The maner of kepynge a court Baron and a Lete wyth dyvers fourmes of entreis (etc.).

London, Nicholas Hill 1546.,


8vo., 36 unumbered ll. A-D8, E4. Black letter. Title within charming architectural border, probably metal rather than woodcut (McKerrow and Ferguson 33), large white on black criblé initials, W.A. Foyle’s label on pastedown, Adolfo Tura’s below. Light age yellowing, upper outer corner a bit dusty on a few ll., very minor waterstain in blank upper margin of a few leaves. Generally a very good, clean copy in modern natural crushed morocco by Bayntun and Rivière of Bath, covers bordered with a single blind rule, small fleurons to corners, spine with title gilt in long, small blind fleurons at head and tail, blind inner dentelles, a.e.r.

A very rare edition of this practical guide to pleadings and procedure in manorial courts; its authorship is unknown. It was a very popular work going through a dozen editions between c. 1538 and 1552 all of which have survived in only two or three known copies, often imperfect. The older writers such as Coke held that a manor had two courts; the court baron, by common law, the freeholders being its suitors, and the leet, a customary court for the copyholders. The first was the means by which the lord of the manor exercised feudal jurisdiction over his men and the second a customary court whose chief business was to admit new tenants who had acquired copyholds by inheritance or purchase and on taking possession had to pay a fine to the lord of the manor. Maitland doubted this dichotomy concluding that at least by the end of the C13 there was no distinction of courts though there could be of jurisdiction, which is what the difference of name indicated. Manorial courts survived as an active part of the English legal system until the abolition of copyholds in the 1920s and would have been of very considerable practical importance in the C16 following the nationalisation and distribution of monastic lands when there would have been a great number of new copyholds to be entered. An uncommon imprint. Hill was a Dutchman who printed in London between c. 1542 and 1553 and for a short time thereafter in Emden. His London premises were in Clerkenwell, not far from the Inns of Court, and a large proportion of his small production was for the legal market.

ESTC records two copies only of this edition, one at Harvard the other at the University of Minnesota.

ESTC S4219. STC 7717.4 (2 copies in US, none elsewhere). Not in Ames.


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[RELY, Iehan de]

L’ ordre tenu et garde en l’assemblee des trois estats, .., conuoques en ville de Tours par le seu Roy Charles huytiesme …

Paris, en la boutique de Galliot du Pré, Janvier 1558

Price available upon request

8vo. ff. (viii), 63 (i.e. 74), (ii). a⁸, A-I⁸, K⁴. Roman letter, titles, latin and side notes in Italic. Gaillot du Pré’s beautiful woodcut ship device on verso of last, small woodcut on first line of title, fine floriated woodcut initials, bookplate of Georges Hersent on pastedown. Light age yellowing. A fine copy in C19th French dark green crushed morocco, covers bordered with a double gilt rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double blind ruled in compartments, title gilt lettered direct, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, combed marble endpapers, a.e.g.

Beautifully printed edition of this resume of acts of the ‘États-généraux’ held in Tours under Charles the VIII, by the Bishop Jean de Rely. In this edition the acts of the States-General of Tours are preceded by the speech pronounced before Charles VIII and his council, by Jean de Rély, representative of the clergy of Paris who had been elected by the Three States to present to the sovereign the results of their deliberations. Jean de Rély (1430-1499) was a professor of theology, and was later chancellor and archdeacon of Notre-Dame and chaplain to Charles VIII, whom he accompanied on his expedition to Italy, then finally bishop of Angers. The States-General of 1484 were convoked by the Regent Anne de Beaujeu at Tours, to designate who should occupy the regency after the death of Louis XI (August 30, 1483) and during the minority of Charles VIII. Although the late king had designated her, with her husband Pierre de Beaujeu, Louis II of Orleans, challenged them. The summoning of the States General was a first victory for the prince. These États-généraux were of great importance in French history as for the first time, they brought together elected officials from all over the kingdom: from Artois to Dauphiné, from Brittany (which only sent observers) to Burgundy. On top of this, again for the first time, representatives of all social bodies were convened: nobility, clergy and the Third Estate, and remarkably, in the Third Estate, peasants were also represented. In total, the different provinces and the different orders sent 285 delegates. These Estates General introduced a bold conception of government, with the political power belonging to the people, being by them, vested in the king. The minority of the king caused a return of power to the Estates; it was therefore up to the states to organize government during the King’s minority. These Estates General were also particularly interesting for a complete reorganisation of the system of taxation, but also covered every aspect of the Government of France, with lasting effect.

