Monthly Archives: April 2014

Manuscript Road Trip: The Show-Me State

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

Nobody really knows how Missouri came to be known as the “Show-Me State,” but I have my own interpretation of the state’s motto: Show me the manuscripts.

At last count, Missouri was home to 130 codices and 400 leaves in fifteen collections, most of which can be found on the I-70 corridor that runs across the state from Kansas City to St. Louis. Several of these are accessible through Digital Scriptorium: the University of Missouri – Columbia, Conception Abbey, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and St. Louis University. All of these collections have items worth pointing out, but I will focus on just a few: working map

U. Missouri - Columbia, Ellis Library, Special Collection, Fragmenta Manuscripta 1

U. Missouri – Columbia, Ellis Library, Special Collection, Fragmenta Manuscripta 1

The Ellis Library at the University of Missouri – Columbia owns a group of early fragments that once belonged to two collectors we have met before: Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792 – 1872) and Sir Sydney Cockerell  (1867-1962). In fact, these leaves can be traced back as far as British antiquarian and bookseller John Bagford (1650s – 1716), a remarkable provenance indeed. The Bible fragment at left dates from the mid-tenth century and is not even the earliest of the group. That honor goes to the extraordinary fragment of Gregory the Great’s Moralia in Job shown below, attributed by the great paleographer Bernard Bischoff to Germany (perhaps Hersfeld), ca. 800.

U. Missouri - Columbia, Ellis Library, Special Collections, Fragmenta Manuscripta 8

U. Missouri – Columbia, Ellis Library, Special Collections, Fragmenta Manuscripta 8

One of the most interesting features of this fragment, aside from its age, is that it is written in an Anglo-Saxon hand but is thought to have originated in a German abbey, a remarkable mingling of scribal practices.

The Llangattock Breviary (St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Pius XII Memorial Library, Special Collections,  VFL MS 2r)

The Llangattock Breviary (St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Pius XII Memorial Library, Special Collections, VFL MS 2r)

In the impressive collection of the Pius XII Memorial Library at St. Louis University are found five leaves of a masterpiece of Renaissance illumination, a manuscript known as the Llangattock Breviary. Commissioned for the use of Leonello d’Este (1407-1450), Marchese of Ferrara, the manuscript’s name comes from a later owner, John Allan Rolls (1837-1912), Baron of Llangattock. The manuscript was bought by Goodspeeds Bookshop (Boston) in 1958 and subsequently broken up to be sold in pieces. Leaves can be found today in many collections, including Harvard University, U.C. Berkeley, the American Academy in Rome, Michigan State Univ., Univ. of South Carolina, the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, Dartmouth College, the Museo Schifanoia in Ferrara, and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (Ms. Lat. 9473, fol. 2). Leaves continue to come up for sale on a regular basis (here and here, for example). This is a manuscript that would be well worth the effort of digital reconstruction, a project just getting underway at St. Louis University. In the same building, the Vatican Film Library serves as a repository for microfilm of more than 37,000 manuscripts and is also the home of the St. Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies and the journal Manuscripta, making SLU an extremely important center for manuscript studies in North America.

Several dozen manuscript leaves were purchased in the mid-twentieth-century by the St. Louis Public Library. Here’s how they got there:

In the 1950s, a bookdealer from Kansas City, Missouri named Frank Glenn, under the auspices of a The Grolier Society (publishers of the well-known Book of Knowledge encyclopedia for children), assembled an exhibit of tablets, manuscripts and printed books meant to demonstrate the History of the Book. This was nothing new; similar exhibitions had taken place before, with similar pedagogical goals. But Glenn’s was different. Instead of making visitors come to a stationary exhibit space, or packing and shipping the exhibit from one venue to the next, Glenn installed the exhibit in an aluminum trailer and took it on the road.

MSW kids Glenn toured dozens of cities and small towns around the U.S. and Canada over a period of several years, arranging tours for schools, churches and civic groups. The exhibit was called “The Magic Carpet on Wheels,” described in the accompanying pamphlet as “…a tribute to Johann Gutenberg,…The Magic Carpet on Wheels tells the story of The Miracle of the Book with more than 100 original specimens ranging from Sumerian cylinders of 2500 B.C. to fine examples of contemporary graphic arts. The exhibit is intended as a commemoration of the Gutenberg invention and as a tribute to those early scribes whose clay tablets, papyrus scrolls and illuminated manuscripts have been gathered here…Those who see these treasures will appreciate the personal qualities of love, pride and skill that have gone into writing and bookmaking for the 4,500-year period encompassed by the collection. The Grolier society hopes the items in the display will bring renewed interest and deepened understanding and appreciation of good books.”

