Monthly Archives: April 2016

Manuscript Road Trip, Canadian Edition: Newfoundland

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

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

Heading northeast from Nova Scotia, we’ll make our way across the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the island of Newfoundland, whose Atlantic coast is the continent’s most easterly point, granted the daily gift of North America’s first sunrise.

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As far as I know, there is only one collection in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador housing pre-1600 European manuscripts: Memorial University in St. John’s.

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Memorial’s collection is uncommon in several respects. The manuscripts have been catalogued, both in the library OPAC and in two online handlists (here and here), and several have been completely and beautifully digitized (linked from the first handlist). In addition, unlike the collection we looked at last week in Nova Scotia whose manuscripts were acquired by bequest a century ago, Memorial is actively collecting, having acquired nearly all of its early manuscripts in the last decade. In its acquisition, cataloguing, and digitization programmes, Memorial University is impressively on par with larger, more well-known institutions.

Not only is the Library acquiring fine examples from various regions and centuries to form an excellent teaching collection, but several of the manuscripts have esteemed histories, making them fascinating case studies in provenance and North American collection development.

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Opening initial, Hours of the Virgin (Memorial University, Newfoundland, BX 2080 1455 vault, f. 16r)

Memorial’s beautiful mid-fifteenth-century Dutch Book of Hours (made in Haarlem for the use of Utrecht) is a great example of a manuscript with an impressive origin and storied history.  This codex is full of extraordinary penwork decoration, almost shockingly ornate. The penwork holds many hidden surprises; check out the face hidden in the lower left corner of f. 63v!

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The scribe of this professionally-produced manuscript has been localized by Margriet Hülsmann – who has identified several other manuscripts written in this hand – as active in Haarlem, ca. 1455 – 1465 (see “An identifiable Haarlem scribe active c.1455 to c.1465 in the environment of the Master of the Haarlem Bible”, Quaerendo 33, 2003, nos 1 & 2, pp. 119-134, this manuscript described on pp.120, 125-6). Hülsmann also affiliates the decorative stamps on the original leather binding with a Haarlem workshop of the same period.

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Provenance inscriptions (Memorial University, Newfoundland, BX 2080 1455 vault, first blank leaf)

By the early nineteenth century, the manuscript had crossed the English Channel, where it was bought in Exeter by Devonshire collector Charles Aldenburg Bentinck (1810-1891), who made note of the acquisition on the first flyleaf. In 1943, the manuscript was purchased by famed British collector (and Sussex sheriff and brewer) John Roland Abbey (1894-1969), who affixed his very impressive gilt and embossed bookplate inside the front cover. This was no. 2225 in his collection.

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Abbey Bookplate (Memorial University, Newfoundland, BX 2080 1455 vault, inner front cover)

The Abbey library was dispersed by Sotheby’s London in the 1970s. In Part 7 of the sale (1 Dec. 1970), this manuscript was lot 2880. From Sotheby’s, the manuscript went through several hands before making its way to St. John’s (see Schoenberg Database records 26721, 83131, and 185343; the latter is Christie’s London, 23 Nov. 2010, lot 15).

In addition to several other codices (see the handlists linked above), Memorial has recently acquired nearly two dozen single leaves, several of which are particularly noteworthy. None of these images are available online as of yet, and I thank Memorial librarians Jeannie Bail and Patrick Warner for their generosity in sharing these images with me and allowing me to share them with you.
Leaf from the Chundleigh Bible (side 1)

This bible leaf, preserving part of the fourth book of Kings, comes from a thirteenth-century manuscript from Arras known as the Chudleigh Bible, so named for Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who owned the complete manuscript in the first half of the twentieth century. The volume was sold by Lord Clifford at Sotheby’s on 7 December 1953, lot 51, and appeared there again on 8 July 1970, lot 104.  It was broken soon afterwards and the leaves dispersed. Although the Memorial University leaf does not have any historiated initials (such as those in these leaves sold recently at Christie’s), it is clearly identifiable as part of the Chudleigh Bible because of its dimensions (54 lines, two columns, 285 x 190 (185 x 120) mm) and the distinctive decorative red-framed annotations. Stanford University owns a bifolium of the manuscript, and other leaves have been sold by Quaritch (cat.1147, 1991, no 15), Maggs (Cat.1167, 1993, no 2), and Sotheby’s, 6 December 2005, lot 16 and 8 July 2014, lots 13-14.

