The Medieval Manuscript from Charlemagne to Gutenberg

The LIS 464 team, 2017


Title of the Course: “The Medieval Manuscript from Charlemagne to Gutenberg” (LIS 464)

Instructor: Dr. Lisa Fagin Davis

InstitutionSimmons University School of Library and Information Science (Boston, MA, USA)

Summary: The students in LIS 464 are training to become American rare book librarians, studying cataloguing, metadata, linked-data models, and image services. The curriculum of the course therefore includes a detailed introduction to identifying, researching, and cataloguing Books of Hours, which are relatively common in North American collections. Since the fall of 2017, the final project in this class has been a virtual Fragmentarium-based reconstruction of one of the Books of Hours dismembered by Otto F. Ege in the mid-twentieth century. Ege and his wife Louise used the leaves of fifty manuscripts to create the “Fifty Original Leaves of Medieval Manuscripts” portfolios. Because the leaves in these portfolios are always sequenced the same way, Number 5 in one portfolio comes from the same manuscript as Number 5 in every other portfolio of the same name. There are leaves of ten different Books of Hours in the “Fifty Original Leaves” portfolios. Thirty-one of these portfolios have been identified in public collections in North America; therefore, thirty-one leaves from each of these ten Books of Hours can be easily identified for study. For their final project, each student is assigned images of one leaf from the subject manuscript to research and catalogue in Fragmentarium. The class then works together to sequence the leaves and create a Fragmentarium reconstruction. Finally, the class conducts research on the reconstructed manuscript, using the clues in the text and decoration to draw conclusions about the contents, Use, origin, and history of the manuscript.

“Fifty Original Leaves” no. 30 (2017) < https>: The students analyzed the saints in the preserved section of the Litany and the responsories and versicles of the Office of the Dead to determine that the manuscript was originally written for the Use of Paris. By searching for the dimensions of the leaves and the known contents of the reconstructed manuscript in the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, they were able to identify several early-twentieth-century sales of the whole manuscript and identify it as the codex purchased by collector Coella Lindsay Ricketts from dealer Bernard Quaritch in 1922 and sold by Parke-Bernet Galleries in 1939. It was dismembered by Ege or his sometime business partner Philip Duschnes soon thereafter. As a result of this research, the manuscript can be identified as Ricketts no. 116 in the 1935 de Ricci Census, and the Schoenberg Database has been updated to reflect this new identification.1

“Fifty Original Leaves” no. 29 (2018) : The liturgy preserved on the collected leaves suggested that this manuscript was made for the Use of Rome.

“Fifty Original Leaves” no. 28 (2019) : The thirteen leaves from the Office of the Dead preserved sufficient Matins responsories and versicles to assign this manuscript the Use of Rome.

“Fifty Original Leaves” no. 46 (2020) :  For this Book of Hours, Use was determinable due to the survival of the antiphon and chapter reading for None of the Hours of the Virgin, seven recovered Matins responsories for the Office of the Dead, and the Lauds short lesson "In omnibus requiem," which Dominique Stutzmann has identified as Rouen Use.

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