MCW thanks The exhibit was a great success, if the dozens of thank-you notes archived by the St. Louis Public Library are to be believed: “We enjoyed going to the book exhibit. It is the first time our room has done that. We think that you explained everything real nicely. We also thought that it was well organized. / The things that we liked best was the hornbook because it was interesting to see what it looked like then, the music book, because it was so big and we don’t have anything like that today, and the beautiful backs of the books that had gold and other decorations on them. We also enjoyed finding out how the gold was polished in the illuminated letters. Sincerely yours, Pupils of McElroy Dagg School (North Kansas City, MO).”

Leaf from the Gottschalk Antiphonal (St. Louis Public Library, Grolier 44)

Leaf from the Gottschalk Antiphonal (St. Louis Public Library, Grolier 44)

Some of the single leaves in the exhibit were purchased from Otto Ege, apparently one of his “Original Leaves from Famous Bibles” sets. Most came from other sources, including Number 44, a leaf of particular interest to me as it turned out to have come from the twelfth-century antiphonal that was the subject of my doctoral dissertation (and my first book).

In 1956, the manuscript leaves were purchased by the St. Louis Public Library.

MGW trailer

Show me the manuscripts, indeed.

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Manuscript Road Trip: Toto, I have a Feeling we ARE in Kansas

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

If you’re going to travel the United States on a virtual manuscript road trip, Kansas is a must-see digital destination.

working mapThe jewel of the Midwest is the collection of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Images from more than 200 codices and leaves are available through Digital Scriptorium, including an important collection of charters and dozens of single leaves. With such riches to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin! Here are a few that caught my eye…

KSRL, MS 9/2:18 1r

KSRL, MS 9/2:18 1r

My first job as a manuscript cataloguer was at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, where there are hundreds of manuscript codices, leaves and fragments. That’s where I developed my taste for objects like the fragment at the right, the lower half of a leaf from an eleventh-century South German or Austrian antiphonal. The adiastematic neumes recorded between the lines of text are typical of the region and period; this notation functioned primarily as a mnemonic, with each symbol representing a particular series of relative tones and serving as a memory-jog for monks who had spent years memorizing the chants.

KSRL MS 9/2:20 recto

KSRL MS 9/2:20 recto

The antiphonal at left, also Germanic but written several hundred years later, shows very nicely the developments that had since taken place in musical notation. In this example, the notation could still be called neumatic, but now the neumes are placed on a staff that clearly shows their pitch, making them diastematic. The neumes are also showing signs of the “hufnagel” style that became prevalent in Germany (“hoof-nail,” named for the distinctive shape of the single-stroke neumes that look like small nails).

At right is one of two examples in the collection of Beneventan script, an eleventh-century fragment that includes part of what was once a lovely and colorful initial.

KSRL MS 9/2:27 recto

KSRL MS 9/2:27 recto

I find myself particularly drawn to fragments like the next two that clearly show how they were re-used in later bindings.

KSRL MS 9/2:31 recto

KSRL MS 9/2:31 recto

Below, this leaf from a tenth-century theological text was used as a “comb” support in the spine of a later binding, with the vertical strips surrounding the protruding cords and the trapezoidal section wrapping around onto the front or back cover. The piece would have been hidden by a leather cover and remained unknown until the book was repaired or re-covered. Below, several strips of a twelfth-century missal were retrieved from the binding in which they were used and reassembled into their original configuration.

KSRL MS 9/2:2 verso

KSRL MS 9/2:2 verso

I know fragments aren’t to everyone’s taste, and for those of you who like your manuscripts illuminated, the Spencer collection has plenty of art historical wonders to choose from.

The leaf below is a calendar page from what must have once been an exquisite late-fifteenth-century French Book of Hours. The two-column format is unusual for a calendar, allowing an entire month to fit on each side (here, September, with October on the verso).

KSRL MS C92 recto

KSRL MS C92 recto

In the vignettes at the top, we find a peasant sowing seeds, one of the traditional “labors” of September, while the scales at the right symbolize Libra. The calendar includes several unusual saints such as Godegrandus, Bishop of Senlis, on September 3 and Signus on September 19, but appears to have been written for the Use of Paris.

And finally, this full-page stunningly illuminated [B] begins the twelfth-century Chur Psalter, [B] being the first letter of the first word of the first Psalm, “Beatus vir”. The two compartments of the [B] are illustrated by the Holy Spirit descending from above in the form of a bird and, below, King David playing a harp.

KSRL MS C21

KSRL MS C21

I encourage you to explore the Spencer Center’s Digital Scriptorium records. I’ve only scratched the surface of a collection that is quite comprehensive in geographic, chronological and stylistic scope.

We’ll make a few more quick stops before leaving the state. There are a few leaves at the Spencer Museum of Art on the KU campus; search the collection database for “illuminated manuscript” to find them. The Sir John and Mary Craig Scripture Collection at the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth owns several dozen leaves that have not yet been digitized, and the Quayle Bible Collection at Baker University in Baldwin City owns several medieval manuscripts as well. Both collections were formed by collectors of strong Christian faith (Catholics John and Mary Craig for the former and Methodist Bishop William Alfred Quayle for the latter) who prized these manuscripts not just for their age and beauty but because of the sacred texts they transmitted.

