The British Library has paid to keep a 500-year-old dictionary in the UK after it was sold to an overseas buyer at auction.
An export bar was put in place to stop the sale of the Catholicon Anglicum. Its deadline was Monday. The bar required that a UK organisation make a matching offer for the "crucial" Middle English-Latin dictionary to prevent it going abroad. The British Library paid £92,500 for the manuscript. It is regarded as one of the earliest examples of an English dictionary and is thought to have been written in the north of England around 1483.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey put the export bar in place last year. At the time, he said the dictionary was of "outstanding significance" to the history of the English language and "fundamental to the identity and life of our nation". It represented a "crucial milestone" in the evolution of the English dictionary, his department said, and was the only complete one in existence.
'Invaluable and unique'
The only other known copy is held at the British Library, but it has lost leaves in several places. It is believed the dictionary was written in Yorkshire, based on the dialect of the English words present. The Catholicon Anglicum was written to help students with Latin composition during a time when many grammar schools were founded.
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