BIBLE, with Prologues and Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, decorated manuscript on vellum [England, third quarter 13th century]
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BIBLE, with Prologues and Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, decorated manuscript on vellum [England, third quarter 13th century]

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BIBLE, with Prologues and Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, decorated manuscript on vellum [England, third quarter 13th century]


A handsome 13th-century single-volume English Bible with wide margins, written in a fine calligraphic hand and decorated with bright and unusual initials often inhabited by winged dragons, beasts and grotesques.


258 x 178mm. ii + 275 + iii leaves, modern foliation in pencil 1-275 followed here. Two columns of 51-3 lines, ruled space: 186 x 125mm. Running headers and chapter numbers in red and blue, penwork initials throughout, decorated initials to books, prologues and main divisions of the Psalms (lacking Genesis and Exodus up to 35:34, Isaiah 9:17 – Jeremiah 3:7 after f.144, a single leaf after f.9 [Numbers 4:9 – 7:13] and two leaves after f.243 [I Tim. Prol. – Hebrews 2:17], initials excised on ff.107, 109, 112, 120, 133, 143, 174, 179, 180, 240, margin on f.1 torn and repaired, margin on f.2 torn, upper margin of f.173 sliced, occasional marginal staining). 19th-century calf (edges lightly scuffed).

Provenance: (1) Several 16th-century scribbles, pentrials and inscriptions in various English hands including ‘Iohn Shurley’ (f.150v) and ‘Yevane Fairburn of madibe?’ (f.275v). (2) John Bowen: his inscription on f.1 ‘Johannes Bowen Anna Aetat 70. Annoque Domini 1826’. (3) M.H. Bloxam, by whom given to Rugby School Library; inscription dated 12 May 1883 on f.ii. (4) Bookplate of Rugby School Library.

Content: Bible, beginning in Exodus 35:34, ff.1-249; Interpretation of Hebrew names ff.250-275.

Unusually for an English Bible, this manuscript contains a Psalter (ff.107-122v).

Decoration: The present manuscript displays a lively and distinctive programme of decoration, with penwork flourishing often extending to the height of text or even page in alternating red and blue ink - the blue the bright pale shade that is a quintessential feature of English manuscript decoration. The foliate scrolling pattern to staves and palette are consistent with features of English illumination in the third quarter of the 13th century, and the initials are often elaborately enlivened by contorted beasts forming the body of - or devouring - the staves.
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