[LILLY, William, PARTRIDGE, John, after].


Manuscript, on paper, England, [mid- to third quarter of the 18th century].


Small 4to. 123 unnumbered ll., 12 blank. English MS, in brown ink, cursive hand, approx. 25 lines per page, Britannia watermark with countermark WD, outer margins single ink ruled, occasional numerical tables. A few early and final ll. a bit soiled, couple of lower outer corners frayed, light water stain or thumb mark to some lower margins, softened in places. A well-preserved ms. in contemporary vellum, single blind ruled, dust-soiled, some loss to lower edge, and at head and foot of spine, upper cover creased, hinges starting. Loose C18 ms. paper slip with inventory, further inventories (one dated 1819) to three ll., ms. ‘Octob 19, 1810 Mr Bagtham’ to rear pastedown.

A well-preserved, mysterious English ms. on judicial astrology—the fascinating relic of a provincial amateur’s engagement with what was, by the late C18, an art in decline, eventually eradicated by Victorian occultism. The orderly layout, clear handwriting and plain binding suggest these were notes taken for private study. During the decline spanning the first half of the C18, astrology had come to be closely associated with a ‘scandalous’ art and forms of ‘quack’ medicine, so much so that practitioners did not associate themselves publicly with their studies. It thus lost the prestige it had enjoyed in the C17 as a discipline per se, when it elicited the interest of scholars like Newton and Boyle. ‘There are definitely some facets of the art which had fully disappeared by the 1720s but which in the last decades of the C18 emerged again. Of fundamental importance […] was the revival of works […] intended to teach the art of astrology to those unversed in it. After 1780 these works started to be published and distributed again, demonstrating that the art had again achieved enough public prominence among the literate to cause some to be interested in learning its practice’ (Clements, 117). Among these was ‘The Young Student’s Guide in Astrology’ (1785) by George Mensforth, who wrote it because he was ‘sensible of the great difficulty of obtaining books of good authors on […] Astrology (and those at a very high price when met with)’.

This ms. notebook was clearly produced to obviate to this scarcity—no earlier than the mid-C18 (as per watermark) but before the 1780s revival. The author i.a. painstakingly transcribed over 200pp., many from vols 1 and 3 of ‘Christian Astrology’ (1647) by the famous William Lilly (1602-81), with additional excerpts from ‘Defectio Geniturarum’ (1697) by John Partridge (1644-1714), a most prominent and controversial astrologer c.1700. Lilly and Partridge were practitioners with business premises and a wide-ranging clientele, and were much requested for horoscopes; their almanacs also advertised their medical treatments. The focus of the notebook is on nativities (horoscopes) and judicial astrology, with detailed methods to calculate ‘the effects of Directions, Revolutions, Profections, and Transits’, and discussing ‘those generall Accidents which in a natural course depend upon the signification of the 12 Houses of Heaven’. The author engaged critically with late C17 debates on horoscopes, inserting passages from Partrige’s ‘Defectio Geniturarum’ (1697), which epitomised the latter’s critical change of mind concerning traditional horoscope methodology. Selected excerpts from Lilly include theories and calculations of directions (the occurrence of good or bad accidents, e.g., predictions of the best time to marry or a time of danger and death); profections (the prioritization of specific planetary transits, their projected advancement and consequences thereof); bodily infirmities (weak sight, ‘defects in the ears’, ‘impediments of the tongue’, kidney conditions, ‘madness’, stones, gout); family fortunes (how many servants, how much cattle); and predictions on future travels.

In 1810-19, this notebook was being used by a London merchant to register accounts for the sale of hay and coal, in a tentative spelling, to a Mary Huxley, a Mr Graves and a Mr Bagtham.

J. Clements, ‘The intellectual and social declines of alchemy and astrology, c.1650-1720’ (unpublished PhD, University of York, 2017).


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Grida sopra il datio Della Carne, Pesce, & Oglio & dell’Estrattione de gl’Animali.

Modena, Per Giulian Cassiani Stampator Ducale, 1636.


