Fragments from a Book of Hours

No librarian is happy to see a broken book, but we're lucky to have eight leaves from this sixteenth-century book of hours.  Two of the leaves in Special Collections were originally part of John Bagford's Fragmenta Manuscripta collection – meaning they were removed from the book by the late seventeenth century.  Bagford's fragment collection passed to St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the eighteenth century. The collection was sold in 1861 to Sir Thomas Phillipps, then to Sir Sydney Cockerell in 1913. In 1957, the collection was bought by the bookseller William Salloch, and it came to the University of Missouri in 1968.

The remaining parts of the manuscript (it's not clear how much) were eventually broken around 1920. In the 1980s, Margaret Howell, then director of Special Collections, noticed a set of six leaves on the market, and she was able to reunite at least a portion of this beautiful book of hours. 

All eight of the leaves are cropped in the same manner and show signs of damage from flooding in London in 1846. The manuscript was produced in the style of Geoffroy Tory, an influential type designer of the Renaissance.  This humanistic script may look printed, but it's all written by hand. See more in the Digital Scriptorium: Fragmenta Manuscripta #212, #213, and the six additional pages.

For a great recent overview of the topic of book breaking and its implications for libraries, see This Just In: Breaking Bad by David Whitesell at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

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Kelli Hansen is Print Collections Librarian in Special Collections and Rare Books, where she focuses on outreach, instruction, and reference.

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