Another recent acquisition of note is this leaf, from a processional attributed to the nuns of the Royal Dominican Abbey of St-Louis at Poissy:

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At first glance, this looks an awful lot like the manuscripts produced in France in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries (like this or this), with the vertical bars, colorful vines, spindly tendrils, and trefoil leaves typical of manuscripts produced around the year 1400. In fact, the pencil notation in the lower margin makes just such an early attribution, albeit slightly earlier than one might immediately think.
At second glance, however, something looks odd. The blunt, squared-off appendages to the vines are unusual…the script is a later style than would usually accompany this kind of decoration…and so on. In fact, in her unpublished dissertation, Joan Naughton argues that the sixteenth-century nuns of Poissy were in the habit (sorry) of “archaizing” late-fifteenth and early sixteenth-century manuscripts by adding decoration in an antiquated style, making them appear older than they really were (“Manuscripts from the Dominican Monastery of Saint-Louis de Poissy,” unpubl. PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 1995, p. 139). In this case, a late fifteenth-century manuscript was decorated in a style from a century before. For more, see Scott Gwara’s sales catalogue Enchiridion 19: Medieval Fragments for University Teaching & Research, where this leaf is item 1A.
Next time, we’ll journey to Montreal, Québec, where there are several collections of distinction.
MontRoyal

 

 

 

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Manuscript Road Trip, Canadian Edition: Nova Scotia

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 I catch a virtual ferry to Nova Scotia, I want to thank everyone who contacted me in the last few weeks with updates to my handlist of Canadian collections. Thanks to these comments and emails, ten collections can be added to the list:

Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia)

Memorial University (St. John’s, Newfoundland)

The Univ. of Western Ontario (London, Ontario)

Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)

University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario)

Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto, Ontario)

Concordia University  (Montréal, Québec)

Jesuit Archives (Montréal, Québec)

Musée de l’Amérique française (Montréal, Québec)

The University of Montréal (Montréal, Québec)

According to Laurent Brun, St. Paul University and Dominican University College in Ottawa may have pre-1600 material, but that is still to be confirmed.

All of these updates will go into the next (online) edition of the Directory of Collections in the United States and Canada with Pre-1600 Manuscript Holdings. For a limited time, by the way, the latest version of the Directory is available as an open-access PDF here. Melissa Conway (my Directory co-author) and I are very grateful for these and any updates.

And now, on to beautiful Nova Scotia…

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I have never been to Nova Scotia, but it is on my list of places to visit, in part because that island province and neighboring New Brunswick have the distinction of being home to the most dramatic tides in the world, at the Bay of Fundy. The  difference between low and high tide can be a whopping fifty feet, and is, I am told, a sight to see. Here’s a time-lapse video (credit to Kevin@Creativeimagery.ca) of the tide coming in and out at Hopewell Rocks, one of the most dramatic sites. Fortunately, you won’t find medieval manuscripts in the Bay of Fundy, and since that’s why we’re here, after taking a ferry from New Brunswick across the Bay, we’ll head south-east to Halifax, to the University of King’s College.

Originally established in Windsor (on the Bay of Fundy), King’s College is the oldest English university in Canada, founded by the Church of England in 1789. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the medieval manuscripts at King’s have a firmly Anglican provenance. The University relocated to Halifax after a fire destroyed the main building in 1920; fortunately, the library’s medieval manuscripts were unharmed. These books were first catalogued by librarian Harry Piers in 1893, in the Catalogue of the Library of King’s College, Windsor, Nova Scotia. Piers describes seven manuscripts (pp. 458 and 459), though not entirely the same seven recorded by the de Ricci Census (II:2202) in 1935. Today there are a dozen pre-1600 manuscripts (with thanks to former King’s College Special Collection librarian Janet Hathaway for this handlist):

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Univ. of King’s College, MM 7 (detail) (photo courtesy of UKC, Spec. Coll. and Archives)

MM 1 (Piers p. 458; Census no. 1): Biblical concordance, s. XIII. Given by T. B. Akins in 1890.

MM 2 (Piers p. 459; Census no. 5): Anglo-Norman chancery scroll, s. XIII. Given by T. B. Akins in 1890.

MM 3 (Piers p. 33 and p. 458; Census no. 4): “Paris Bible,” s. XIII. Given by Rev. Reginald Heber Bullock in 1860.

MM 4 (Piers p. 458; Census no. 2): Passion narratives, s. XIV, with illustrations of the evangelists. Given by King’s President George Mccauley (1836 – 1875).

MM 5 (Piers p. 458; Census no. 3): Breviary (formerly identified as a Missal), said to be from the Jesuit College in Louvain, s. XIV. Given by T. B. Akins in 1871.

MM 6 (not in Piers; Census no. 7): Sermons on the Blessed Sacrament, said to have been written in 1268 for the Dominicans in Cologne. Formerly owned by Rev. H. T. Kingdon. Given by Rev. J. R. deW. Cowie, before 1935. (see below for more on this manuscript)

MM 7 (not in Piers or the Census): Hours of the Virgin, s. XVex (detail at left). Formerly owned by T. B. Akins. Given by the Nova Scotia Historical Society in 1956.