FIRST EDITION. Single sheet, 43 x 32cm. Roman letter. Woodcut arms of Francesco I d’Este as Duke of Modena and Reggio, decorated initial. Uniform light browning, edges uncut, a little dusty, horizontal centre fold. An exceptionally well-preserved copy, ‘80’ pencilled to upper blank margin.

An exceptionally well-preserved (and probably the only surviving) copy of the first edition of this ‘grida’ concerning taxes imposed on meat, fish, oil and their export. The ‘gride’ were ordnances or edicts issued by the authorities, which were then ‘gridate’ (declaimed loudly) by criers in squares to inform citizens. The present was issued to provide partial relief to the ducal coffers after difficult years including the plague of 1630-1, which killed over 40% of Modena’s inhabitants, and the Thirty Years’ War. By September 1636, when the ‘grida’ was issued, Modena had first been prey to winter raids of grain and fodder by the French troops lodged in Parma, and had then participated in the invasion of Parma alongside the Spanish troops. The ‘grida’ sought ‘extraordinary help’ due to the ‘excessive expense caused by the ongoing wars’. It forbad, within the walls of Modena, the killing of ‘oxen, cows, beeves, calves, goats, kids, lambs, sheep, pigs and gelding’ anywhere but in public slaughterhouses, at the price of 4 quattrini a pound to be paid to the taxman. Fines for transgressors included the seizing of the animals, and a payment of 50 or 25 scudi, according to the size of the animal; the ‘snitch’, if there was one, retained anonymity. Exempt was the killing for family use of pigs, kids or lambs, which had not been bought or acquired by exchange, or their killing (by anyone, except butchers) at Easter, from Good Friday to the Resurrection. Any sale or transport of oil as well as live or dead, salted or unsalted fish was subject to 6 quattrini a pound. For everyone the export, from the Duchy to or through foreign states, of the abovementioned animals plus poultry, and derived products, including ‘dead meat’ like salame or sausages, was also banned. Exemption existed for shepherds, though they had to request a license. The ‘grida’ included a list of fines, in Bolognini, for the export of poultry—i.e., peacocks, geese, capons and pigeons. It was printed by the ‘stampatore ducale’ Giuliano Cassiani. An esteemed printer of literary and legal works, as ‘stampatore ducale’ he ‘monopolised the printing of all government acts, including grida and bandi’; he also printed the first Modenese newspaper, ‘Avvisi’, first published in 1648 (Pugno, ‘Trattato’, 90).

No recorded copies in major institutional catalogues or bibliographies.

Saggio di una bibliografia di Modena, p.269. Not in EDIT16, USTC, Simon, Oberlé, Bitting or Vicaire. G.M. Pugno, Trattato di cultura generale nel campo della stampa (1968).


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Prophéties perpetuelles depuis 1521 jusquà la fin du monde.

Manuscript, on paper, France, 1680 [but early 1700s].


Small 4to. 75 unnumbered ll. French MS, in black ink, ronde hand, approx. 15 lines per page, Garden of Holland Pro Patria watermark, initials with pen flourishing. T-p minimally toned, remargined at foot, slight yellowing. An excellent copy, on thick high-quality paper, in c.1700 mottled calf, spine gilt, gilt-lettered morocco label, a.e.g., two worm holes to upper joint and label, spine a little rubbed with small loss at head and foot, corners a bit bumped, upper hinge starting. C18 ms. shelfmark ‘n.1644 F. Tab. 1er D. Tab. 4’, C19 c.1800 printed ownership stamp ‘Huzard de l’Institut’ to t-p, C18 ms. ‘ad libitum’ and ‘a eté vendu 10 a linventaire de Mr Delajonchère’ to rear fep.

