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[Otto F. Ege (1888-1951)]
[Otto F. Ege (1888-1951)]
[Otto F. Ege (1888-1951)]
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[Otto F. Ege (1888-1951)]
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[Otto F. Ege (1888-1951)]

FIFTY ORIGINAL LEAVES FROM MEDIEVAL MANUSCRIPTS

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[Otto F. Ege (1888-1951)]
Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts
[OTTO F. EGE (1888 - 1951)]. Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts. Western Europe: XII-XVI Century [compiled Cleveland, c.1950]

The first set, no 1 of 40, of Otto Eges most ambitious and famous portfolio collection of manuscript leaves from 12th- to 16th- century Europe, Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts: reappearing on the market after more than forty years in a private American collection.

50 manuscript leaves on vellum [central Europe, 12th-16th century], various sizes (91 x 61mm to 457 x 323mm), some leaves with decorated or illuminated initials and borders, three with historiated initials and one with a large arch-topped miniature, 8 with musical notation (small instances of surface staining or rubbing and marginal tears scattered throughout, the printed description slip loose for f.15); two copies of the printed introductory leaf describing the collection and listing its contents, each leaf hinged to a paper mount with a printed description on an attached slip (edges of the introductory leaves a little bumped). In the original brown buckram box, no 1 of 40 numbered sets (the edges of the box slightly rubbed, the title plate a little scuffed, the spine slightly split). Provenance: (1) Otto F Ege (1888-1951; his bookplate inside the upper lid). (2) Bruce Ferrini, purchased in 1976 by: (3) Alexander E. Vida, by descent.

Otto F. Ege (1888-1951), Dean of the Cleveland Institute of Art, lecturer on the History of the Book at Western Reserve University and self-proclaimed biblioclast, created the 20th-century market for medieval manuscript leaves in America: alongside his wife, Louise, and with the help of the bookseller Philip Duschnes, he purchased, took apart and dispersed hundreds of manuscripts and early printed books between 1917 and 1950, first focusing on the placement of individual leaves with private collectors and in public institutions before moving, in the 1940s, into the compilation of portfolios of leaves from ‘great books’ of the 12th to 16th centuries. Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts is the most famous and ambitious of these compilations; conceived around 1947, the edition comprised 40 sets of 50 leaves, taken from imperfect or incomplete manuscripts collected by Ege across the preceding four decades (see Scott Gwara, Otto Ege's Manuscripts: A Study of Ege's Manuscript Collections, Portfolios, and Retail Trade, 2013, pp.44-49, for more information on FOL). Fifty Original Leaves probably represents the full realisation of Ege’s overarching aims, as stated in a 1938 article in the journal Avocations: ‘to search for and make available to schools, libraries, collections, and individuals single leaves or units of mediaeval manuscripts, incunabula works, and fine presses; […] To encourage and inspire by these fragments […]’.

The parent manuscripts range from a 12th-century Bible to a 16th-century Book of Hours; the highlight of Fifty Original Leaves is generally considered to be the Beauvais Missal (f.15), a famous illuminated missal owned by Beauvais Cathedral in the 14th century and William Randolph Hearst in the 20th, and our set contains an attractive example with three large illuminated initials. Also of note is f.48, the leaf from a 15th-century Book of Hours illuminated in the Netherlands. Ege would typically have sold the miniature leaves from such manuscripts separately, but our set contains a leaf with a large, arch-topped miniature, perhaps in recognition of this being the first set of 40: the present compilation appears to contain particularly fine examples of the parents manuscripts. Set no 1 was listed as ‘untraced’ by Scott Gwara in 2013, along with nine other of the forty sets: this represents its reappearance on the market after more than forty years.


As identified by Ege, the contents of this set are:

1. BIBLE, New Testament, in Latin [Switzerland (?), early 12th century]. 214 x 156mm, single column. Glosses in several hands.

2. MISSAL, in Latin [Spain or southern France, mid-12th century]. 338 x 240mm, single column. One- to five-line initials in red.

3. LECTIONARY, in Latin [Italy, mid-12th century]. 332 x 235mm, single column. Two large red and blue initials.

4. PSALTER, in Latin [France, late 12th century]. 212 x 150mm, single column.

5. BIBLE, in Latin [France, early 13th century]. 325 x 221mm, two columns. Red and blue initials.

6. BIBLE, in Latin [England, Cambridge, early 13th century]. 275 x 202mm, two columns. Red and blue flourished initials.

7. PETRUS RIGA (d.1209) AND AEGIDIUS OF PARIS, Aurora, in Latin [England, early 13th century]. 225 x 113mm, single column. Red and blue flourished initials.

8. GRADUAL, in Latin [England, early 13th century]. 180 x 122mm, single column. Music: square neumes on four-line staves.
9. BIBLE, in Latin [Paris, mid-13th century]. 170 x 122mm, two columns. 7-line decorated initial.

10. PSALTER, in Latin [Germany, mid-13th century]. 195 x 139mm, single column. Blue and gold initials, one 2-line historiated initial.
11. BIBLE, in Latin [Italy, Bible. Italy, mid-13th century]. 194 x 130mm, two columns. Red and blue flourished initials.

12. PSALTER, in Latin [France, mid-13th century]. 135 x 99mm, single column. Blue and gold initials, one 12-line historiated initial.

13. BIBLE, in Latin [England, Oxford, mid-13th century]. 197 x 139mm, two columns. Red and blue flourished initials.

14. BIBLE, in Latin [France, late 13th century]. 404 x 268mm, two columns. One 3-line illuminated initial with bar borders extending the height of the columns, one 8-line historiated initial with bar borders as before, contemporary corrections in margins.

