Monthly Archives: October 2014

Manuscript Road Trip: On to Virginia

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

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

Before we pick up where we left off, I have an addition to my last blogpost. After reading about my time in Australia, Anthony Tedeschi, the Deputy Curator of Special Collections at the University of Melbourne (and the forward-thinker responsible for the Dunedin Flikr site), wrote to let me know that the University owns no less that FOUR BIFOLIA from the gorgeous Boucicault Master Hours of which a few leaves can also be found in New Zealand. Among their leaves are four miniatures: St. Mark, St. John, St. Luke, and the Annunciation. He very kindly sent me images of two of the leaves:

St. John at Patmos (Univ. of Melbourne, Special Collections, UniM Bail SpC/ RB 61AA/ 3)

St. John at Patmos


St. Luke (Univ. of Melbourne, Special Collections, UniM Bail SpC/ RB 61AA/3)

Someone has GOT to digitally put that manuscript back together!

Now, on to West Virginia. As far as I know, the only medieval manuscripts in the state of West Virginia belong to the University of Charleston, given a set of Ege’s Original Leaves from Famous Bibles sometime between 1936 and 1942. As we have seen elsewhere, this set includes mostly leaves of printed Bibles, but begins with three manuscript pages: a leaf from an Armenian bible, dated 1221; a leaf from a small Bible of the mid-thirteenth century; and a leaf from a Parisian Bible of the early fourteenth century.

As we start to move up the East Coast, we’ll encounter a much higher density of holdings than we’ve seen in the past few months of our travels. By necessity, I’m not going to be able to mention every collection in every state; I’ll focus on less well-known collections or collections with significant online holdings, in keeping with my stated objectives. For a more detailed list of holdings in each state, you should refer to the Conway/Davis Directory of Collections in the United States and Canada with Pre-1600 Manuscript Holdings.

working map

There are at least ten collections in Virginia with pre-1600 manuscripts, holding between them nearly 600 codices and leaves. Hollins University in Roanoke reported six codices and twenty leaves, among which are two leaves of our old friend, the Beauvais Missal.

Beauvais Missal, Feast of John the Baptist (Hollins University, Spec. Coll., MS 5, no. 2v)

Beauvais Missal, Feast of John the Baptist (Hollins University, Spec. Coll., MS 5, no. 2v)

Now is as good a time as any to let you know that I have begun work in earnest on a digital reconstruction of this stunning manuscript. I’ve collected digital images of seventy-five leaves so far and am working on content metadata and codicological  reconstructions. Stay tuned…

Randolph College in Lynchburg reported holdings of seven codices and fifteen leaves. A few images are online here and here, the result of undergraduate coursework. These sites are great examples of how coursework on primary sources can be presented in a digital format, accomplishing the worthy goals of digitization, cataloguing, and access in addition to the obvious benefit to students of exposure to primary materials and web development.

The Nativity, Book of Hours (Rouen, ca. 1480) (Chrysler Museum 2014.236, Given by the Irene Leache Memorial Foundation, to honor the memory of Alice Rice Jaffé, 1992)

The Nativity, Book of Hours (Rouen, ca. 1480) (Chrysler Museum 2014.236, Given by the Irene Leache Memorial Foundation, to honor the memory of Alice Rice Jaffé, 1992)

This very fine Book of Hours from late fifteenth-century Rouen belongs to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, given to the collection in 2014 after having been deposited on a long-term loan by the Irene Leache Memorial Foundation. This manuscript was formerly attributed to the “Master of the Geneva Latini” but, according to Jim Marrow (private correspondence), seems to be related as well to the style of Robert Boyvin, also of Rouen. This Book of Hours gets around; it was sold at Sotheby’s in 1924 and 1970, then by Tenner in 1971, Sotheby’s again in 1989, and finally by Maggs Brothers in 1990 before being acquired and deposited at the Museum in 1992. Hopefully it has found a longterm home at last.

Until recently, one of the finest private manuscript collections in the country was found in Covington, Virginia, in the hands of Harry Walton, Jr. The collection was recorded in the Supplement (pp. 517-24) but has since been dispersed. Les Enluminures has sold several Walton manuscripts in recent years, and some have appeared at Sotheby’s (a list of some of these sales and, if known, the current location of several Walton manuscripts, can be found in the Conway/Davis Directory, p. 132). Walton manuscripts are readily identifiable by a purple shelfmark stamp, a letter followed by a number; there are a few images of the Walton stamp here.

photomain2cOur last stop of the day is one of my favorite places, the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I have taken two courses at RBS over the years (one was so long ago the school was still based at Columbia). If you haven’t had the opportunity to spend an intensive and delightful week there studying rare books and manuscripts with top-notch faculty and motivated colleagues, I highly recommend it! Most people don’t realize that RBS has an excellent teaching collection of several hundred manuscript fragments and printed leaves, a spectacular and unique assemblage of membra disiecta spanning the globe and covering more than one thousand years. Among the manuscripts are these very early and very interesting specimens that caught my eye (my thanks to RBS’ Barbara Heritage and Theresa Goodman for sending me the handlist and images; images provided courtesy of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia):

MS 054a

RBS MS 54 (France, ca. 875)

RBS MS 526 (France?, s. X)

RBS MS 526 (Italy?, s. X)

MS 480

RBS MS 480 (S. Germany/Austria, ca. 1130)

MS 483

RBS MS 483, Antiphonal (S. Germany/Austria, ca. 1130)

MS 498

RBS MS 498 (Bede, Commentary on the Song of Songs, Italy, s. XII inc)

MS 527

RBS MS 527 (France?, s. XI med)

Next time, we’ll cross the Potomac and explore the nation’s capital.


Filed under Medieval Manuscripts, Otto F. Ege