Saturday 25 July 2015

A Characteristic Quaritch Marking

Several years ago I began to put images of provenance marks on a website, which has rarely been updated since, except the page about the Duke of Sussex's library.

One page on that site concerns the price-codes of Bernard Quaritch Ltd. a business that is still going strong in London, despite several changes of premises since being founded by Bernard Quaritch himself in London in 1847.

Looking at images on Harvard University's Houghton Library website recently, I found a few images that all illustrate a particular type of Quaritch annotation, that can be useful in identifying manuscripts they sold in the early decades of the 20th century.

Once you've seen a few, they are easily recognisable, so it seemed worth putting them one after another here:
Houghton MS Typ 201 [source]

Sunday 19 July 2015

Ormesby Manuscripts from Norwich Cathedral

The name "Ormesby" immediately suggests to any manuscripts specialist the Bodleian Library's wonderful Ormesby Psalter (MS. Douce 366), apparently given to Norwich cathedral by Robert de Ormesby in the first half of the 14th century. But there were at least two other men named Ormesby, and there are at least two other manuscripts inscribed with that name, that belonged to Norwich cathedral in the same century.

One is reasonably well known: Cambridge, University Library, MS Kk.4.3, is a 13th-century volume containing several glossed Old Testament books. It has a Norwich Cathedral press-mark "G.xxxiij" and an inscription recording its gift by W. de Ormesby, rector of St Mary in the Marsh, Norwich:
"Liber comunitatis monachor[um] Ecc[lesi]e s[an]c[t]e Trinitatis Nor-
wyci. de dono d[omi]ni .W. de Ormesby Recoris s[an]c[t]e Marie
de Marisco.
In hoc uolumine contine[n]tur. Josue. Iudicum. Ruht [sic].
Regum. Paralipomenon. Esdras. Neemias. glosati."

Saturday 11 July 2015

A French 13th-Century Psalter at Smith College

Smith College, Northampton, MA, MS. 291, p.13
[All images from Digital Scriptorium]
Smith College, Massachusetts, is the most recent institution to join the Digital Scriptorium consortium. It has digitized 10 medieval manuscripts in their entirety and added them to the site.

I visited Smith for the first time last November, and wrote one post as a result, but have always intended to do more. Here I return to my notes on MS 291, a mid 13th-century Psalter.

Saturday 4 July 2015

The Herbert Bier Archive at the Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection in London is, among other things, a centre for the study of provenance, with a regular evening seminar on the History of Collecting, but until recently I had never used the Library, which owns the archive of the Jewish art dealer Herbert Bier (1905–1981), who emigrated from Germany to London in 1938.

The Archive consists of five main types of document:
  • Stock cards
  • Stock books
  • Photographs
  • Correspondence
  • Account books
Numerous medieval leaves and miniatures passed through Bier's hands, often part-owned with other dealers. As an example of how the Archive can be used to elucidate the recent provenance of such items, I give two examples below, leaves from the same manuscript.