The work in this form was first printed in 1518 and is here beautifully reprinted by the Parisian bookseller Gaillot du Pré with his famous device of a galley on the verso last.

USTC 1158. La Croix du Maine, I, 581. Brunet, IV, 223. Not in BM STC Fr. C16th.


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NORTON, Thomas

A warning agaynst the dangerous practises of Papists, and specially the partners of the late rebellion.

London, by Iohn Daye, dwelling ouer Aldersgate, [1570]


8vo., 57 unnumbered ll. [pi1, A-O⁴.] Black letter, some Roman and Italic, printed side notes. Small floriated initial. Light age yellowing, small oil stain in some blank upper margins. A very good copy, crisp and clean in crushed crimson morocco by Rivière and Sons circa 1900, covers single blind and gilt ruled to a panel design, fleurons gilt to corners, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, gilt and blind ruled in compartments, fleurons gilt at centres, title gilt lettered direct, edges gilt ruled, turn ins with double gilt rule, very expertly rebacked with spine remounted, a.e.g.

Rare second edition of this piece of anti catholic propaganda by Thomas Norton (1532 -1584) lawyer, poet, parliamentarian, Protestant translator and activist. He produced this on behalf of Elizabeth I in an attempt to stop the spread of the rising in the North which had broken out in 1569. The Catholics in northern England under the leadership of the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland had risen in revolt at the ferocity of the government’s persecution of their faith and whilst professing full loyalty to the Queen demanded the restoration of the liberty of Catholic worship. At first successful, they were ultimately defeated by the Earl of Sussex near York; the prisoners were tortured, hung, drawn and quartered in their hundreds. Norton edited and published several of their confessions. The present pamphlet was Norton’s first taste of active service in the war of persecution of English Catholics on which Elizabeth’s ministers were embarking, but he aspired to more. By 1581 he was official censor of the Queen’s Catholic subjects, whose duties included the extraction of confessions under torture. He boasted that he had stretched Fr. Alexander Briant ‘a foot longer than God had made him’, fathers Myagh, Campion and others soon suffered similar treatment at Nortons hands. In England Norton soon became known as the ‘Rackmaster General’ and in Europe ‘Archicarnifex’.

“Thomas Norton soon threw off the moderation and restraint of his first publication on the rising. In his warning agaynst the dangerous practises of Papists’.. he set out to prove ‘that every papist, that is to say everyone that believeth all the pope’s doctrine to be true, is an enemy and traitor.’ According to Norton ‘no clemency, gentleness, .. or loveing dealing can win a papist while he continueth a papist, to love her Majesty.’ [For Norton] The rebellion itself had offered proof of the equation between papistry and treason, whether the rebels had been deceived or not.” K. Kesselring ‘The Northern Rebellion of 1569: Faith, Politics and Protest in Elizabethan England’.

Norton’s more palatable claim to fame is as joint author with Thomas Sackville of ‘Gorboduc’, the earliest tragedy in English and the earliest in blank verse, based on an episode of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History’ and performed in the style of Seneca; it was much admired.

ESTC. S126224. STC. 18686. Not in Lowndes or Milward.


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Super feudis (With additions by Matthaeus de Corbinellis and Montorius Mascarellus).

Venice, [Printer of the 1477 Alvarotus (Roman Type)], 1477, 10 July.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. 372 unnumbered leaves. a–c10, d8, e10, f8, g–l10, [m–o8, p4, q10, r–t8, v10.] A8, B–D10, E8, F10, G8, H10, I8, K–N10, O8, P8, Q6, QQ8, R–T10, V12. Roman letter in double column. Capital spaces with guide letters, small red initials in the index leaves, capital spaces le blank but the first several filled by a just later hand, including three with charming grotesque heads, contemporary manuscript foliation and subject headline, purchase inscription recording its price of 5 rhenish gulden and dated at Nuremberg, 1478, at head of pastedown, two further early inscriptions below, dated 1494, 1509 in a slightly different hand, one inscription erased, Jodocus Oethaeus of Nordhausen, 1568 manuscript inscription, with his manuscript title above, on recto of first leaf, another, Matthaeus Gerstenbrand, 1692 at centre, two early shelf marks on pastedown, another later one in lower outer corner of first leaf, early annotations in several hands throughout, with pointing hands, occasional underlinings. Small scattered single wormholes in the first few and final few quires touching some letters, occasional very light age toning, inks splash on one leaf, very minor margin waterstaining to upper margin in places, with the odd thumb mark. A fine copy, crisp and clean on thick paper with very large margins, in beautiful contemporary south German (possibly Nuremberg) allum tawed pigskin over thick wooden boards, covers triple blind ruled to a panel design, outer panel on upper cover with repeated blind stamped rose tools (EDBB s016008) in upper and lower section, blind stamped rose bush tool to both side sections, on lower cover the rose tools are to the corners with another floriated tool at sides, rose bush tool stamped above and below, central panels triple blind ruled in crossed diagonals, with Philipp Baumann’s armorial blind stamp (EDBD s016004), a fine Madonna and Child stamp (EDBD s016009), a small bird stamp (EDBD s016005) all stamped in centres, spine with large raised bands triple blind ruled at centre of compartments, early manuscript title at head, traces of clasps and ties, scattered worm holes in both covers.