An excellent ms., on thick high-quality paper, of this fascinating work—a meteorological perpetual calendar from 1521 to the end of the world, and an agricultural almanac, with numerous observations on wine. It was prepared in 1680 by the Académie des Sciences for François-Michel Le Tellier (1641-91), Marquis de Louvois, Secretary of War under Louis XIV. In the preliminaries, the work is attributed to the mysterious Neapolitan philosopher Joseph le Juste, frequently listed, in C18 French prophetic collections, alongside Pythagoras and Nostradamus. ‘The figure of Joseph Le Juste was already present in prophetic literature and almanacs. […] the biblical Joseph, who interpreted dreams, who had received a revelation from an angel concerning the prediction of good and bad days’ (Halbron, ‘Vaticinations’, 2014). The Académie had allegedly collected the prophecies which had passed their tests, hence were deemed ‘infallible and truthful’—a witty fiction (‘Journal de

Paris’, 1807, 445). After a brief introduction on seasonal time, the work provides a meteorological perpetual calendar, in 28-year cycles, suggesting best practices in agriculture, fishing and cloth manufacture in relation to the weather. Great attention is paid to wine-making, with St Jean, Rochelle, Soitou, Auxerre and Champagne being the most profitable, resistant and tasty wines, and to the wine trade, with observations on the fluctuations of prices according to the quality of the harvest, the supply of specific wines and the effect of the surrounding economic situation on good or bad harvests. Fodder, rye, grain, cattle and wool are also discussed, with suggestions on how to avoid losing money by foreseeing demand and supply thanks to the almanac. Louvois himself owned numerous estates, with complex gardens and water pipes.

A contemporary reviewer of the 1807 printed edition doubted whether the Académie ever offered the ms. to Louvois. In fact, the only recorded institutional copy in the US may even be the presentation copy, with Louvois’s illuminated coat of arms on the t-p, now at UC Davis. The few others recorded (e.g., Cochran, ‘Catalogue’, 1837, n.237; Uni Strasbourg, Ms.0.556) were copied from this, probably upon request of members of the Académie. The watermark of this copy dates it probably to the early C18 (Churchill, ‘Watermarks’, n.130), like the Strasbourg copy. A ms. note suggests that it was sold from the inventory of M. De la Jonchère, arguably M. Lescuyer de la Jonchère, academician, topographer and hydrographer in the 1710s (‘Le journal des sçavans’, 192; ‘Histoire De L’Academie’, 555). It was later in the library of Jean-Baptiste Huzard (1755-1838), a French veterinary doctor, himself a member of the Académie and later the Institut. His large library comprised over 40,000 volumes, many on natural science; the present was lot 5507 in the catalogue ‘Bibliothèque Huzard’ (Part I) (1843).

Only UC Davis copy recorded in the US.


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Dala’il al-Khayrat, illuminated manuscript in Arabic on polished paper

Ottoman Turkey, first half of nineteenth century


Sm. 8vo, 175 by 120mm., 97 leaves plus two later flyleaves at each end, complete, text-block in single column throughout, 11 lines scribal black naskh per page, illuminated head-piece opening the text with gilt and polychrome decorations, opening two leaves with gilt borders and interlinear colouring of pounced gilt decorations, polychrome headings opening sections of the text throughout, two full-page coloured illustrations of Mecca and Medina, verses marked throughout by gilt roundels, leaves ruled in gilt, red and blue, some very small smudges, one blank upper outer corner repaired, erroneous inscription dating the manuscript to 1050 AH at the end of the text, twentieth-century bookplate of “Pamela and Raymond Lister” to upper pastedown. In fine red morocco boards with flap, covers decorated with three-piece central medallion of inlaid green leather, embossed with spiralling gilt decorations, covers ruled and tooled in gilt, spine and crease of flap repaired, lightly rubbed in places, housed in custom red cloth drop-box.

A popular collection of Sunni prayers and blessings dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad for the purposes of daily recitation. The text was compiled by the Moroccan Sufi leader al-Jazuli in the fifteenth century and is commonly considered the earliest collection of liturgies in Islamic history dedicated entirely to the Prophet. Manuscript copies of the text often feature the double-page illustrations of Mecca and Medina which sometimes depict the tombs of Prophet Muhammad and the Caliphs. The inclusion of illustrations is unusual for Islamic manuscripts as the Muslim tradition generally condemns iconography, and the illustrations in this text are a break from that common principle. The 99 names of Allah and 100 names of the Prophet are also common additions, the latter present in this copy. Since al-Jazuli’s death in 1465, this prayerbook has become one of the most popular collection of daily prayers among Sunni muslim communities worldwide, and particularly throughout North Africa, the Levant, Turkey, and some areas of South Asia. 

