BOOK OF HOURS, use of Sarum, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[England, first half 15th century]
250 x 170mm. 78 + 2 leaves, the final two are partial leaves from an early 15th-century English missal, with two-line initials in blue with red flourishing, recovered from a binding, the main text foliated in pencil in the lower right corners of rectos, the first leaf of each main text excised, sometimes leaving a stub with illumination, other leaves also missing, framed catchwords often survive, once in the form of a bird f.6v, prickings occasionally survive, ruled in pale red ink with two verticals and twenty horizontals, justification: 140 x 90 mm, written in a fine regular gothic formal bookhand in black ink, rubrics in red, capitals touched with a reddish-brown wash, TWO-LINE INITIALS THROUGHOUT IN HIGHLY BURNISHED GOLD on grounds of red and blue with while ornament, with green and gold leafy sprays extending into the margin, one-line initials and paraphs alternately gold with blue flourishing or blue with red flourishing, occasional line-fillers in blue or blue and gold (some abrasion of ink, some thumbing, minor water-staining at the top edge towards the end of the volume). Early 18th-century brown calf, with a blind-tooled panel and gilt fillets, the spine with later red leather title-pieces (upper joint worn, fore-edge corners skilfully renewed).
Perhaps made for an English cathedral priory: the rubrics are unusually specific in some of their directions in mentioning the bishop, dean, cantor, chancellor, and treasurer (ff.35v-36), priest (f.44), and ordinal (f.37); other directions indicate that short passages of text are to be said silently ('sine pronunciacione', ff.43, 53v; 'sub silencio', f.44v) suggesting that the book was to be read communally, not for private devotion. The church of Salisbury is also mentioned (f.55).
Cotterell family, 16th century: inscribed 'Ye shall pray for the saules of Edward Cotterell & Margaret hys wyff, & of Roger, Thomas, John, William, Jane, Amey, Elizabeth, chylderyn of the seid Edwarde & Margaret' (f.ii verso).
Sir Robert Throckmorton (1702-91), Bart., with his armorial bookplate (Franks no.29425, reproduced in Edward Almack, Bookplates, 1904, facing p.50).
John Meade Falkner (1858-1932), author, arms manufacturer, palaeographer, and Librarian of Durham cathedral (see A.S.G. Edwards, 'Medieval Manuscripts Owned by J. Meade Falkner', in J. Marrow, R. Linenthal, and W. Noel (eds), The Medieval Book, 2010, pp.387-94, citing the present manuscript as 'not located' at pp.388 and 391); his sale, Sotheby's, 12-14 December 1932, lot 211; bought by Creswick for £14.
H.R. Creswick (1902-88), Librarian successively of the Bodleian and Cambridge University Library, probably foliated by him; sold at Sotheby's, 3 April 1939, lot 44; bought by Edwards for £8 10s.
Charles F. Cutts (1871-1949), bought at 'Dawson's Book Shop, Los Angeles, 1940' (f.i).
Hours of the Virgin, with the Hours of the Cross mixed-in, beginning imperfectly after lauds in a suffrage to Mary Magdalene, ff.1-13v; Penitential Psalms, Litany, and collects ff.14-22v; Office of the Dead, Use of Sarum, ff.23-45v; Commendation of Souls ff.46-55; ruled, otherwise blank f.55v; the Fifteen O's ff.56-60v; prayer Gracias ago tibi domine f.61r-v; the Passion according to St John ff.61v-62v; prayer on the Seven Last Words, attributed to Bede, ff.62v-64; the Verses of St Bernard f.64r-v; the Psalter of St Jerome ff.64v-73v; the Psalms of the Passion ff.74-78v.
Although now lacking the opening leaf of every main text and, consequently, all its major illumination, this is an elegantly written and attractively decorated corpus of what was, until the Reformation, one of the most common types of medieval English book. It has been owned by a series of discerning collectors.