Bibles were produced in great numbers in the 13th century, especially in Paris, for scholars, churches, priests and traveling friars. Paris is also where a revision to the order of the books took place. This format was referred to as the “Paris Bible,” and followed the Greek ordering of the books more than the traditional Latin sequence. Other changes to the bible from this time include a reduction in its size, minute and angular script, use of very thin parchment, and elaborate illuminations used to decorate both the text and margins.
Inscriptions throughout the book tell us that this bible was owned by a Richard Wyll in 1482, a William Add[...], date unknown, and a Robert Mirfield in 1523. It was acquired for the price of 1 guinea by American Quaker minister John Pemberton from John Kendall in Colchester on June 13, 1787. Pemberton gave it to the library of the Friends Meeting, Philadelphia in the late 18th century and it was loaned indefinitely to Haverford in 2002.
Psalms and Song of Songs manuscript, 15th century
Contains a liturgical calendar, the book of psalms and several canticles or hymns taken from the bible. Bound in faded brown velvet, illuminated in gold and colors, and features intricate ornamental borders. The presence of English saints listed in the calendar—Chad, Cuthbert, Oswald—points to an English provenance. The calendar also matches the Sarum (Salisbury) rite, the most common liturgical usage in Medieval England.
Psalters were used for private devotion in the Middle Ages by wealthy lay people. Many were made for women and often they were given as wedding presents from a husband to his bride. A prayer at the end of this book asks, “Grant, Lord Jesus Christ, that these short verses may be effective for me, your servant N., and John your servant, both for remission of all our sins and for providing a time of living well.” N. may stand for John’s wife, or may be a placeholder for a future bride.
Sometime before 1455 Johann Gutenberg, a goldsmith or glazier from the town of Mainz, set up what most scholars believe was the first printing press. Gutenberg is thought to have printed a number of pamphlets before turning his attention to the bible. His shop would have included multiple printing presses and employed several in the production of the bible.
Also called the 42-line Bible, the text appears in a Gothic type that approximates a script typical of manuscripts, including the use of scribal abbreviations. Space in the text allows for the addition of hand-colored or rubricated letters. The paper was imported from Caselle, Italy, an important 15th century paper-making center. Watermarks and their arrangement within the bible suggest a print run of 130-180 copies.
Our leaf is from Exodus 31 and comes from a copy once owned by Princess Elizabeth Augusta of Bavaria. In 1920 it was sold to book dealer Gabriel Wells who broke it up and sold individual leaves.
Verified as the first printed edition of Dante’s great work, the volume is dated April 11, 1472 produced in Foligno, Italy by printer Johann Neumeister.
All three cantiche (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) appear in one volume and each is begun with a hand-illuminated initial. Rubricated letters begin each canto. The volume is bound in fine 18th-century leather with gilt tooling and is housed in a similar slipcase.
Our copy is one of only nine existing in the United States.
Printing was introduced in Venice in 1469 and many of its first printers were from Germany. Venice went on to become the largest producer of printed books in the 15th century. Twenty editions of the bible were published in Venice in the 15th century while only 27 were produced in all of Italy.
This bible is called a “Fontibus ex Graecis” bible. These were the first bibles to utilize original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to improve upon the common Latin Vulgate. It was printed by Johannes Herbort de Seligenstadt in April of 1484. The illuminated initials and rubrication were added by hand after the printing had been completed.
Written in Paris ca. 1230. Double columns, 56 lines, foliated. Single decorated P in puzzle style in red and blue, red and blue initials.
The text is Colossians 1.1-1 Thessalonians 2?
This leaf was originally from the collection of Otto Ege, an American art historian and well-known book breaker (taking it apart and selling the leaves separately), who broke this manuscript.
Written in Italy or Southern France, ca. 1280. Double columns, 48 lines. Blue and red chapter heads and running headers. One large decorative initial. Includes two examples of eye-ship error. and marginal Corrections.
Test is John 6.9-7.39.
Otto Ege collection, sold ca. 1954 in the portfolio 50 Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts.
Venetiis : In aedibus Aldi, 1501.
This book contains 16 satires of Juvenal and 6 of Persius. It is the first edition of Juvenal published by Aldus Manutius, the famous Venetian printer known for inventing italic type, popularizing small-format books, and producing the first printed (rather than manuscript) editions of many Greek and Roman authors.
Most of the books are organized in a three column format except in Psalms and Job which have two columns, each containing 30 lines. At the end of every section there is a gold U-shaped design that contains the number of verses in each section, written in smaller print. One exception is after Psalms which has an illustration of a harp instead. The Torah is traditionally divided up into weekly portions called Parashas. The start of each portion is indicated by an illumination in the margin with the number of the Parsha in the center of the illustration. Similar illustrations mark the beginning of each chapter of Psalms.
The colophon reads, in part, "I, Shlomo, son of Moshe (may his memory be blessed) have written and passed on these twenty-four books to the esteemed and learned Rabbi Yehoshua, son of the esteemed and learned Rabbi Zicharya, the honored son of the wise and venerable Sh’alti’el (may his likeness be guarded and kept alive). May God enable him, his children and his children’s children to meditate upon." The manuscript was written in 1266; it was purchased by a Sephardic Jew in Egypt in 1750 or 1751 according to another note in the book.