Next week we’ll head eastward and spend some time in St. Louis.

 

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Manuscript Road Trip: Back to the Midwest

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

A few weeks ago, I took my 17-year-old son on a road trip to visit colleges in the Midwest. While the main purpose of the trip was to tour campuses, how could I resist a quick visit to a few Special Collections libraries? In Illinois, I had the great pleasure of spending time at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Rare Book and Manuscript Collection. My thanks to Library Director Valerie Hotchkiss,  Curator Anna Chen, and Graduate Assistants David Morris and Brian Davidson for their willingness to pull some highlights of the collection for me with very little advance notice.Midwest Road Trip The Library at UIUC has dozens of pre-1600 European manuscripts, including several important and fascinating specimens. I’ll go in chronological order…

UIUC Special Collections, MS 128, Bede (and others), Epigrams

UIUC Special Collections, MS 128, Bede (and others), Epigrams

First we have MS 128, a fragment from a tenth-century collection of Latin epigrams written in England that includes several epigrams attributed to Bede. The script is a beautiful example of insular minuscule, while the fragment itself is a classic piece of recycled parchment. You can easily see how the leaf was cut and folded to serve as a bookcover.

UIUC MS 128, detail

UIUC MS 128, detail

Few American collections own a specimen of this style of script, with its distinctive forked ascenders and deep f- s- and r-descenders. The leaf was purchased from New York dealer H. P. Kraus and 1959, and the students at UIUC are fortunate to be able to study it in situ.

When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, programmes like this were incredibly popular souvenirs of the ceremony: EII souvenir It turns out the idea of a “souvenir” recording a coronation ceremony goes back quite some time. In fact, the UIUC library has one from the fourteenth century. MS 124  commemorates the respective coronations of Charles IV, King of France (1322) and his queen Jeanne d’Evreux (1326). Like the QEII souvenir above, this manuscript is illustrated with various scenes from the occasion, such as the archbishop anointing the king or handing him the main-de-justice.

20140326_123439

UIUC MS 124, f. 20v

In the illustration above, the archbishop is shown anointing the kneeling queen.

UIUC MS 76

UIUC MS 76

The Lyte Book of Hours (MS 76) includes an illustration of St. Margaret emerging from the dragon’s belly similar to that discussed in this post. Of particular interest is the dorse of the leaf (actually the recto side) where a pinprick outline of the dragon suggests the artist’s use of a model book: 20140326_123001

Finally, it should come as no surprise to learn that UIUC holds an Ege portfolio related to the collection of printed and manuscript leaves that we looked at at Connecticut College a few weeks ago, titled Original Leaves From Famous Books (shelfmark F 655.1 Eg20).

We also visited the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where my friend Maria Saffiotti Dale serves as curator at the Chazen Museum of Art. She was kind enough to walk me through their collection of leaves and cuttings, which includes some real beauties:

Univ. of Wisconsin, Chazen Museum of Art, 2001.30

Univ. of Wisconsin, Chazen Museum of Art, 2001.30

This cutting (Acq. 2001.30), a stunning portrait of Pope Clement I painted by the French artist Vincent Raymond de Lodève in Rome in 1539,  was cut from an exquisite Vatican manuscript made for the Sistine Chapel (Capp. Sist.

MS 11), a codex that has been studied by Maria Saffiotti Dale here.

The Museum owns several other manuscript leaves, among them this Book of Hours:

Univ. of Wisconsin, Chazen Museum, Acq. 2013.37.61 recto

Univ. of Wisconsin, Chazen Museum, Acq. 2013.37.61 recto

Imagine our surprise when Maria and I went across the courtyard to visit Special Collections and found another leaf from the same manuscript!

Univ. of Wisconsin, Spec. Coll.

Univ. of Wisconsin, Spec. Coll.

The leaves were purchased years apart and without the knowledge that they were from the same manuscript. Another lovely manuscript coincidence.

In addition to an unfinished Book of Hours (MS 161), the Special Collections Department has two other items that are particularly noteworthy. The first is a copy of the Gesta Romanorum (MS 162) that belonged to Sir Thomas Phillipps (his MS 8074) before passing through the hands of British bibliophile Sir Sydney Cockerell.

Univ. of Wisconsin, Special Collections, MS 162 (flyleaf)

Univ. of Wisconsin, Special Collections, MS 162 (flyleaf)

The last piece I want to show you is an example of a failed early-modern experiment with stenciled books. This choirbook leaf was written using stenciled letters rather than freehand (before being recycled for use as a bookcover); the trend didn’t last long, as scribes figured out relatively quickly that it was more efficient to simply write the book by hand than to take the time to lay out each letter on each page for stenciling.

Univ. of Wisconsin, Special Collections

Univ. of Wisconsin, Special Collections

Next time, we’ll get back on the virtual highway to pick up where we left off, heading north out of Oklahoma towards Kansas.

 

 

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