Knowledge of the fathers before the ANF series began

In the US version of Google books, I have come across a review of one of the volumes of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, in its original form of the Ante-Nicene Christian Library here.  Claiming or allowing others to believe that one has learning one does not seems to be something of a vice among scholars.  So how did scholars manage, before most of the fathers were extant in English translation?

We are more and more convinced that this invaluable library is destined to work a revolution in the Christian world. Many educated ministers have hitherto been dependent on the mere statements of professed Biblical scholars. They could not find time amid the pressure of daily parish duties to study in the original, countless tomes of erudite Greek and Latin fathers. Our age, with all its superior advantages, was rendering the achievement constantly more difficult by its rush and intensity. Now the treasures of past ages are exposed to the gaze of any clergyman having ordinary attainments and leisure. Indeed, a learned acquaintance in the originals with the works composing the ante-Nicene Library was mostly a sham and an egoism. It presumed the undivided study of years. It presumed the possession of rare and expensive books. It presumed usually a chair in a Theological Faculty.
                   — The Church Review, vol. 23 (1871), p.148

I fear that the same might be said today in rather more cases than we might like to suppose.