Miniature Psalter-Hours, in Latin, manuscript on vellumMost probably Low Countries, 13th, and 15th centuries
68 by 47mm., 216 leaves, wanting all bar one leaf (parts of June and July remaining) from Calendar at front, leaves from the front of the main text (removing Psalms 1-9), as well as a few single leaves throughout and leaves from the end, collation: i1 (Calendar remnant), ii7 (i wanting), iii8, iv6, v-vii8, viii7 (vi cut to a stub), ix-xiii8, xiv6 (missing leaves revealed by stubs), xv16, followed by 101 uncollatable leaves (very thin parchment, split at the ends of each leaf and reinforced by side-stitching), a composite of two manuscripts of much the same size: (i) fols. 1-99, double column, 24 lines of an angular late gothic hand using a pen with a fat nib, red rubrics, small initials in red in low Countries style, larger initials in liquid gold on pink or blue grounds heightened with white, some with penwork foliage extensions into border terminating in leaves and tri-lobed flowers with blue and gold tips, occasional parts marked up at head of page in eighteenth-century hand for when to read, many initials somewhat scuffed and first leaf discoloured and hard to read, mid-fifteenth century; (ii) fols. 100-216, double column, 26 lines of a professional early gothic hand, capitals touched in red, red rubrics, Biblical passages underlined in red, initials in blue with red trailing penwork or red with dark blue penwork, traces of similar eighteenth-century marking up at head of page, slightly trimmed at top, last leaf with holes from ink used for initials and somewhat discoloured, thirteenth century; in late nineteenth-century black morocco over pasteboards with a cross in various colours within a double gilt fillet with red flowerbuds at its corners, gilt floral bars along inside turnups, marbled endleaves.
Text:This first part of this charming pocket volume contains a fifteenth-century manuscript of the Psalms (from 10 onwards), followed by a brief Litany, and to this has been appended an older, thirteenth-century copy of the monastic office (ends wanting). It was made on such a tiny scale, most probably in order to be kept by a member of a monastic congregation in a pocket or knapsack, and taken out to use in reciting the hours or in private devotion. An unusual miniature monastic compendium.Provenance:1. While the Calendar remnant and Litany show no clear localisations, the form of the red initials in the first part are those of the Low Countries and the small flowers which terminate the tendrils emerging from the illuminated initials there are close to those commonly used by Bruges book illuminators.2. Eighteenth-century pen additions of names “Salomon” and “Ducre” (fols. 85v and 158r), and “Charles Silliet(?)” (fol. 1r) pointing towards private ownership by that century.