MM 8 (Piers p. 459; Census no. 6): German almanac for 1483. given by T. B. Akins in 1871.

MM 9 (not in Piers or the Census): Lives of Theseus and Romulus, s. XVI. Given by T. b. Akins in 1871.

MM 10 (not in Piers or the Census): Paradisus Monacharum, et alia (in Spanish), date unspecified. Given by Joy (Morrison) Smith, wife of President Harry Smith (1963 – 1969).

MM 11 (not in Piers or the Census): Coptic manuscript of the Psalms, written in Ge’ez, date unspecified. Given by Prof. Kathleen Jaeger.

MM 12 (not in Piers or the Census): Scroll of Esther, date unspecified

For my money, one of the most interesting of these is MM 6, a collection of sermons said to have been written in 1268 for the Dominicans of Cologne, the sometime home of the great Dominican Thomas Aquinas, whose work may have influenced this collection (there is much work to be done on these sermons and this manuscript; students take note!!). The manuscript opens with two spectacular full-page diagrams explicating the benefits of the Sacrament. Such diagrams were common exegetical tools used by teachers and preachers alike to make abstract theological concepts more concrete. Both are depicted botanically, as trees with root, trunk, branches, and leaves in descending hierarchy as concepts are broken out in more detail. The diagram on the right explains the seven benefits of the Sacrament:

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Univ. of King’s College, Manuscript MM 6, ff. 1v-2 (photo courtesy of University of King’s College, Archives & Special Collections, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

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UKC, Manuscript MM 6, f. 1r (detail)

The manuscript was likely written somewhat later than 1268, perhaps during the fourteenth century. It is not clear how the date of 1268 came to be associated with the codex; it is recorded in an early-modern inscription on the first flyleaf (detail at right), but only a detailed examination of the manuscript would allow for a more accurate estimate of its date of origin. I’m also not entirely sure what is implied by the final phrase of the inscription, “Item Novum Testamentum”; there may be sermons on the New Testament in the manuscript in addition to those on the Sacrament.

It is also unclear how or when the manuscript crossed the ocean. What IS clear is that at some point in the mid-nineteenth century it came into the possession of Hollingworth Tully Kingdon (1836-1907), an Anglican Bishop. Kingdon was born and educated in England and came to Canada in 1881 to take up the Bishop Coadjutor position in Fredericton, New Brunswick. An ardent bibliophile, Kingdon in all likelihood brought the manuscript (and others) with him to Canada. It was certainly in his possession by 1889, when he referred directly to the codex in a sermon delivered in New York:

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Univ. of King’s College, MM 6, f. 49 (photo courtesy of UKC, Spec. Coll.)

“There is in my possession a manuscript volume of sermons on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. They were written by the Dominicans of Cologne in A. D. 1268 and bear internal evidence of the work of S. Thomas Aquinas who was lecturing at Cologne about that time…” (H. T. Kingdon, “The Reformation Period,” in The Church in the British Isles: Sketches of its Continuous History from the Earliest Times to the Restoration. Lectures Delivered in 1889 under the Auspices of the Church Club of New York (New York, 1894), p. 186)

As Kingdon was serving as Bishop Coadjutor, a young, equally book-loving King’s College alumnus named James Ratchford de Wolfe Cowie (1855 – 1935) was working towards his 1883 ordination as an Anglican Deacon; his first service was in Fredericton as well, where he served with Kingdon for several years before being sent to southern California as an Anglican missionary. When he returned to preach in New Brunswick (by 1901), he found that Kingdon had been promoted to full Bishop. They served together until Kingdon’s death in 1907.

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Hollingworth Tully Kingdon (date unknown)

According to Kingdon’s Last Will and Testament (on file at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, and I thank PANB Reference Services Librarian Katherine MacDonald for tracking down the document for me), Kingdon left his entire estate to his wife Anna, who outlived him by several years. The next known owner of the Cologne manuscript, however, was not Anna but Rev. Cowie. It seems likely that Kingdon gave the codex to Cowie sometime before his death, a rare gift that surely suggests they were close friends, having worked together for many years. Cowie donated MM 6 to his alma mater sometime before his own death in 1935.

Manuscripts MM 1, 7, 8, and 9 came to King’s through Thomas Beamish Akins (1809 – 1891), a Canadian attorney and local historian; among his published works was the first history of King’s College, written in 1869. He donated MM 8 and 9 to the College in 1871, MM 1 in 1890. After his death, most of his library was bequeathed to the Legal Library of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, which gave manuscript MM 7 to King’s in 1956.

Next time, we’ll visit Newfoundland to catch the first sunrise over the Atlantic.

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