A splendid and most interesting copy of this finely printed incunable, exceptionally rare, with an equally rare early binding with armorial ownership stamps. This incunable is the only book assigned to this press at Venice. The distinctive armorial stamp on the covers are those of Philipp Bauman. Some have identified this stamp, and the other stamps associated with it (Designated to the same workshop [EDBD w002384] by the Deutsche Einbanddatenbank), as identifying a binder. While the stamp naming Philipp Baumann could perhaps identify the binder, Kyriss (GBJB 1957) considered it an owner’s stamp, a view which seems to be born out by the relative rarity of the stamps, and the fact that they generally do not appear in other combinations. Most interestingly all the known copies of books bearing Baumann’s stamps are also on law books, which probably identifies him as a lawyer or as a scholar of the law. It seems improbable that the only works surviving from one bindery were law books. Very few 15th-century ownership stamps are known at all, and such an early one with what is also probably the owners original purchase note make this copy particularly interesting. The Deutsche Einbanddatenbank states that the bindings with these stamps are South German though the purchase inscription recording its price of 5 rhenish gulden and dated Nuremberg, 1478 could probably help identify the precise location of the binding. There is no direct evidence that the purchase note is in Bauman’s hand but as the book was printed at Venice less than a year before it was bound it seems unlikely it could be another’s.

The Super feudis is, an important commentary by the celebrated lawyer and judge, Jacobus Alvarotus, noted for his learning in both civil and canon law. Alvarotus was an eminent feudal lawyer, a native of Padua, who studied at the university there. Having obtained his degree he lectured on feudal law for 16 years, probably at Padua. He subsequently filled the office of Judge in the cities of Florence and Siena. He died at the age of 68 in 1453. This was his major work, though some of his consilia were published in the C16th. GW had assigned one other edition to the Printer of the 1477 Alvarotus, but CIBN has subsequently assigned it to Beretin Convento.

His works are particularly rare: no copy of any 15th-century edition is recorded as having been on the market in over 60 years. A beautiful and important copy, with interesting contemporary and early annotation.

BMC V 259. Goff A-545. H 886. BSB-Ink A-457. Madsen 157. Sheehan: Vaticana I-153. ISTC ia00545000.


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Del terremoto.

Bologna, per Alessandro Benacci, 1571.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (iv) 56. Roman letter. T-p with fine woodcut of crown, decorated initials and headpieces. Lower outer corner of first few ll. very slightly thumbed, an excellent, well-margined copy, crisp and clean, in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, lower part of spine repaired. In folding box.

Fine copy of the first edition of Lucio Maggio’s major work on seismology. Written in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Ferrara in 1570, this is one of three pamphlets printed in Bologna in 1571 discussing this devastating event, which caused the last stretch of the nearby river Po to shift to a different site. The Bolognese Maggio (d. 1589?) was part of the circle of
the Duke of Urbino, on whose behalf he visited Ferrara to report on the disaster. He presented his work in the form of a dialogue between three learned gentlemen leaving the ruins of Ferrara by sea, after witnessing the earthquake. With the help of ancient authorities like Aristotle, Anaximenes, Pliny and Democritus, their debate touches on all aspects of early modern seismology, blending scientific observations with traditional beliefs: e.g., are earthquakes caused by the four elements? What are their warning signs and types? Why do subterranean fires and odd natural phenomena precede and plagues follow earthquakes? How do earthquakes affect the sea? ‘Del terremoto’ suggested that earthquakes were caused by underground exhalations escaping under the reaction of the heat of the sun and the earth. The final section is devoted to collateral seismic effects, including tsunamis (‘the sea rises and swells and floods whole provinces’), the formation of new mountains, higher mortality and plagues generated by the poisonous exhalations long trapped underground. The well- documented Ferrara earthquake generated widespread debate in Europe, leading to the development of the earliest examples of quake-proof architecture. Maggio’s work was translated into French in 1575 and remained influential in seismological studies throughout
the C17.