This copy of the Dala’il al-Khayrat is a fine example of Ottoman manuscript production, skillfully illuminated and copied by the copyist named in the colophon. Hafiz Ahmed Aziz bin al-Zahidi was likely a court calligrapher, specialising in Qur’anic texts, whose neat and scribal naskh calligraphy are exemplified to a high standard in this manuscript. This particular copy was likely commissioned by a noble patron and produced in a skilled Ottoman workshop, for private use by the consignor. 

Manuscript from the collection of the late Pamela and Raymond Lister. Dr Raymond Lister founded the Golden Head Press and was notably the governor of the Federation of the British Artists during his lifetime.


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copied by scribe Ali bin Shahab al-Din, decorated manuscript in Arabic on polished paper

Safavid Persia, dated Jumada II 973 AH (December 1565 – January 1566 AD)


185 by 120mm., 216 leaves, complete, text in single column throughout, 14 lines of black naskh, headings and key word in red, catch-words throughout, marginal annotations throughout copied in both contemporary and later hands, early twentieth-century Persian export stamps to preliminary and penultimate leaves, large paper label to upper pastedown, in contemporary blind-stamped morocco, perhaps missing a flap, spine and outer extremities repaired in later morocco, paper label to spine, wear to covers.

One of the founding pillars of Islamic Fiqh – Islamic jurispudence based on divine law – is the ritual of purity and cleanliness. The faith determines that if impurities exist on the human body, the negative impacts of this on their health and mental state will pollute the soul. Therefore one of the methods of purification for the soul lies in the hygiene and cleanliness of the human body. This work outlines the methods by which muslims can practice ritual purity in their daily lives as outlines by the Shi’a understanding of Islamic jurisprudence. This Kitab al-Taharah (literally meaning the book of purification) is divided into multiple sections covering a wide range of topics including: ablution, tayammum (the Islamic ritual of dry purification using purified sand or dust), death washing rituals, and performing wudu (cleaning parts of the body in preparation for prayer).

The wide margins and informal annotations throughout this volume indicate that it was probably copied for practice in an Islamic school, likely connected to a mosque, during the reign of Shah Tahmasp I of the Safavid dynasty. The hand is not consistent with the formal scribal practices at the time, but has clearly been copied by a trained hand suggesting that the scribe here, Ali bin Shahab al-Din, was likely either a scholar himself or an educated student copying the text for personal use.

This volume was formerly part of the both the Hagop Kevorkian and Mohamed Makiya private libraries, these important twentieth-century collections of Islamic books and manuscripts.


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Sharh al-Mulakhas fi’Ilm al-Hay’a (a commentary on the Compendium of Cosmology), decorated manuscript in Arabic on polished paper

Region of Samarkand, likely last decades of fifteenth century


12mo, 170 by 95mm., 86 leaves (including 4 contemporary flyleaves), complete, text in single column throughout, 19 lines delicate black nasta’liq, some overlining and headings in red, numerous diagrams throughout the text also in red, contemporary annotations to margins, catch-words throughout, some very faint water-staining to extremities, a few early ownership annotations and stamps to preliminary and penultimate leaves, including some quatrains of Persian poetry, early eighteenth-century russet morocco with flap, centrally placed medallions stamped in blind to covers and flap, also ruled in blind, some staining and light wear to extremities.

Musa bin Muhammad Qazi Zadeh al-Rumi (d.1436), known simply as Qazi Zaheh, was an Ottoman astronomer and mathematician based in Samarkand. Qazi Zadeh was a celebrated scholar in his field and is best known for the Zij’i Sultani, his collaborative work with fellow astronomer and Govenor of Samarkand Ulugh Beg (d. 1449). Their treatise is considered the first truly comprehensive stellar catalogue containing over 900 stars and is still considered an important treatise in the field of cosmology today. During his career Qazi Zadeh also became the directory of the Samarkan educational observatory, built under the direction and patronage of Ulugh Beg, which became the centre for astronomical research and education in the region.

