A Diamond in the Rough

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 47/52

   The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia 10a 189, De fructibus vescendis, fol. 1r

Baptista Massa de Argenta, De fructibus vescendis (On Edible Fruits), Philadelphia, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, fol. 1r

The detailed catalogue of the pre-modern manuscripts held at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, produced by Peter Kidd in 2015, shed light on the provenance of one of two known manuscript copies of an obscure treatise written by an even more obscure physician, a certain Baptista Massa de Argenta, who is known only for writing this text.1 Today, I wish only to add a hypothetical observation that could serve to bolster the argument that the Philadelphia copy of the text (as opposed to the version preserved at the Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea in Ferrara, MS Cl. I 340) is indeed the presentation exemplar, later used as a model for a rare printed edition.

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“This is our first original manuscript and is a prized possession.”

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 46/52

Pierre Mésenge, Journal de sainct voyage pour visiter le sainct sepulcre, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr College Library, MS 13, fol. 1r

The title of this post refers to a statement made by Lois A. Reed in the Report of the President to the Board of Directors of Bryn Mawr College in 1942, when the manuscript that is the subject of the present post, a copy of Pierre Mésenge of Rouen’s itinerary to the Holy Land, was presented to the institution by Howard Lehman Goodhart (1884–1951).1 H. L. Goodhart was a renowned collector of antiquarian books and a lifelong enthusiastic supporter of his daughter, college alumna and noted Renaissance historian Phyllis Goodhart Gordan (BMC ’35).2 While Bryn Mawr’s holdings of European pre-modern manuscripts now number some 53 items (all fully digitized and freely available via the BiblioPhilly interface and OPenn), this was, apparently, the first codex to be illuminated by the glow of the Lantern, so to speak.

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“Money without health is worse by half”

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 45/52

Book of Hours for the Use of Noyon, Newark (DE), University of Delaware, Morris Library, MSS 95, item 31, unnumbered flyleaf i recto and fol. 83r (beginning of the Office of the Dead with miniature of the Raising of Lazarus)

A relatively recent arrival in the Philadelphia region, this late-fifteenth-century Book of Hours of the Use of Noyon contains an interesting series of provenance inscriptions that provide palpable insight into the manuscript’s multi-generational heirloom status in early modern France. As we shall see, one early owner’s poetic inscription, in particular, sheds light on a seemingly perennial human preoccupation: balancing health and financial well-being.

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Pennsylvania Dutch

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 44/52

https://openn.library.upenn.edu/Data/0038/MS_146/data/web/9363_0030_web.jpg   9363_0030_web
South Netherlands Book of Hours (The Hawley Hours), Lancaster, Franklin & Marshall College, Shadek-Fackenthal Library, Misc. Ms. 146, fol. 13r (with detail)

Part of the joy of the BiblioPhilly project is that it encompasses institutions of all kinds and sizes, from large and well-known repositories of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts like the Free Library of Philadelphia, right down to smaller institutions that have just a single such codex in their collections. This is case for Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The College’s Shadek-Fackenthal Library houses this North Netherlandish Book of Hours of circa 1470, which I assumed was effectively unknown in the scholarship on Dutch manuscript illumination, since it only came to the College in 1988 as a gift of Elaine Hawley (widow of the novelist Cameron Hawley) and is therefore absent from the Seymour de Ricci census of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the United States and its Supplement.1 There is also no mention of the Franklin & Marshall book in the catalogue of the landmark exhibition of Dutch manuscripts held at the Morgan Library & Museum in 1990, which did however include many examples of the genre held in other North American libraries.2 The manuscript is also not present (as of yet) in the otherwise amazingly comprehensive Luxury Bound corpus of manuscripts illustrated in the Netherlands (1400-1550).

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Kendall of Colchester’s Quaker Connection

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 43/52

Bible from Northern France, Haverford College, Quaker & Special Collections, 1250 J2.16.10, fol. 1r

A thirteenth-century Parisian Bible, held until 2002 at the Monthly Meeting of Friends Library but now on permanent deposit at Haverford College, represents an unusually early arrival of a European manuscript in the Philadelphia region, and in the New World more generally.1 In the introduction to the Leaves of Gold: Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections exhibition catalogue, James Tanis briefly mentioned the manuscript’s early provenance in America and illustrated one of its historiated initials.2 This was the first time that any image of the manuscript had been reproduced. Now, of course, the volume has been entirely digitized as part of the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project. In his essay, Tanis drew attention to an autograph inscription on the flyleaf written by John Pemberton, a leader of the local Friends community, which records his purchase of the book from John Kendall of Colchester, Great Britain, on 13 June 1787, for the sum of 1 Guinea. 

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Italian with a French Accent (Part II): Attributing the Illuminations of Lewis E 207

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 42/52

Prayer Book, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 207, fol. 1r (miniature of the Presentation in the Temple); Gian Giacomo Trivulzio in Prayer before Saint Jerome, Trivulzio Hours, Madrid, Biblioteca Lazaro Galdiano, inv. 15454, fol. 16v (miniature of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio in Prayer before Saint Jerome)

Back in October, I posted about the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Lewis E 207, an unusual northern Italian prayer book that is prefaced by four abbreviated prayers from the Hours of the Virgin, each illustrated by a miniature executed in a naive but charming style and surrounded by illusionistic flower stems that seem to be threaded through the page. In conducting further research on this item for the Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries exhibition, I contacted Professor Pier Luigi Mulas of the University of Pavia, an expert in Lombard illumination of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, who very helpfully suggested some interesting stylistic comparisons and the potential identity of the artist responsible for the images and the borders.

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