A Large-Format Bible Leaf with Papal Knots And a Very Substantial Scribal Omission


(France or England: first quarter of 13th century). 300 x 203 mm. (11 7/8 x 8"). Double column, 63 lines in a fine gothic pearl script.

Matted. Rubrics in red, running titles and chapter numbers in red and blue, six three-line initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork, and two large puzzle initials in red and blue with intricate penwork decoration. With a large block of text in lower margin (double column, 14-15 lines), indicating a section left out by the original scribe, apparently in a different hand (but from the same period). Light, narrow dampstaining (or perhaps just a thinning of the vellum) along lower edge, faint soiling in margins, inks slightly faded in some places (not affecting legibility), but A FINE SPECIMEN--very clean, with large margins, and with the prominent initials especially fresh and pretty.

With an attractive script, charming puzzle initials, and very comfortable margins, this is an especially nice example of a 13th century large-format Bible leaf. Though the majority of such Bibles were produced in France during this period, the use of so-called "papal knots" on the ascenders in the top line is a characteristically English feature, suggesting that the manuscript may have been either produced in the British Isles or at least written by an English scribe. Of special interest is the substantial block of text in the lower margin of the recto--apparently an error of omission by the original scribe--which comes from Jerome's preface to Zephaniah. The two red slashes in the left column indicate where the text is meant to be inserted. The scribe who corrected this oversight was fortunate to have such massive margins to work with, as this passage of text consists of about 15 lines of text in two columns.