The present text is a commentary on Mahmoud ibn Muhammad ibn Umar al-Jaghmini’s influential astronomical text entitled Al-Mulakhas fi’Ilm al-Haya (Compendium of Cosmology) which was likely compiled in the early 13th century. Qazi Zadeh’s treatise both acts as a summary and commentary of Jaghmini’s text, dealing with the configuration of the celestial and territorial worlds combined (including the arrangement of Ptolemaic celestial orbs). These treatises are compiled in a simplified format to accommodate a wider scholarly community and thus explain cosmographic theories in basic elementary terms and target broad audiences. The approachable nature of this text meant it became particularly widespread, often copied alongside Jaghmini’s text, and was even used as a curriculum for schools in Ottoman regions. 

This particular manuscript was probably copied for personal use by a scholarly student. Though there are wide margins throughout (for annotation) the text itself is miniscule and copied in a very tight format, an economic solution for self funding copyist. The contemporary marginalia and ownership seals are in keeping with the Eastern regions of Timurid Persia, not far from Samarkand, and probably copied only a few decades after the author’s death. 


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Illuminated manuscript in Arabic on paper

Mamluk territories, probably Egypt, mid-fourteenth century


4to, 237 x 170mm., 53 leaves, the complete Juz’ Qala ‘alam (XVI), containing text from surah al-Kahf (18) verse 57 to surah Ta Ha (20) verse 135. Text in single column throughout, 7 lines fine scribal muhaqqaq script in black, some vocalisation in red, opening two pages with text-blocks framed within gold borders, each containing rectangular panels at the top with headings in white muhaqqaq against blue, green and orange arabesque designs, three circular medallions extending into the margins on each side, recto of first leaf with large circular device, heightened in gold with decorative rays extending outwards, two illuminated surah headings in the text, each with heading in white thuluth text against gold polychrome banners with circular device extending into the outer margins, verses marked throughout with gold roundels, each of these decorated with red and blue. Very scattered faint spotting, some blank outer corners repaired and a few small worm-holes to lower margins (not affecting text), overall very clean and attractive example, in eighteenth-century dark brown morocco, with three-medallion design to covers displaying floral pattern (a little rubbed), remains of hand-painted gilt decorations to medallions, borders ruled in gilt, covers a little scuffed, rebacked, corners repaired.

The Qur’an is divisible into 30 equal sections, sometimes copied into independent volumes, to facilitate readers to complete the entire text in one calendar month. Each of these sections is called a Juz’, a popular division of the Qur’an in North African territories, and considered a complete section of the Qur’an in itself. The text here was likely part of a wider set, in which all the 30 Juz’ were copied in the same hand and illuminated in a consistent style with one another. 

This manuscript contains Juz’ XVI of the Qur’an, known as Qala ‘alam, which is formed of three separate chapters: surah al-Kahf (from verse 57), the entirety of surah al-Maryam and surah Ta Ha (up to verse 135). These three chapters of the Qur’an include passages relating to Mryam and Isa (the Virgin Mary and Jesus in the Christian faith), God’s call to Moses, the Exodus of the Isralites and the crossing of the Red Sea. 

This is an early example of a Mamluk Qur’anic Juz’ dating back to the first period of the Mamluk Sultanate, known as the Bahri era (1250 – 1382), and is a notably fine example of its kind. The lavish illumination and quality of calligraphy exemplified in this manuscript indicate that it was copied for a member of the Mamluk courts, whose patronage of Islamic manuscripts was well established by this period. The border designs of the opening two leaves together with the style of script are distinctive in their styles and highly comparable to manuscripts produced in Egypt during the final decades of the fourteenth century. The script is spaciously laid out using only 7 lines to the page, which further indicates courtly or royal patronage, and the fine scribal muhaqqaq script is consistent and symmetrical throughout. 