USTC 839587; BM STC It., p. 403. Not in Brunet, Graesse, Honeyman or Riccardi.


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Missal, Use of Rouen, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[Normandy (almost certainly Rouen), first decades of fifteenth century]


Large 8vo, 210 x 137mm, 305 leaves (plus a modern vellum endleaf at each end), wanting 2 leaves from the Calendar (those remaining for May/June, July/August, September/October and November/December), a quire after eighteenth gathering, and a leaf or so from end, collation: i4, ii-xvi8, xvii6 (but with continuous text), xviii-xxiv8, xxv7 (last a blank cancel), xxvi-xxxix8, some traces of original foliation (partly trimmed away and mostly visible at end, with last leaf as fol. “cccxix”), catchwords, double column of 32 lines in a fine late gothic bookhand, pale red rubrics, music on occasional leaves in 4-line red staves, small initials in burnished gold on blue and pink grounds heightened with white penwork, larger initials in same colours and enclosing sprays of coloured foliage, all on burnished gold grounds and terminating in sprays of rinceaux foliage with coloured fruit buds and gold leaves, most leaves marked up in upper right hand corner for relevant feasts of liturgical year in less formal contemporary hand, major text breaks with very large initials in same with text frames formed from coloured and gold bars, with sprays of coloured acanthus leaves at their corners and midpoints, remaining sections of full or three-quarter decorated borders filled with rinceaux foliage with flower heads and gold leaves. First 94 leaves cut down with outer vertical blank borders trimmed away, small rodent damage to outer edge in one place (but with little affect to edges and no affect to text), old water damage in places with some cockling and signs of shine-through (making some leaves hard to read), edges slightly trimmed with losses to outer blank edges of borders, some scuffing and discolouration to end leaves and important openings (presumably from having lain open on an altar at these points), in green vellum over pasteboards


Manuscripts from Normandy are far from common, and those so securely localisable during their initial wanderings even less so. This volume contains a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Temporal Masses for the entire year according to the use of Rouen (“secundum rothom’”) from advent onwards (fol. 5r), including the Canon of the Mass (fols. 122v and 124r) and a Litany. This is followed by the Sanctoral (fol. 193r; “in ecclesia rothomag’”) and votive masses, ending imperfectly with Masses for the Nativity.


Almost certainly written and illuminated for use in Rouen in Normandy in the opening decades of the fifteenth century. The Calendar has one of the patron saints of the region: St. Samson of Dol (28 July), as well as a number of saints and entries whose presence points strongly to Rouen: SS. Mellonius (22 October, in red and named “Roth’ arch’”, ie. archbishop of Rouen [Latin: Rotomagus]), Romanus (23 October, also in red and named “Roth’ arch’”), Evodus (8 October and translation in July, and named “Roth’ arch’” on both occasions), Ouen of Rouen (24 August and translation in May), Gildard and Medard, bishops of that city (8 June) and an entry in early December concerning the relics of the cathedral there. The volume appears to have moved with an early and perhaps the original owner to either Liseux (or just perhaps Bayeux) within decades of being created. The entry for May contains a near-contemporary addition of a feast of St. Regnobert, the seventh-century bishop of Bayeux, and legendary founder of four churches in Caen. This cannot be the saint’s main feast as that is on 24 October, but must commemorate the translation of his remains from the Church of Saint-Exupère de Bayeux to the Church of Saint-Victor-d’Épine in the diocese of Lisieux (a subsidiary of Bayeux) in 846.


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Book of Hours, Use of Angers, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[northern France (probably Paris, perhaps Angers), c. 1510]


8vo, 155 x 112mm, 101 leaves (plus two original endleaves at back), complete, collation: i6, ii-xii, xiii7 (last leaf a cancelled blank), foliated in blue ink (probably in seventeenth or eighteenth century), single column of 30 lines in a squat and angular professional bookhand, small initials in liquid gold on square blue and red-brown grounds (some 2-line ones enclosing flowerheads picked out in gold paint), with linefillers in same, ten large initials marking each major break in text (7 to 10 lines in height) in soft purple bars encased within ribbon-like curls all edged with white penwork, on dull gold grounds enclosing realistic foliage sprays terminating in flowerheads and strawberries, each initial within a coloured frame heightened with liquid gold penwork and with a decorated outer border of gold and coloured acanthus leaves and foliage on blank parchment or dull gold grounds, occasional text leaves with similar decorated text borders, single half-page arch-topped miniature opening the Hours of the Virgin, framed with a thin gold bar, full decorated border as previous, slight flaking of paint from Virgin’s robe and angel’s face, slight scuffing to borders in a few places, last few leaves slightly cockled,but overall in good and presentable condition.; contemporary French binding of tooled brown leather over wooden boards (these weathered and crackled, and boards re-edged and spine rebacked), two working metal clasps


