Category: manuscript collections

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Manuscript Monday: A Tiny Dutch Bifolium

We think this week's post counts for manuscript Monday and maybe even miniature Monday too!  This is a bifolium – a sheet folded to make two leaves, or four pages of text – from a very small prayer book in Dutch.  It was produced in the Low Countries sometime during the fourteenth century. The dimensions of each page are 72 x 76 mm, or about 2.8 x 3 inches.  

You can find more about this bifolium in the Digital Scriptorium.  It's fragment number 128 in the Fragmenta Manuscripta Collection: a group of leaves, binding waste, and other manuscript fragments assembled by John Bagford in the seventeenth century.

fm128-bifolium

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Posted in Rare Book Collection

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.

Book-of-Hours-Manuscript-4 Book-of-Hours-Manuscript-1

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Posted in Digital Collections, Rare Book Collection

Medieval Chess Problem

How about a little brainteaser with your Monday manuscript?  This is a chess problem from a fourteenth-century manuscript. It's Fragmenta Manuscripta #194.  The entire Fragmenta Manuscripta collection is online at the Digital Scriptorium.

Chess problem

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Posted in Digital Collections, Rare Book Collection
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