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Bible. Vulgate

Reference code
Bible. Vulgate
late 13th century
Level of description
Extent and format
Vellum (uterine); estimated ff. 387.
Very small quarto.
Present binding, sheepskin, brown, tanned, probably 17th century (see the report by Dr Mirjam Foot on file in SAL), blind-tooled panel design. Signs of missing clasp or tie fitting. Three vellum stubs between the two front vellum flyleaves.
Scope and content
Vulgate bible; late 13th century. Text in two columns of 52 lines. Contents typical of bibles written in France but lacks Psalms (blank vellum leaf follows Job). Includes Esdras II (after Nehemiah), Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Maccabees I, II. Prologues mostly the standard set of St Jerome (cf. the list of incipits in Ker, MMBL, I (1969), 96-7, with references to Stegmüller, Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, I (Madrid, 1950); but lacks Stegmüller nos. 357, 468, 491, 507, 513, 521, 531, 547, 553, 589, 699, 839, and includes 506, 530, 596, 601, 835. The common interpretations of Hebrew names (Stegmüller no. 7709) follow the Apocalypse. Two vellum leaves at the end of the volume have erased text, in two columns, apparently relating to liturgical readings, of epistles, etc. Two large historiated initials: at the beginning of the general prologue a portrait bust of St Jerome? (red, orange/brown, on blue background); at the beginning of Genesis a standing figure above a grotesque dragon (same colours). Penwork decoration in red and blue between columns, extended to foot of pages; some penwork drawings: crested bird (Wisdom, cap. 8), two birds (Ecclesiasticus, cap. 30), long-tailed animal (Isaiah, cap. 30). A few decorative line-fillings. Marginal annotations throughout, early 14th-late 15th century, mostly consisting of corrections, short commentaries (including a formal notes on three weanings ('tres ablactationes'), etc., apparently a reference to the weaning of Samuel, Kings I, i. 22-23); some liturgical notes in margins of Gospels, and concordances in the Epistles. Elaborate embroidered mends (date uncertain) to tears at the top and side edges of many leaves, mostly in red and blue flossed silk (one example in Ecclesiasticus, caps. 39-40, includes green). The most elaborate mend, semi-circular, occurs in Zacharias, cap. 8; within the semi-circle and below, on the recto and verso, a late 15th century hand noted words at the ends of lines affected by the tear. Similar embroidered mends are to be found in Paris, Bib. Nat., MS lat. 1045, fol. 160, and MS nouv.acq.lat. 3212, fol. 310; see the illustration in the exhibition catalogue, S. Coron, M. Lefèvre (eds.), Livres en broderie. Reliures françaises du Moyen Age à nos jours (Paris, 1996), no. 194 (inf. Dr. Mirjam Foot, FSA). The bible was owned by William Morris.
Previous reference number(s)
Archival history
Owned by William Morris, FSA (d.1896). Label, front pastedown, of his library at Kelmscott House, Hammersmith; possibly no.875 in the library catalogue, 1890 (microfilm in BL, Dept. of MSS, RP 1355). In pencil on the front pastedown '19/7'. Lot 38 in the sale of MSS and books from Morris's library (Sotheby's, 5 Dec.1898). Subsequently item 2 (priced at £25) in a dealer's catalogue of items from Morris's library (cutting with MS). The calendar, mentioned in this cutting, is not now preserved (?cut out after first flyleaf). Dealers' prices (£10 and £25) in pencil on the first flyleaf. Pencil note, ?by a dealer, '387 leaves'. Inserted folded leaf, lined paper, gives a brief description (based on the sale-cat.?). Poem by 'F.C.B.', typed, one quarto sheet, paper, describes the MS and Morris's ownership. Acquired by Sir George H.Radford, MP (d. 1917). Bequeathed by his youngest daughter, Miss Ursula Radford, FSA (d. 1976) together with various Kelmscott Press books which passed to Kelmscott Manor, 1977. This volume was presented by her niece, Mrs Chloe Morton, 6 Oct.1994.