Tag Archives: St. Louis Public Library

Manuscript Road Trip: (Re)introducing the Gottschalk Antiphonal!

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 months ago, I wrote about the potential of Fragmentarium for cataloguing fragments and digitally reconstructing dismembered manuscripts. I concluded that post with the  aspirational note, “I really do think it’s time for Gottschalk to go digital,” in reference to the manuscript I reconstructed as part of my PhD dissertation at Yale in the early 1990s. That work was done using black-and-white photocopies, and, when published by Cambridge University Press in the year 2000, black-and-white photographs. Now, 750 years after the manuscript was written, the Gottschalk Antiphonal has finally gone digital! I am very pleased to introduce my Fragmentarium reconstruction of the Gottschalk Antiphonal, in glorious IIIF-compliant interoperable color:



Hello, Gottschalk!

I was inspired to add Gottschalk to Fragmentarium by my students’ work reconstructing other manuscripts and motivated to actually do it by my participation in a Fragmentology session at the recent International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Thousands of medievalists from all over the world flock to Kalamazoo every May for this annual conference, listening to and learning from one another, greeting old friends, conferring with colleagues. My session was chaired by Elizabeth Hebbard (Indiana Univ.) and included fragmentology presentations by Julia King (Univ. of Toronto), Kayla Lunt (Indiana Univ.), Dana Kovarik (Univ. College London), and Elena Iourtaeva (Harvard Univ.). All six of us are working on fragmentology projects. I noted in my presentation that the Swiss-German word for “fragmentology” is “Schnipseljagd” (fragment hunting), which makes all six of us Schnipseljägerinnen (“Fragment huntresses”). That might just be my new favorite word.


The Schnipseljägerinnen of Kalamazoo

In my presentation I discussed the fragmentology projects completed by my students at the Simmons School of Library and Information Science, and I debuted my digital reconstruction of the Gottschalk Antiphonal.


The Gottschalk Antiphonal, with Gottschalk’s distinctive script, neumatic notation, marginal tonary-letters, and purple-and-red penwork initials (BRBL MS 481.51.6v)

The Gottschalk Antiphonal was written and illustrated in the late twelfth century by the scribe/artist/monk Gottschalk of Lambach and was used at the Lambach abbey for several centuries. The manuscript is a choirbook for the Divine Offices recited throughout the day, preserving liturgy for specific days throughout the year. Because it is a choirbook, it includes interlinear musical notation: predating the development of the four-line-staff and Gregorian notation, the Antiphonal uses unheightened neumes in the St. Gall style, with tonary-letters (indicating something akin to the “key” of each chant) in the margins. Gottschalk’s distinctive artistic style permeates the manuscript, with penwork initials in purple and red.

By the fifteenth century, the musical notation and liturgy were centuries out-of-date, and, along with many other manuscripts, the obsolete antiphonal was dismembered to be used as binding scrap at the Lambach Abbey bindery. During World War II, the monks found themselves in need of a new wood lathe. To raise money for the purchase, they removed the antiphonal leaves and dozens of other fragments from the later bindings in which they had been repurposed, and sold them.

The fragments made their way en masse via a Swiss bookdealer to the New York firm of Hans P. Kraus, and from there to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (BRBL) in 1965. By the time the leaves had been acquired by Kraus, however, the original provenance of the group had been forgotten. Fortunately, a scholar by the name of Kurt Holter had studied and described the fragments in situ at Lambach before the war. It was thanks to his published descriptions of the leaves that then-curator Robert G. Babcock and a team of graduate students (including myself) were, in the early 1990s, able to identify the Beinecke collection as having originated at Lambach. I was particularly intrigued by the seventeen antiphonal leaves and decided to make the manuscript the subject of my dissertation. In addition to the seventeen Gottschalk Antiphonal leaves at Yale (BRBL MS 481.51), there are two at Harvard’s Houghton Library (MS Typ 704 (5) and 704 (6)). We have already seen the leaf that toured the midwestern United States in an aluminum trailer before settling down at the St. Louis Public Library, and there are a few still in Austria (at a hotel in Badgastein, in the abbey of St. Paul im Lavanttal, and in Lambach itself, although the incunable flyleaves observed there as recently as 1998 have since vanished and are represented in the online reconstruction by my old black-and-white photographs).


Offset of a Gottschalk Antiphonal leaf (BRBL Zi +1525, inner rear cover) (image rotated and inverted)

In 2016, an offset of a leaf of the Gottschalk Antiphonal was found in an incunable belonging to the Beinecke Library. The mirror-image remnant was left behind when the actual leaf was peeled off of the wooden board, where it had been used to secure the leather turn-ins on the back cover. Ironically, the volume had been at the Beinecke for decades by the time I wrote my thesis there, but it was only during a recent survey of the bindings by Elizabeth Hebbard (Indiana Univ.) that the offset was photographed and identified. The leaf was originally consecutive with one of the leaves at Harvard, and I have added an inverted and rotated image of the offset to my Fragmentarium reconstruction. I hope that more leaves will come to light someday. If they do, they can easily be added to the twenty-nine leaves currently appearing in the Fragmentarium shared canvas.

And here’s a sidenote for the liturgists among you (if you’re not interested in a deep dive into the structure of medieval liturgical manuscripts, you should skip the next few paragraphs). Every time I’ve returned to the Gottschalk Antiphonal over the years, I’ve found myself wondering if I really did put the leaves in the right order. There are no folio numbers, after all, so only the content can determine the correct sequence. In the case of the Gottschalk Antiphonal, the correct order of leaves isn’t always obvious.

