• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 7

    BIBLE, with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

    Price Realised  


    BIBLE, with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
    [northern France, probably Paris, second half 13th century]
    149 x 98mm. ii + 545 + ii leaves, mainly in gatherings of 20 leaves, probably lacking 13th gathering and one further leaf, modern numbering of gatherings in pencil, two columns of 48 lines written in brown-black ink in a small gothic bookhand between four verticals and 49 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 103 x 72mm, prickings visible in the lower margin of some leaves, additional pairs of horizontals in upper and lower margins, rubrics in red, versal initials touched red, letters of running headings, chapter numbers and Hebrew names alternately of red or blue, two-, four- and five-line chapter initials alternately of red with light blue flourishing or blue with red flourishing, SEVENTY-FOUR LARGE FLOURISHED 'PUZZLE' INITIALS, including Genesis initial extending the height of the text column, with staves of red and blue with red, blue and light blue flourishing, the infills with scrolling patterns in red, occasional scribal corrections in margins (very slight cropping, a few minor marginal tears, occasional slight cockling or spots, one small brown stain affecting text of two leaves). English late 18th-century tree calf tooled in gilt, marbled endpapers, g.e. (joints repaired).


    1. Four lines of text from Alexander de Villa Dei's Summa Bibliae metrica have been added to the blank verso of f.502 in a 13th/14th century hand. They open 'Sex prohibit peccant abel enoch', comprising a mnemonic device for events in the Bible. Alexander de Villa Dei (1175-1240), Franciscan author and mathematician was a Master in the University of Paris. Occasional marginal annotations and further inscriptions in plummet, barely visible on blank vellum flyleaves, are indications of early ownership and use.

    2. Pentrials show that the Bible was in England by the 18th century.

    3. Harry Lancelot Lee (d.1821) (armorial bookplate pasted on verso of front endpaper), of Coton Hall, Alveley, Shropshire; a descendant of the De la Lee family who held the estate since 1348. It is widely believed that the American colonial Lee family descended from the Lees of Shropshire: Richard Lee I emigrated to Virginia in 1639. His most celebrated descendants include the colonist and founder of the Ohio Company, Thomas Lee (1690-1750), signers of the Declaration of Independence, Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734-1797) and Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794), and the Confederate commander in the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee (1807-70).

    Vulgate Bible with the customary Prologues ff.1-502: lacking Book of Psalms and opening of Book of Proverbs to verse 16 of Chapter III; lacking very end Chapter xlv to final word of Chapter xlviii in Book of Ecclesiastes; Interpretation of Hebrew names ff.503-545.

    A handsome example of a pocket-bible with extensive decoration throughout. Each book opens with a large 'puzzle' initial with divided staves of red and dark blue, with intricate and extensive flourishing of the same colours and in light blue.
    The removal of the Book of Psalms may have been at the hands of an early owner of the manuscript who wished to have a small and portable Psalter for private use.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.