The volume contains a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Passion readings from the Gospel of John (fol. 7r) and prayers including the “Egressus est dominus …”, “Ave mundi spes maria …” and “Saluto te sancta virgo …”; the Hours of the Virgin (fol. 14r), with Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers and Compline; the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 30r) followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 40r; Use of Angers) followed by prayers and suffrages to saints.


The single miniature in this volume is that of the Annunciation to the Virgin, in which the high dome-like heads of the figures, as well as their ivory-white skin-tones and the close composition of the scene, show the strong influence of the royal court artist Jean Bourdichon (1457/49-1521), whose style dominated the art of the northern French elites throughout the first half of the sixteenth century.

What is remarkable here, and unlike most other Books of Hours, is the influence of French Renaissance decoration in the larger initials and script which would be more at home in a grand illuminated text manuscript (cf. the contemporary Haimo of Auxerre, Expositio in epistolas Pauli, made for Jean Budé, royal secretary: sold in Sotheby’s, 29 June 2007, lot 37, then Les Enluminures, cat. 15, France 1500, no.16). This opulent art style was brought to France by François Ier from Italy, and popularised by his court as part of a programme to plant “une nouvelle Rome” on French soil.


1. Written and illuminated in High-Renaissance style during the period in which the extravagant patronage of François Ier and his court established the French Renaissance as an art movement in itself. The commissioner was from Angers in Central France (both uses of Hours of the Virgin and Office of the Dead in that form), but the decoration, the presence of SS. Genevieve and Denis in red in the Calendar, and the history of the book, all suggest an origin in Paris. The last pages, originally blank, have sixteenth-century devotional material added to them as well as the apparent signature “De Nully”(?) of that date.

2. Thence donated to the library of the royal Abbey of Saint-Antoine, Paris (also Saint-Antoine-des-Champs-lèz-Paris; see H. Bonnardot, L’Abbaye royale de Saint-Antoine des Champs de l’ordre de Cîteaux 1882, and É. Raunié, ‘Abbaye royale de Saint-Antoine-des-Champs’, in Épitaphier du vieux Paris, 1890): their seventeenth- or eighteenth-century ownership inscriptions at head and sides of first leaf of Calendar, “Ex Libris Domus S. Antonii Parisiensis”; they also owned a thirteenth-century Gospel Book, now Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS. 613, but otherwise books from their library appear to be rare. The absence of St. Anthony suggests that the book was made for a patron outside of this community and then given to it later. The abbey was founded by the mid-twelfth century as a community of Cistercian women, following preaching by the reformer Foulques de Neuilly at a chapel dedicated to St. Anthony just outside the eastern gate of Paris – the present suburb of the city named Faubourg St Antoine grew up around them and is based on their estates. The house came under royal protection and enjoyed the patronage of wealthy citizens of Paris and leading members of the university there, and by the end of the Middle Ages it was one of the wealthiest female communities within the Cistercian Order. It was suppressed in 1790, and its goods and chattels dispersed.


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Book of Hours, of unknown use (perhaps Amiens), in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment

[France (probably Amiens), second quarter of the fifteenth century (probably c. 1430)]


