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Fine Books, Western Manuscripts and Works on Paper

Wednesday 06th December 2017: 10:30am GMT

5

Hammer Price: £3,200

Full Lot Details

Twelfth century English Bible.- Five large fragments from a giant Latin Bible, decorated manuscript on parchment, five stripsfrom a single large bifolium, each c. 395 x 60 mm, three strips cut horizontally from bifolium, two vertically, remains of double column, up to 41 lines, finely written in two different sizes in an English early gothic hand, in black ink, small initials alternating in green and red, three larger initials in green, blue, and red, the latter holding baubles, numbered in pencil by N.R. Ker in July 1974, all re-used in binding, therefore somewhat defective, a few scuffs and folds; discoloured in places, England, early 12th century.

These five large vertical cuttings, once in the famous library of Ampleforth Abbey, are all that survive of a lost monumental English Romanesque Bible, written in two columns on thick parchment of excellent quality.

The most complete fragment contains 41 lines, and in all likelihood only one line of text is missing: we can therefore suggest that the original leaf measured at least 456 mm by 315 mm. Manuscript English Bibles with similar or comparable dimensions can be counted on one hand: the Bury Bible (c. 1130, 525 x 320 mm; Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 211); the Lambeth Bible (c. 1150, 520 x 325 mm; Lambeth Palace, MS 3), the Lothian Bible (c. 1220, 470 x 320mm; New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS 791), while the Northumberland Bible (c. 1250-60; sold at Sotheby's, 8 July 2014, lot 49) measured 'only' 325 mm by 210 mm.

The fragments offered here are from the capitula of I Maccabees; they contain the text of 1:3-62 and 4:18-5 and 23, and include part of the running title 'liber' in the upper margin on one leaf, and instructions for the rubricator ('expliciunt capitula. Incipit ad maccabeorum').

Fragments from English Romanesque Giant Bibles are of the greatest rarity, and only two are recorded in private hands. In Ker's census Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts Used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings(2004), among the 2,200 fragments recorded, not a single one is from a twelfth- century English Bible of similar size.

Provenance: From the library of Ampleforth Abbey (MS 281; see N. R. Ker,Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, 1977, vol. 2, p. 43); Sotheby's, 7 December 2010, lot 14.

Full Lot Details

Twelfth century English Bible.- Five large fragments from a giant Latin Bible, decorated manuscript on parchment, five stripsfrom a single large bifolium, each c. 395 x 60 mm, three strips cut horizontally from bifolium, two vertically, remains of double column, up to 41 lines, finely written in two different sizes in an English early gothic hand, in black ink, small initials alternating in green and red, three larger initials in green, blue, and red, the latter holding baubles, numbered in pencil by N.R. Ker in July 1974, all re-used in binding, therefore somewhat defective, a few scuffs and folds; discoloured in places, England, early 12th century.

These five large vertical cuttings, once in the famous library of Ampleforth Abbey, are all that survive of a lost monumental English Romanesque Bible, written in two columns on thick parchment of excellent quality.

The most complete fragment contains 41 lines, and in all likelihood only one line of text is missing: we can therefore suggest that the original leaf measured at least 456 mm by 315 mm. Manuscript English Bibles with similar or comparable dimensions can be counted on one hand: the Bury Bible (c. 1130, 525 x 320 mm; Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 211); the Lambeth Bible (c. 1150, 520 x 325 mm; Lambeth Palace, MS 3), the Lothian Bible (c. 1220, 470 x 320mm; New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS 791), while the Northumberland Bible (c. 1250-60; sold at Sotheby's, 8 July 2014, lot 49) measured 'only' 325 mm by 210 mm.

The fragments offered here are from the capitula of I Maccabees; they contain the text of 1:3-62 and 4:18-5 and 23, and include part of the running title 'liber' in the upper margin on one leaf, and instructions for the rubricator ('expliciunt capitula. Incipit ad maccabeorum').

Fragments from English Romanesque Giant Bibles are of the greatest rarity, and only two are recorded in private hands. In Ker's census Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts Used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings(2004), among the 2,200 fragments recorded, not a single one is from a twelfth- century English Bible of similar size.

Provenance: From the library of Ampleforth Abbey (MS 281; see N. R. Ker,Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, 1977, vol. 2, p. 43); Sotheby's, 7 December 2010, lot 14.