The John Rylands Library is home to one of the world’s richest and most unique collections - around 1.4 million items spanning over five thousand years and derived from all corners of the world. John Cassidy created two matching statues, in white Saravezza marble, of John Rylands and Mrs Rylands, which stand guard over the two ends of the Library's Historic Reading Room. John Rylands (1801 - 1888) occupies a prominent position at one end, and Mrs Rylands presides over the other, near to what used to be the Library's service counter. The picture above dates from 2003. Although the statues appear as a pair, they were not conceived or commissioned together. 'John Rylands' was commissioned by Mrs Rylands in 1894 as an integral part of the library dedicated to her late husband, and has had pride of place since the building opened in 1900, whilst her own likeness was commissioned by supporters of the Library, and unveiled on 9 December 1907, a few months before her death on 4 February 1908.