8vo, 180 by 136mm, 111 leaves (plus 3 paper endleaves at front and one at back), wanting a number of single leaves and offices from the Hours of the Virgin (see below), collation: i7 (endleaf at front cut away), ii2 (bifolium with additional material), iii4 (wanting at least outer bifolium), iv4 (wanting at least inner bifolium), v7 (miniature on tipped in singleton), vi6, vii8 (with two miniatures on added singletons), viii5 (miniature on added singleton, and wanting i), ix7 (with two miniatures on added singletons), x7 (miniature on added singleton), xi6, xii7 (miniature on added singleton), xiii-xiv6, xv8, followed by 21 original leaves now filled with additional devotional material, including 2 stubs after fol. 93, single column, 20 lines of a rounded gothic bookhand, capitals touched in yellow, red rubrics, one line initials in blue or liquid gold with elaborate contrasting penwork which trails into the margin with long whip-like tails, larger initials in gold on blue and pink angular-edged grounds, two very large initials ‘O’ opening the ‘O intemerata’ and ‘Obsecro te’ prayers in burnished gold on bicoloured grounds heightened with white penwork and ending in innermost margin in a gold and coloured text bar extending the height of the column, both upper and lower margisn filled with profuse floral border of thin rinceaux foliage terminating in gold leaves, realistic coloured flower heads and sprays of acanthus leaves, eight double page openings with a full-page miniature on the right set within an arched topped coloured frame and with an expansive burnished gold ground (some heightened with fine yellow brushstrokes), that facing a large initial in blue or pink enclosing foliage and set on burnished gold grounds, the following text within a text frame of gold and coloured bars on three sides, and both pages with full floral borders of sprays of acanthus leaves (some mirrored and enclosing panels of pounced gold leaf reminiscent of the Parisian work of the Bedford Master), rinceaux foliage terminating in simple gold leaves and more realistic coloured flower heads, some crackling to gold and slight flaking of paint in places, else in excellent condition, endleaves at front with attached late fifteenth-century devotional woodcut image of demons carrying human souls into the torments of Hell or stoking the flames of a hellmouth with bellows, as well as a small circular pilgrim badge (marks left by others once attached there, but now wanting),the back pastedown with a similar devotional woodcut of the Coronation of the Virgin marked “Nürnberg c. 1480?” in early twentieth-century pencil, loosening from binding in places.; nineteenth-century brown leather over pasteboards, with single floral rollstamp and a central board filled with chevrons, somewhat scuffed on some surfaces, all within fitted brown leather slipcase, lined with marbled paper, and with strange mixed-language inscription “Book of Heures / Made for the use of the church of Amiens / circa 1410” gilt-tooled on spine in floral and chainlink compartments.


The volume comprises a Calendar (fol. 1v) preceded by devotional material listing the Deadly Sins in French at the foot of fol. 1r; Hymns and Gospel readings (fol. 8r); the Hours of the Virgin, now including Lauds (fol. 23r), Prime (fol. 32r), Terce (fol. 38r), Sext (fol. 40r), Vespers (fol. 44r), and Compline (fol. 51r); the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 55r), followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 67r); the O intemerata (fol. 89r), and Obsecro te (fol. 91r). The leaves after fol. 93 comprise early additions to the volume of prayers indicating a Franciscan Use (to SS. Francis, Anthony of Padua, and Clare, among others) as well as more general subjects such as “contre le pestilence” (fol. 102v: ‘against the plague’). Here a small devotional printed image of the Virgin and Child has been loosely enclosed in the book. The book ends with the ‘Seven Os’.


The complex borders around the miniatures with their thin rinceaux foliage and gold infill within sections marked off by mirrored crisscrossing plant tendrils shows a clear debt to the work of the influential Parisian workshop of the Bedford Master. This is entirely in keeping with the artistic influences of Amiens after the fall of Paris to the English armies around 1420 and the exodus of artists from there to surrounding cities (see S. Nash, Between France and Flanders, 1999, on this, especially chs. 1, 3-4). The modelling of the figures and their simple but expressive facial features might also fit well within contemporary Amiens, but the wide burnished gold grounds behind each scene (some with yellow fronds painted over) and orange and soft-pink frames point westwards into the Low Countries. 

The large miniatures comprise: (1) fol. 22v, the Kiss of Judas; (2) fol. 31v, Christ before Pilate; (3) fol. 35v, the Tormenting of Christ; (4) fol. 39v, Christ carrying the Cross; (5) fol. 44v, the Deposition from the Cross; (6) fol. 52v, Christ being laid in his tomb; (7) fol. 54v, Christ seated in Judgement as the dead rise from their graves; (8) a funeral service, held over a coffin.