15. MISSAL, in Latin [France, Beauvais, late 13th century]. 286 x 199mm, two columns. Cadel initials with penwork infilling, three large illuminated initials with marginal extensions. Music: square neumes on four-line staves.

16. BREVIARY, in Latin [France, late 13th century]. 106 x 70mm, single column. Five 2-line illuminated initials with vining hairline extensions.

17. PSALTER, in Latin [England, late 13th century]. 169 x 106mm, two columns. Illuminated initials, bar borders with ivy-leaf extensions incorporating a grotesque.

18. BREVIARY, in Latin [France, late 13th century]. 148 x 110mm, two columns. Red and blue flourished initials.

19. BIBLE, in Latin [Italy, early 14th century]. 234 x 171mm, two columns. One 8-line illuminated initial with foliate infill design, red and blue flourished initial.

20. PSALTER, in Latin [Netherlands, early 14th century]. 126 x 91mm, single column. One 3-line illuminated initial, blue and gold flourished initials.

21. HYMNAL, in Latin [France, early 14th century]. 164 x 111mm, single column. One illuminated initial with a bar border and ivy leaf extensions. Music: square neumes on four-line staves.

22. MISSAL, in Latin [Germany, Würzburg, early 14th century]. 359 x 258mm, two columns. Red and blue initials. Music: German neumes on four-line staves.

23. BREVIARY, in Latin [France, mid-14th century]. 179 x 117mm, two columns. Blue and gold flourished initials with flourished decoration extending the height of the columns, 15th-century marginal annotations.

24. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [England (?), mid-14th century]. 174 x 125mm, two columns. Eleven 2-line illuminated initials with ivy-leaf extensions.

25. PSALTER, in Latin [France, late 14th century]. 123 x 171mm, single column. Two large illuminated initials with bar borders with ivy-leaf extensions.

26. MISSAL, in Latin [France, Rouen, late 14th century]. 290 x 214mm, two columns. Illuminated initials.

27. ANTIPHONAL, in Latin [Italy, early 15th century]. 329 x 245mm, single column. Large red and blue divided initials. Music: square neumes on four-line staves.

28. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [Northern France, mid-15th century]. 150 x 104mm, single column. Illuminated initials, bar border with ivy leaf extensions, all illuminated with silver (oxidized).

29. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [France, mid-15th century]. 185 x 131mm, single column. Illuminated initials, border of gold ivy leaves on hairline stems.

30. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [France, mid-15th century]. 181 x 131mm, single column. Illuminated initials, three-quarter borders of gold ivy leaves and flowers on hairline stems.

31. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [France, mid-15th century]. 184 x 127mm, single column. Illuminated initials, one-quarter borders of gold ivy leaves and flowers on hairline stems.

32. GRADUAL, in Latin [Italy, Florence, mid-15th century]. 264 x 198mm, single column. One large illuminated initial, flourished initials in red, blue, and purple. Music: square neumes on four-line staves.

33. MISSAL, in Latin [Germany, mid-15th century]. 368 x 284mm, two columns. Large red and blue initials.

34. PSALTER, in Latin [Italy, mid-15th century]. 386 x 284mm, single column. Two flourished initials in red, blue and purple, smaller blue and red initials. Music: square neumes on a three-line stave.

35. ST JEROME (c.347-420). Writings, in Latin [France, mid-15th century]. 387 x 276mm, two columns. Blue and gold initials.

36. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [France, mid-15th century]. 91 x 61mm, single column. Illuminated initials.

37. EPISTOLARY, in Latin [Italy, mid-15th century]. 287 x 216mm, single column. One large flourished initial in blue and red.

38. MISSAL, in Latin [France, Limoges, mid-15th century]. 308 x 240mm, two columns. Large red and blue flourished initials.

39. LIVY (59BC-17AD). History of Rome, in Latin [Italy, mid-15th century]. 223 x 156mm, single column.

40. ST THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-1274). Commentary on the Sentences, in Latin [Italy, late 15th century]. 285 x 211mm, two columns. Two calligraphic initials in red and blue.

41. GREGORY THE GREAT (590-604). Dialogues, in Latin [France, late 15th century]. 305 x 224mm, two columns. Five-line flourished initial in red and blue.

42. PSALTER, in Latin [Germany, Würzburg, late 15th century]. 457 x 323mm, single column. Four large blue and red initials. Music: German neumes on five-line staves, later annotations in verso margin.

43. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [Netherlands, late 15th century]. 176 x 129mm, single column. Rubricated in red and blue. One 3-line red initial with purple flourishing extending into the margin.

44. BIBLE, in Latin [Germany, late 15th century]. 415 x 273mm, two columns. One large blue initial.

45. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [France, late 15th century]. 184 x 135mm, single column. Illuminated initials, one with ivy-leaf extensions.

46. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [Northern France, late 15th century]. 162 x 119mm, single column. One large illuminated initial, borders of scrolling blue and gold acanthus interspersed with sprays of leaves and flowers.

47. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [Netherlands, late 15th century]. 176 x 132mm, single column. Two one-quarter borders, one featuring a grotesque.

48. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [Netherlands, late 15th century]. 170 x 123mm, single column. Large arch-topped miniature depicting Death’s arrow impaling a Noblewoman above a large illuminated initial within full borders of scrolling blue and gold acanthus interspersed with sprays of flowers and birds.

49. MISSAL, in Latin [Germany, early 16th century]. 394 x 294mm, two columns. Six large red and blue initials.

50. BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin [France, early 16th century]. 163 x 11mm, single column. Illuminated initials, two one-quarter border of scrolling blue and gold acanthus interspersed with sprays of flowers.


Special Notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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