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Dominican Use, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[southern Germany, 1476]


Sm 4to, 160 by 120mm, 197 leaves (plus 3 paper at each end), complete. Collation: i-xvii10, xviii9 (viii a cancelled blank), xix10, xx8, single column of 18 lines in a professional late gothic German bookhand, extensive music in square notation on 4-line red staves, a few capitals touched in red. Simple red or dark blue initials throughout, larger initials often with human faces skilfully picked out in penwork, one very large ornately decorated initial in blue heightened with white penwork on burnished gold grounds opening the first Psalm, borders of delicately scrolling coloured foliage terminating in pointed flowerheads. The remaining Psalms with similar sized initials in red or blue with contrasting geometric penwork, some with drollery animals (often with dog-like faces) left in blank parchment within their bodies, or in blue or pink on burnished gold with pink tessellated squares or coloured foliage within their bodies and acanthus leaf sprays in margin. Occasionally annotated by a sixteenth-century hand giving German names for festivals and holidays, markers at numerous leaf edges in form of simple folded tags to allow easy finding of certain readings, occasional flaking, in robust and good condition, on good and heavy vellum. In sixteenth-century German binding of ornately tooled calf over wooden boards, probably by Thomas Drechsler of Frankfurt, scuffed and bumps in places, a few small holes to boards and losses to spine, wanting one brass clasp, in folding box.


  1. 1.Most probably written for use by a Dominican from southern Germany, with SS. Dominic and Catherine of Siena repeated in the Litany, and Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Cunigunde pointing towards Bamberg, Sebald towards Nuremburg and Elizabeth of Hungary or of Thuringia towards Marburg. The volume is dated boldly in red medieval Arabic numerals “1476” at foot of text on last leaf.
  2. 2. As with many portable-sized Dominican books the volume seems to have travelled with an itinerant preacher, and by the mid-sixteenth century was in Frankfurt, where it was rebound with toolmarks of repeating rolls of saints above cartouches holding the text “Tu es Petrus et” (Matthew 16:18), “Apparuit benignitas” (Titus, 3:4), “Ecce Agnus Dei” (John 1:29) and “Data est mihi o[mnis]” (Matthew 28:18) identical to those on an Avicenna owned by Adam Lonicer bound by the Frankfurt master-binder Thomas Drechsler in or after 1560 (now Sibbald Library, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; see also article on this binding in Journal of the Royal College of Physicians, 41, 2011, pp. 278-80) and a Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum published in Frankfurt by the heirs of Christian Egenhoff in 1582 (Princeton, RA775 .xR4 1582). It was likely in the possession of a Dominican of that city, and part of the library of the Dominikanerkloster there. That house was founded in 1233, and by the fourteenth century was the largest ecclesiastical presence in the city, serving as the site for royal coronations in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was significantly expanded in the fifteenth century with the construction of an enclosed cloister. It was suppressed in 1803, and its goods and library dispersed by the city authorities over the next decade or so. The remaining medieval structures were destroyed by bombing in 1944.
  3. 3.The present volume seems to have remained in ecclesiastical use until at least the eighteenth century (when a small slip with a liturgical reading in a hand of that date was inserted, and with contemporary ex libris marks of “101” and “H” added to its front endleaves). It was in English-speaking private hands by the early twentienth century (it includes a typed description in English on a slipped in card of that date).

Text and decoration:

The volume comprises: Prayers, including the Our Father, Hail Mary and Credo, and doxologies and invitatories (fols. 1r-4r); a Psalter (fols. 4r-167v), with noted responses, verses and antiphons, ff. 4-167v; the Ferial canticles (including Benedicite, Te Deum and Benedictus) and a Litany (fols. 167v-186r); a set of 9 oration prayers (fols. 186r-187r); and hymns and antiphons (fols. 184v-197r).

The wealth and variety of decoration here, as well as the charming motif of leaving grotesque drolleries suspended in blank vellum within the bodies of the initials are Germanic monastic features of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, seen also in a dispersed Austrian antiphoner once in the collection of Jakob Heinrich von Hefner-Alteneck (1811-1903; see Semenzato auction, 25 April 2003, lot 197, and more recently Bloomsbury Auctions, 2 July 2019, lot 57) and another Dominican Psalter probably from Nuremberg (sold in Bloomsbury Auctions, 8 July 2015, lot 87, £28,000 hammer).

