s Theoricum opus musice, the earliest printed treatise on music, and works by Tallis and Byrd.


The collector

Collected by Alfred Henry Littleton (1845-1914), music publisher (see Musical Times 55:862 (Dec. 1914), 685–686).



Purchased from Sotheby’s by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust (CUKT) in 1918 and given to the Library by the CUKT in 1932.



Catalogued online 2007. For an overview of the collection, do an author search on “Littleton, Alfred Henry ” as former owner.


Related archives

Report of the Library Committee for 1932 (description of the collection; UL/1/1/4).


Select publications

  • Attar, K.E., ‘Incunabula at Senate House Library: Growth of a Collection’, Library & Information History, 25 (2009), 97-116 (pp. 103-4)
  • Littleton, A. H., Catalogue of One Hundred Works Illustrating the History of Music Printing from the Fifteenth to the End of the Seventeenth Century in the Library of Alfred Henry Littleton (London: Novello, 1911)
  • Pulver, Jeffrey, ‘Illustrations of the History of Music Printing in the Library of Mr Alfred H. Littleton’, Musical Times, 55:861 (Nov. 1914), 650–651