The order of the leaves is debatable because in the early Middle Ages, there was no consistent organizational system for liturgical manuscripts. They tended to be organized calendrically, but some manuscripts intermingled the movable feasts like Easter with the dated feasts like Saints’ days (see Hughes, p. 243, ms B60 for one such example). This system was a bit messy, since it necessitated interspersing set feasts with those that could move. In the later Middle Ages (starting in the thirteenth century or so), a more orderly system developed that untangled the two types of feastdays. As a result, later liturgical manuscripts are almost always divided into two sections known as the Temporale (the movable feasts whose dates are set relative to Easter, plus a few set feasts like Christmas and Epiphany) and the Sanctorale (saints’ feasts in calendrical order, e.g. St. Valentine on February 14). Both sections usually begin in late November, with the beginning of Advent for the Temporale and Saint Andrew (30 November) for the Sanctorale. The Sanctorale is usually followed by the Commons, generic liturgy for particular classes of saints like Virgin Martyrs or Popes.

BRBL 481.51.8r

Initial Q in Gottschalk’s distinctive style (BRBL MS 481.51.8r)

The Gottschalk Antiphonal is of the earlier variety that mingles Temporale and Sanctorale. For example, a now-lost leaf that was formerly bound into an incunable in the Lambach Abbey library includes liturgy for the Sunday during the Octave of Epiphany (part of the Temporale, even though Epiphany has a fixed date) as well as the liturgy for St. Paul the First Hermit (a Sanctorale feast on January 10) and St. Hilary of Poitiers (January 13). Depending on the day of week on which Epiphany fell in a given year, St. Paul or St. Hilary’s feastdays might have landed before, on, or after the Sunday that occurs during the eight days following Epiphany. This intermigling of Temporale and Sanctorale means that it’s not entirely obvious where in the year the manuscript begins or how leaves with Sanctorale feasts relate to calendrically-nearby Temporale feasts. But you have to start somewhere, and because most manuscripts begin with the first Sunday of Advent, it seemed logical to begin the Gottschalk Antiphonal there. And so BRBL MS 481.51.1, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, begins my reconstruction (Sundays 1-3 are not extant). From that point, the leaves are in roughly calendrical order, from Advent to Christmas (December), Epiphany season through Lent (January – March), Easter season (March – April), the Summer Sundays and autumn feasts (May – November), ending with St. Lucy (13 December) and St. Thomas the Apostle (21 December). I feel confident about this sequence in part because the office of St. Thomas is immediately followed by the first Common office, for Evangelists (BRBL MS 481.51.17).

Typ 704 6r

Virgin Saint (Harvard Univ., Houghton Library, MS Typ 704 (6) recto)

This placement suggests that the calendrical sequence ends in December and supports the idea that it began with Advent season. However, this theory is complicated by the fact that Advent season itself would have encompassed the Saints of December such as Lucy and Thomas. Gottschalk’s solution to this complexity appears to have been to simply avoid mingling the Sanctorale with Advent. For example, BRBL MS 481.51.2, liturgy for the week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent, provides ONLY Temporale liturgy and does not give any hint of Sanctorale feasts, even though that week could have included Saints from late December such as Lucy or Thomas. Instead, Gottschalk inserted the Saints of Advent season at the end of the manuscript, when the calendar circled back around to December. With only 29 leaves recovered out of perhaps as many as one hundred, however, it is certainly possible that additional evidence may result in adjustments to this sequence. Because Fragmentarium uses a drag-and-drop feature to sequence images, it will be quite simple to add or re-order leaves if necessary. The clip below demonstrates this backend functionality.


It is worth noting that images of the two leaves at Harvard were imported directly into the Fragmentarium reconstruction using a persistent IIIF url. The other images were uploaded to the Fragmentarium server as individual JPGs. That’s part of the magic of both Fragmentarium and of IIIF, the International Image Interoperability Framework.

Typ 704 5v

Angel of the Annunciation (Harvard Univ., Houghton Library MS Typ 704 (5) verso)

IIIF is the key to fragmentology. If an institutional repository serves its images using IIIF, each individual imagefile will have a persistent IIIF url that can be used to mirror the image directly into a shared-canvas viewer such as Mirador or, in the case of Fragmentarium, Open Sea Dragon. This means that the images are truly open access and can be shared, imported, and manipulated without duplicating, downloading, or uploading the imagefile itself. When the Fragmentarium shared canvas is opened or refreshed, the IIIF images are “mirrored” into the canvas directly from the host server, freed from the host’s viewer or database. The image also has its own metadata established by the home institution that “travels” with it into the shared canvas. If you want to learn more about IIIF and the Mirador viewer, by the way, check out the three-day workshop at the Beinecke Library on 10-12 July 2018 that I will be co-teaching with Stanford University’s Ben Albritton. The deadline to apply is June 1, and more information is available here.

Gottschalk AntiphonaryWhen I first studied the Gottschalk Antiphonal in the early 1990s, I did it with scissors and paste and black-and-white photocopies on the floor of my living room. It is truly thrilling to see it in glorious IIIF-compliant interoperable color in Fragmentarium. I hope that the reconstruction will complement the liturgical, art historical, and musicological study in my book, bringing this beautiful example of twelfth-century music, liturgy, and decoration to a new generation of students and scholars.



Davis, Lisa Fagin. The Gottschalk Antiphonary: Music and Liturgy in Twelfth-Century Lambach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Davis, Lisa Fagin. Fragmentarium. Multiple, Dispersed Virtual Reconstructions, Gottschalk Antiphonal <http://fragmentarium.ms/overview/F-75ud> (accessed 21 May 2018)

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to their Organization and Terminology (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995)


Filed under Fragmentology, Medieval Manuscripts

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) (photo by Debra Cashion)

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.


Filed under Medieval Manuscripts