BIBLE with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[England, third quarter 13th century]
152 x 103mm. ii + 579 + ii leaves: 120(i-x inserted on stubs), 2-320, 4-516, 621(i a singleton), 7-1220, 1318, 14-1520, 1618, 1722, 18-2120, 2218, 23-2422, 2520, 2624, 2720, 2812, 2918, 3012, apparently COMPLETE, early foliation, beginning at f.5, in brown ink at upper outer corner, one catchword extant at foot of final verso of gathering, two columns of 47 lines written in a small gothic bookhand in brown/black ink between four verticals and 48 horizontals ruled in plummet or brown ink, justification: 100 x 66mm, two to four additional pairs of horizontals in upper and lower margins on some leaves, versal initials touched red, rubrics in red (intermittent), running-headings and chapter numbers in alternate letters of red and blue, each chapter opening with a blue or red initial flourished in the contrasting colour or in both colours, 63 PUZZLE INITIALS in red and blue, of varying sizes including text-height Genesis initial, flourished in both colours, 10 LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS with staves of grey or pink with patterning in white against grounds of blue, dark pink and burnished gold, with scrolling infills in similar colours with dragonhead terminals (slight wear to f.1, occasional ink corrosion, fading or browning with loss of text, a few running-headings cropped, one leaf lacking lower corner and restored to size, a few marginal repairs, f.548 torn across corner). Late 18th-century red morocco gilt, the spine tooled in compartments, modern slipcase and box (extremities rubbed, spine partially detached from textblock).
1. The manuscript contains signs of early ownership; extensive marginal annotations have been added in a 13th-century hand, and the owner of the Bible in the late 15th century has supplied rubrics, in Latin, at the openings of many of the Books.
2. George Lloyd, October 1838 (inscription inside upper cover).
Vulgate Bible with Prologues ff.1-547v; List of readings for the ecclesiastical year added in a different hand ff.547v-549v; Interpretation of Hebrew Names ff.550-579v.
Typical in format of the small, one-volume portable Bibles produced in the 13th century, this manuscript does not contain a Psalter - a common feature of English Bibles. It displays an elaborate programme of decoration, with penwork flourishing often extending to the height of text or even page, and large 'puzzle' initials of divided staves of red and blue - the blue the bright pale shade that is a distinctive feature of English decoration. It is interesting that an illuminator has then chosen to mark the openings of ten Books, from Daniel to Malachi, with large illuminated initials, perhaps indicating two stages of production. The foliate scrolling, circular patterning to staves and palette are consistent with features of English illumination in the third quarter of the 13th century.