The East Asian Library’s collection of Chinese rubbings is second in number, outside of East Asia, only to that of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
The nucleus of the collection, over 1,500 items, was acquired in 1950 from the estate of Mitsui Soken, a wealthy Japanese bibliophile, and includes albums of rubbings once owned by noted Chinese connoisseurs of the nineteenth century. Other important acquisitions were made through purchase from Chinese scholars and dealers and through the bequest of Professor Woodbridge Bingham’s collection.
The library’s holdings are especially rich in albums of models of calligraphy (fa-tieh 法帖) and bronze inscriptions, but monumental inscriptions on stone are also well represented. About half of the inscriptions date from before the year 1000. A few of the rubbings range in size from one or two inches to up to forty feet in length. Among the many rare items, there are a number of rubbings that are not recorded in the catalogs of Chinese or Japanese libraries and museums and may, therefore, be unique.