Rare Books and Manuscripts

"Items from the University Libraries' Main Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, housed with the Archives and Special Collections."

A description of the Shetland Islands, comprising an account of their geology, scenery, antiquities, and superstitions.
A detailed examination of the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland. In the first part (p. 1-81), Hibbert focuses on the geological phenomenon of stratification, while the remainder of the work describes his travels throughout the islands.

Book of Hours, of Premonstratensian Use, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on Vellum [Southern Netherlands, probably Hainault. c.1500]
123 leaves, plus 3 medieval flyleaves, 161mm, by 110 mm., complete, collation: i-ii6, iii-iv8+1, v4, vi8+1, vii-x8, xi4, xii8+1, xiii8, xv-xvi8, xvii, partly with horizontal catchwords, 15 lines, ruled in red ink, written-space 107mm, by 72mm, written in dark brown ink in a gothic liturgical hand, rubrics in red, capitals touched in yellow, versal initials alternately blue with red penwork and burnished gold with purple penwork, line fillers and 2 line initials in burnished gold on pink and blue grounds with white tracery, thirteen 3-line initials with partial borders of sprays of coloured and gold leaves and petals, twelve large illuminated initials with full illuminated borders, the initials 4 lines high, the borders in designs of coloured acanthus leaves and flowers infilled with black and burnished gold dots on hairline sprays, five full page miniatures in arched compartments in matching full borders, extremities of borders slightly cropped by the binder, early sixteenth-century blind-stamped calf over pa steboards sewn on 4 thongs, panelled with multiple lines, frame formed of repeated impressions of rectangular floral and capstan stamps, vellum endleaves, lacking clasps but 2 metal catches remain on lower cover.

The relatively sparse Calendar singles out in red St. Piat (1 October, Tournai) and St. Ghislain (9 October, Mons), and the book must therefore have been made in or for use in the county of Hainault. The Office of the Virgin is of the enigmatic Use which Medan ascribes to the Premonstratensian of Adelberg, but which may be no more than a general monastic use (Bodleian Quarterly Record, III, 1920-2, p.42). The Office of the Dead has only three readings, all consistent (so far as they go) with the use at Amiens, then also (just) in the southern Netherlands. The miniatures (see below) were painted by an enclosed nun in Bruges.

Text (page numbers indicate electronic text)
A Calendar, in French (fol.2r/ page1); the Hours of the Cross (fol.15r/ page 27); the Ten Commandments (fol.21r/ page39) and the Five Commandments of the Church in French rhyming verse (fol.22/ page 42); the Hours of the Holy Ghost (fol.24r/ page 45); the Verses of St. Bernard (fol.30r/ page57); the Salve Regina, and suffrages to SS. Nicholas (page 61), Sebastian (page 62), Adrain (page 64), Anthony (page 65), Barbara (page 66) and Katherine (page 67); the Hours of the Virgin [Premonstratensian Use], with Matins (fol.37r/ page 71), Lauds (fol.47r/ page 91), Prime (fol.57r/ page 111), Terce (fol.61r/ page 119), Sext (fol.65r/ page 127), None (fol.68r/ page 133), Vespers (fol.71r/ page 139) and Compline (fol. 77r/ page 151); the Penitential Psalm (fol.82r/ page 161) and Litany; and the Office of the Dead [Use of Amiens], in short form (fol. 99r/ page196).

This remarkable manuscript was illuminated by a woman artist, Cornelia Van Wulfschkerke (d.1540), a nun of the calced Carmelite convent of Sion at Bruges. She entered the nunnery by 1495 and took her vows in 1501, and is recorded as having illuminated many manuscripts including multiple servicebooks for her own abbey and other devotional books and miniatures (J. Weale, "Le Couvent des Soeurs Notre-Dame dit de Syon", Le Breffroi, III, 1866-70, pp. 320-25; Bradley, Dictionary of Miniaturists, III, 1889, p.421; d'Ancona and Aeschlimann, Dictionnaire des Miniaturistes, 1969, p.216). Her hand has been studied by Dr. Alain Arnould, O.P. in his Cambridge Pd.D. thesis, including discussion and a secure attribution of the present miniatures to her hand. Several nuns of Sion were illuminators, including Cornelia's teacher, Grietkin Sceppers (d. 1505), and her pupil, Margriete van Rye. Any Book of Hours attributable to a named artist is a rarity, but a Book of Hours by a woman is altogether exceptional, for there is exc eedingly slight secure evidence of any female artists in the Middle Ages. The nuns of Sion, in fact, rented a stall in the Bruges art market of 't Pandt in 1512-13 (J. Wilson, Marketing Paintings in late Medieval Flanders and Brabant', Artistes, Artisans et Production artistique at Moyen Age, Colloquium, Paris, 1990, esp. p.624). Presumably they actually sold the present miniatures separately, for all are on separate sheets bound into the book. The Pentecost miniature has a contemporary title "vierge", which may be in the hand of Cornelia van Wulfschkerke.

The miniatures are:
1. The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John standing at the sides, landscape background (fol.14v/ page 26)
2. Pentecost, set among the tall pillars of a gothic church (fol.23v/ page 44)
3. The Annunciation, with the Virgin kneeling at the desk at the foot of her bed (fol.36v/ page 70)
4. David in prayer, kneeling on the grass before his palace with his hat and harp on the ground and God above (fol.81v/ page 160)
5. The Raising of Lazarus, set in a churchyard beside a fine gothic church (fol.98v/ page 195).

BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, decorated manuscript on vellum [Haarlem, c.1455-65]
Calendar, for the diocese of Utrecht, with saints especially revered in the county of Holland: Cyriacus (8 August), Hippolytus (17 August) and Jeroen in red (17 August); Office of the Virgin, use of Utrecht; Hours of Eternal Wisdom; Hours of the Cross; Hours of the Holy Spirit ; Penitential Psalms; Litany, with Jeroen, Adalbert, patron of the Abbey at Egmond; prayers before and after receiving the sacrament; Office of the Dead, use of Utrecht. The fine penwork is a s plendid example of the inventive patterning developed particularly in the northern Netherlands, where proponents of the Devotio moderna argued against excessive luxury and display. The flourishing is a mixture of styles that include 'fountain' and 'thorn and stitch' motifs and that of the 'Haarlem-Canons-Regular-Missal', written in 1447.

Dutch Missal (Major Feasts (Christmas, Easter, etc.), Proper of Saints, Canon, and some Masses for the Common), manuscript on vellum, the Netherlands, ca. 1475
Text and music for mass Prefaces for ferial days and for major feasts, including the Nativity, Epiphany, Easter, etc. Sasses for the first Sunday of Advent, SS Andrew, Barbara, second Sunday of Advent. Christmas Eve, dawn mass for the Nativity, Nativity Mass, St. Stephen Protomartyr, John the Evangelist, Innocents, Circumcision, Chair of St Peter, Matthew Apostle, four Sundays of Lent, Pope Gregory, Passion, St Ambrose, Epiphany, Purification of BVM, Annunciation, Easter Sunday, Ascension, St. John Baptist, SS Peter and Paul, Visitation, Vigil of the Assumption, Assumption, St Augustine, Nativity of BVM and Office of the Conception, St. Michael Archangel; Prefaces for the Octave of the Lord's Nativity and other Feast days; Canon of the Mass, including a Creed. masses for the Apostles Phillip and James, Invention of the Cross, Exaltation of the Cross, Pentecost, Holy Trinity etc. Scores of Lombard initials in blue and red, with typical rubrication. Over fifty decorated initials, two- to four-lines or even larger, in blue or red with red penwork infilled with green and with penwork extensions.