13 September 2011

Bound But Not Forgotten #2: 15C Manuscript Leaves

This week's binding fragments are two mid fifteenth-century manuscript pastedowns found in a seventeenth-century binding. The fragments are nearly contemporary with the printing a 1476 edition of Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda aurea and were possibly recycled as pastedowns at least twice in their history.

According to Christopher de Hamel the fragments preserve clear impressions offset from typical diaper ruling of late medieval bindings and may well have been with the volume since the fifteenth century. This suggests the parent manuscript had a fairly short existence, perhaps being irreparably damaged.

The fragments were visible beneath the overlaid seventeenth-century pastedowns, which were removed in 1984 to allow for access to the manuscripts. The text remained unidentified until this month and appears to be from Bonaventure's De Christi Humanitate, part of chapters 22 to 24. The front leaf (fig. 1) concerns Christ's descent into Hell and the beginning of the chapter on his Resurrection. The rear leaf (fig. 2) comprises further text on the Resurrection and the opening of the chapter on Christ's Ascension.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

The book itself has a very interesting and well documented provenance, which will be the subject of a future post.


Legenda aurea sanctorum, sive Lombardica historia. Cologne: Conrad Winters, de Homborch, 8 Nov. 1476 (shelfmark: RBC Jac 1476). ISTC ij00086000; GW M11193.

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