Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017
Osbern of Gloucester, Panormia , in Latin
Osbern of Gloucester, Panormia (on derivations of words) , in Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment [England (perhaps south west), c. 1200]
Single leaf, trimmed at top with loss of a line or so of text, and on other sides with losses only to borders, remains of double column of 41 lines of a tiny and delicate early gothic bookhand, with descenders in lower margin extended and ending in coils of penwork and what resembles swords or spearheads, simple red initials (all ‘A’) in ornamental and angular penstrokes, splits to edges and discolouration from reuse in a binding, small holes from erosion by binding clasps, overall fair and presentable condition, 190mm. by 148mm.
From the collection of Bernhard Bischoff (1906-1991), and thence to Bernard Rosenthal, purchased after Bischoff’s death, thereafter Quaritch and then the Schøyen collection, their MS. 1818; sold immediately after their sale in Sotheby’s, 10 July 2012, part of lot 27.
Osbern Pinnock (1123-1200) was a member of the Benedictine community of St. Peter’s Abbey, Gloucester, and a noted lexicographer. His work has the distinction of being one of the few Romanesque English contributions to make significant inroads into contemporary European scholarship, being found as far away as Bavaria and Austria by the end of the twelfth century, and influencing Huguccio of Pisa. He dedicated the work to Abbot Hamelinus of Gloucester (held office 1148-79), and explains that he compiled a version of the work when he was a young man, but it was stolen from him, and returned to rewrite it only in his extreme old age. As R.W. Hunt notes, very few English witnesses survive, and in fact only two complete manuscripts and two fragments were traced by that author (History of Grammar in the Middle Ages , 1980, pp. 151-166; not including the present example). These are: (i) Hereford Cathedral MSP.V.5 (early thirteenth century); (ii) Oxford, Bodleian, MS. Auct.F.6.8 (late thirteenth century, which notes the author’s name ‘Pinnock’, after the Glos. town of same name, most probably his birthplace); (iii) Oxford, Christ Church, MS. 91 (a thirteenth-century quire only); and (iv) Worcester Cathedral, MS. Q.37 (thirteenth century). The antiquary Leland saw another at Gloucester. Thus, the present manuscript may well be the earliest witness to the text, written within the author’s lifetime and perhaps his own circle.
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