The Mazarine's collection of squeezes started with epigraphic work carried out for the Ministry of Public Instruction by Léon Rénier (1809-1885), charged in 1850-1853 with "exploring in the province of Constantine, the epigraphic monuments of Lambaesis and nearby sites, and collecting, either by squeezing or by copying, all the inscriptions on these monuments." Then, by decree of June 1854, to carry out the same type of work for Roman Gaul with a view to publishing a general collection of inscriptions in Gaul. On Rénier's death, the material he had accumulated was sequestered by the state and entrusted to the library of the learned societies, then temporarily housed in the Mazarine, to be inventoried under the supervision of Héron de Villefosse, by René Cagnat (Africa) and Robert Mowat (Gaul). The squeezes of inscriptions from Africa were finally transferred to the Library of the Sorbonne, while the Roman inscriptions from Gaul remained in the Mazarine.
This core collection was joined by the squeezes from Roman Gaul collected by Jules de Laurière (1825-1894), Edouard Flouest (1829-1891), Léon Maxe-Werly (1831-1901) and Antoine Héron de Villefosse (1845-1919), and by inscriptions from Africa probably collected by René Cagnat (1852-1937).
Composed of several thousand paper squeezes stored in 73 boxes, and 44 boxes of transcriptions, notes, letters, etc., the collection of copies of Latin inscriptions is not only one of the finest French collections of epigraphic surveys in France, but also a precious historical testimony to the origins and working methods of the science.
The repacking and description of the squeezes in Calames, classified geographically with systematic referencing in the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL) when the inscription has been transcribed, began in 2013.