A handsome and particularly charmingly decorated monastic choir book of the later Middle Ages.


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Al-Tashrih bi’l-Taswir [a treatise on human anatomy], illuminated manuscript in Farsi on fine polished paper

Timurid Persia, probably Shiraz, likely first half of fifteenth century


4to, 243 by 159mm., 23 leaves, text divided into three separate sections, apparently complete, text in single column throughout, 24 lines fine black nasta’liq with headings in red, opening of first section with rectangular panel above the text containing the blessing ‘Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim’ in large gold thuluth script set against a backdrop of spiralling vines, 5 full-page anatomical illustrations, each with red, blue and green additions, text-panels ruled in blue and gold, occasional scattered smudges or faint soiling, outer edges of leaves chipped with slight loss in places (not affecting text), some edges repaired, a few eighteenth-century inscriptions to recto of first leaf and verso of final leaf, bound in seventeenth century limp leather, painted gold or bronze, spine and edges strengthened, a little rubbed. 

Mansur bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Yusuf bin Faqir Ilyas, known simply as Mansur bin Ilyas, was a Persian physician from Shiraz known to have compiled a number of notable scientific treatises, including the Kifaya-i Mansuri (a trestise on medicine). The present text, also known as the Tashrih-i Mansuri, is his most important work, the earliest known text to include a coloured atlas of the human body in the Arabic world. 

The text was first commissioned by Fars politician and Muzazzarid ruler Zayn al-Abdin and is formed of six (or sometimes seven) independent sections including: an introduction followed by chapters relating to muscular, arterial, osseous and nervous systems, an appendix on the formation of the foetus and key compound organs. Most of these sections include an illustration depicting the full length of the human body in relation to these physical systems, the rarest of which is that depicting the foetus (present in this copy). This is a particularly important section of the work because contrary to popular opinion among both contemporary and pre-eminent physicians, Mansur bin Ilyas was of the opinion that the heart was the first compound organ to form in a foetus, and not the brain. This particular chapter of the text explains this theory and cites related arguments made by Aristotle, Hippocrates, Abu Bakr al-Razi and Hippocrates among others. 

This is a notably early example of the text. Though the definitive dates of the author’s life are unknown, he is thought to have flourished in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries: and the style of illumination and script present in this copy strongly suggest it was produced in the first half of the fifteenth century. Thus the present manuscript could well have been copied only a few decades after the author’s death, and likely produced in a similar region in central Persia, quite possibly in Shiraz where the author himself flourished. The large gilt illuminated heading at the opening of the text together with the style of scribal nasta’liq and paper quality all indicate a date of production in the first half of the fifteenth century. 

Despite the wide margins present, there are very few marginal annotations to the codex. This indicates that the manuscript was probably used by a practising doctor or physician as a reference work instead of use by a scholar in the field of medicine. The very light weight and soft binding also strongly suggest that the manuscript was designed to be carried by a doctor going about his practice. It would take up little space and be very easy to pack. The use of gold and illumination indicate that the manuscript may well have been commissioned for a physician of the royal Timurid courts. 


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Musical bifolium from an early noted Missal, decorated manuscript on vellum

[Italy, or perhaps southern France, early 13th-century]


Folio, each leaf 380 by 268 mm, recovered from reuse in a later binding, with most of single column of 9 remaining lines of text in a good angular liturgical hand, with pronounced fishtailing to ascenders and descenders, many extending these with hairline penstrokes for ornate visual effect, with accompanying music in neumes arranged around a red clef line, red rubrics, capitals in ornate penstrokes and touched in red, one large blue initial enclosed within red penwork, reused folded around boards of later binding, with staining and scuffs on outside, one large tear to edge of one leaf, overall fair and legible.

Containing readings for Palm Sunday, a prayer for the preservation of the Pope and a hymn, all to be chanted, with full musical notation for doing so.


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