1. The volume was most probably produced in Amiens in the decades after the Bedford Master’s domination of Parisian illumination (fl. 1415-1435). The Calendar contains an appeal in red ornamental capitals to St. Fuscianus/Fuscien (11 December), the third-century missionary and martyr who proselytised among the Gallic tribe of the Morins and was beheaded just outside of Amiens. However, its commissioner may have had contacts further afield to the west, and despite the inscription on the modern case, the surviving readings for Prime (antiphon: “Assumpta est …” and capitulum: “Que est ista …”) do not agree with those recorded for Amiens, and the localisable saints take us into modern Belgium (note SS. Lambert, 17 September, and Hubert, 3 November, both of Liège, in the Calendar; and see ‘illumination’ section below). Medieval Amiens was a wealthy and splendid city. In 1471, Louis XI described it as “une des meilleures, plus anciennes, somptueuses, notables et puissantes villes du Royaume”. It sat on the border of the opulently wealthy nations of France and the Burgundian Netherlands, and exploited this position to its fullest affect, supplying administrators and courtiers to both from its aristocracy, as well as using its site on the crossing of the River Somme to concentrate international trade between Flanders, northern France and England, within its walls. It had an estimated population of 20,000 in 1500, making it one of the largest cities in the French kingdom, and had twelve churches, ten monasteries and religious institutions, as well as at least nine chapels. Numerous libraire, book producers and illuminators are recorded in the town, executing commissions for these institutions as well as the powerful échevinage, the town council, who regularly commissioned works of art and illuminated manuscripts for the churches of the town and for presentation to visiting nobles. This book may have been commissioned as just such a noble gift, or by a wealthy bourgeois traveller.

The original owner’s grasp of Latin may have been weak, and a near-contemporary hand has translated the names of the months and many titles of feasts in the Calendar into French, while another fine calligraphic inscription of about the same date adds the French devotional verse: “Chaste est plus belle / humilitie plus leure / et charite est la mileure” to blank space at the foot of fol. 7v.

2. The book was still in French-speaking ownership when the apparent motto “Courtois” was added in the seventeenth century at the end of the text, but by the late eighteenth century had passed into German hands, receiving a page of descriptive notes in that language dated 1777 on its back paper endleaf.

3. Edward A. Woods (d. 1927), bibliophile of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, USA, who owned an extensive collection of printed books and commissioned a number of fine private printings of texts in the second decade of the twentieth century from the Mosher Press (including A. Pebody’s translation of Cicero, De Amicitia, R.L. Stevenson’s Will O’ the Mill and Tennyson’s In Memoriam in 1913, 1915 and 1920): his early twentieth-century engraved heraldic bookplate with the motto “Virtus vera nobilitas est” and the handwritten additions “091” and “MSL 5”, pasted to front paper endleaf. 


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Choirbook, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[Italy (probably Florence), thirteenth or early fourteenth century]


Folio. 320 x 240 mm. 40 leaves (plus a paper endleaf at front and back), wanting single leaves throughout and at end, collation: i9 (wants ix), ii7 (wants xii, xiv-xv), iii-iv10, v4 (last two leaves cut away), single column of 6 lines of text with music on a 4-line red stave (rastrum: 21 mm.), paragraph marks in blue, red rubrics, reading numbers and original folio numbers in roman numerals in blue and red in margins, initials in red or blue with ornate scrolling penwork, the largest of these in variegated red and blue and containing sections of densely packed red and blue penwork, single large initial ‘R’ in blue, red, green and pink acanthus leaves bound together by coloured and burnished gold bands, all on burnished gold grounds, acanthus leaf fronds extending into two margins enclosing gold fruit and a roundel with a personal device (apparently one of the nails from Christ’s Cross in red and silver on black grounds), some small seventeenth- or eighteenth-century marginal additions, cracking to paint of initial in places and small losses, edges of leaves slightly scuffed and thumbed with some small losses to ink in places, lower corners repaired in places, damage worse to cockled leaves at back, tooled with floral rollstamps over early perhaps original sixteenth century leather wooden boards, four brass bosses on each board, tears to surface of leather and tears and repairs to spine, front board slightly detached from book-block at head inside front board. 


This is a single volume from a series of choirbooks, containing the relevant parts of the office from the First Sunday in Advent to the Feast of St. Aegidius (1 September), followed by readings for the consecration of a church.


The probable origin of the illumination in Florence, as well as the apparent depiction of the Holy Nail in the roundel above the principal illuminated initial, suggests this choirbook was produced for use in the Duomo there. Since the Middle Ages, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, was one of three sites to claim ownership of one of the three nails of the Crucifixion (the others being Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, and the Cathedral of Saint Peter, Trier; but note that such claims must be taken with a pinch of salt, as records exist of some thirty institutions who claimed to own Holy Nails or substantial parts of them). Cosimo Minerbetti, archdeacon of the Duomo in the opening years of the seventeenth century described it in detail, alongside a thorn form the Crown of Thorns, the thumb of St. John the Baptist, the elbow of St. Andrew the Apostle and entire corpses of SS. Zanobius and Podius. There the relic was housed in a reliquary on an altar commissioned by the Medici family. Members of this paramount Renaissance family from Lorenzo di’ Medici (reigned 1449-92) onwards, as well as the numerous artists and intellectuals they patronised such as Botticelli and the puritanical preacher Savonarola, must have gazed upon the relic and perhaps this volume among others, during their procession around the cathedral during Masses.


