Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017

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Lot no.


Cloth merchant’s ledger bound in a bifolium from a large thirteenth-century...

Sold for £1200

Est: £500–700

Cloth merchant’s ledger bound in a bifolium from a large thirteenth-century noted Breviary , main codex in French on paper [France (perhaps Versailles), late eighteenth to opening years of nineteenth century]

Main codex of 147 leaves of paper (approximately a third of these at the back of the volume still blank), contemporary foliation in sections, each leaf with c. 9 short entries in a scrawling script in long lines across the page, each apparently recording an order, giving names, addresses (predominantly in Paris and Reims) and the cloth products needed, each struck through with the same pen (presumably once order was filled), other leaves loosely inserted (the most modern of these with dates in early 1800s), some folds and small stains, some leaves cut away during usage, else in good condition, in total 320 by 445 mm.; bound in limp parchment binding formed from a bifolium of a noted Breviary, in 2 columns of 30 lines in 2 sizes of good early gothic bookhand, capitals in detailed penwork and touched with red lines, music set on a 4-line stave, initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork, later owner’s scrawl in middle gutter of front board probably reading “S. Lantal a versailles”, one large dark stain on back board, and small stains and scuffs all over, some tears to edges, but fair and legible condition

The dates in this ledger show that it was begun in the last decade or so of the eighteenth century, when the fires of the French Revolution were burning at their greatest height. The choice of a bifolium from a large and impressive medieval manuscript, doubtless originally made for collective use in a monastery or large church, speaks to the forced closure of such institutions in the same years and the seizure of their libraries. Too often, perhaps, we think first of figures such as Sir Thomas Phillipps and more controversially Guglielmo Libri and their rescuing of such codices, and overlook the vast numbers which must have been repurposed in the 1790s and early decades of the nineteenth century for their valuable scrap parchment.

Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures

Wednesday 06 December 2017, 2.00pm

Bloomsbury London
Bloomsbury House
24 Maddox Street


Saturday 2 December
11am - 4pm
Sunday 3 December
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Monday 4 December
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Tuesday 5 December
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Day of Sale from 9.30am

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