Written in an Extremely Attractive Humanistic Hand

(Italy: ca. 1450). 355 x 220 mm. (12 3/8 x 8 3/4"). Single column, 31 lines in a humanist hand.

Seven two-line initials painted red or blue. Recovered from a binding and thus with some expected soiling and fold lines, one side quite abraded but with about half the text still readable (the other side entirely legible), painted initials somewhat faded, a handful of wormholes affecting a few words of text, but despite the wear and tear, still a very pleasing leaf in a fine hand.

In a very good state of preservation for a recovered specimen, the present leaf comes from a copy of Cicero's "De Officiis," a treatise on duties which Cicero wrote shortly before his death to instruct his son, who was dawdling over his studies in Athens. Our leaf contains text from the second book (including parts of sections 47-50 and 65-69), which primarily deals with honorable actions, personal advantages, better living, and usefulness. The humanist hand exhibited here is based on the earlier Caroline minuscule that dominated Western Europe between approximately 800 and 1150. Both styles are highly legible and quite elegant in their simplicity, being characterized by neat lettering and generous spacing between letter forms. Medieval manuscript material containing non-liturgical texts is increasingly hard to come by, and this example is quite desirable as a bifolium, a model of fine humanist script, and an illustration of binding use and re-use.