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Portable Psalter, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[Germany (northern Saxony, perhaps Hildesheim) or the adjacent Rhineland, late thirteenth century]


109 x 83 mm. 240 leaves (plus 2 paper endleaves at front and back), wanting a few single leaves, collation: i6, ii11 (i a singleton with large illuminated initial), iii-xi10, xii-xiv8, xv10, xvi-xxi8, xxii9 (last probably a singleton), xxiii7 (i and vii wanting), xxiv8, xxv7, xxvi8, xxvii12, modern pencil foliation, single column of 16 lines in 2 sizes of an angular gothic bookhand, capitals in barbed penstrokes and touched in red, red rubrics, simple initials in red or blue with ornate contrasting penwork, crucial Psalms marked with chunky gold or silver initials with coloured penwork (the silver now oxidised, and one gold with perhaps later blue grounds added as well as clumsy red penwork in margins), frontispiece with single full-page initial ‘B’ in beige acanthus leaves ending in orange and red leaves, all on burnished gold grounds and within frame of blue and red penwork, facing initial page with 4 lines of text in painted white capitals (“[B]eatus / vir qu/i non / abiit”) on blue and red panels these separated by silver panels, the paper endleaves at front with seventeenth or eighteenth-century devotional additions and an eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century short description of volume, silver panels causing shine-through to reverse of fol. 8, some small signs of wear and a few small holes (some with traces of contemporary repairs), trimmed by a few mm. at head, overall in good and solid condition, later leather over pasteboards (probably over earlier binding structures, including 3 large double thongs at spine and reused manuscript fragments: see above), cracking and wear at spine, thongs split between some gatherings (exposing some small strips of late medieval manuscript reused on spine during binding) and becoming loose, remnants of two clasps.

Text and illumination

This fine and early liturgical volume contains a Calendar, followed by a Psalter (fol. 8r), ending with a Litany (fol. 225v), Canticles, prayers and other devotional readings. The text ends with a Latin prayer for the souls of the faithful departed: “Fidelium anim[a]e per misericordiam dei requiescant in pace amen”.


1. The original owner of the volume was most probably a member of a female monastic community in northern Saxony (perhaps in Hildesheim) or the adjacent Rhineland: appeals for the benefactors of a community in the Calendar might suggest their religious status, and St. Lambert of Maastricht-Liège (17 September) and SS. Ludger, apostle of Frisia and Saxony (26 March) as well as St. Godehard of Hildesheim (4 May) (the last also appearing in the Litany) strongly indicates that region. In the fifteenth century the volume was owned by a female supplicant named in the ex libris: “Iste liber pertinet Mechhildis […]” at the foot of the first leaf of the Calendar. Another near-contemporary inscription under the initial on fol. 7v names a “Maria Zara filia Joril[?]”, most probably a subsequent owner.

2. A. O. Tilly, his ex libris in an early nineteenth-century shaky hand on front pastedown.

3. Ernest E. Baker (1854-1931), FSA, of Aldwick Court, Somerset, local antiquary of Weston-Super-Mare: his late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century armorial bookplate pasted to back pastedown. Baker was the nephew of J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps (the latter the important Shakespeare scholar and notoriously most-loathed son-in-law of Sir Thomas Phillipps, suspected as a youth of stealing books from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, and numerous cuttings from elsewhere, and subsequently banned from Sir Thomas’ library; he and Sir Thomas’ daughter, Henrietta, eloped in 1842, leading Sir Thomas to refuse to see either Halliwell or his own daughter for the remaining thirty years of his life; Halliwell only taking Sir Thomas’ last name after the latter’s death in 1872). Baker was Halliwell’s executor and inherited a third of the Halliwell-Phillipps library in 1889. The majority of this was sold by auction on 1 July 1889 and 30 November 1891, with further items in Sotheby’s 1 July 1895, lots 666-679 (the collection detailed by a pamphlet issued by Baker himself, Halliwell-Phillipps library, notes on a portion which will be sold by auction, Weston-Super-Mare, 1889), but the charming manuscript volume here was retained by Baker, and it passed by descent to his grand-daughter, who dispersed the estate library. 


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