(France: First half of 14th century). 110 x 82 mm. (4 3/8 x 3 1/4"). Single column, 12 lines in a gothic book hand.

Rubrics in red, line enders in pink and blue with gold accents, each leaf with one or more one-line initials in blue with red penwork or gold with blue penwork, and each with one two-line initial painted blue or pink, filled with either decorative shapes or INHABITED BY A HUMAN HEAD, all on a gold ground, one side of each leaf WITH A FULL OR NEAR-FULL BORDER composed of pink and blue tendrils accompanied by spikey gold decoration and gold accents, often terminating in ivy leaves, and incorporating EXTRAORDINARILY CHARMING EXAMPLES OF MARGINALIA, INCLUDING ANIMALS, HUMAN HEADS, AND HYBRIDS. Vellum a bit soiled, two leaves with some obvious staining and rubbing affecting some of the text and decoration, two leaves with small sections excised by a former owner (affecting a few lines of text in one case, and presumably removing some decoration), but each leaf with at least one piece of marginalia very well preserved.

Though diminutive in size, these leaves contain enormously appealing marginal decoration in the form of humans, animals, and hybrid creatures inventively incorporated into the lively borders in manners that range from adorable to bizarre. Especially popular in Flanders, Northern France, and England during the 13th and 14th centuries, marginalia such as these comprise some of the most memorable and entertaining images to be found in any Medieval manuscripts. Despite being found largely in religious books such as Psalters and Books of Hours, the images are often strange, humorous, or even outrageous, and they provide us with consistent delight. Being by definition outside of the central text or miniature, the margins seem to have been a place where illuminators felt more at ease to experiment, resulting in highly imaginative and unique artistic expressions. The present specimens come from a fragmentary manuscript, with many leaves either missing or rendered defective where portions of the vellum were cut away, as here. Fortunately, our leaves retain much marvelous imagery, including human heads attached to the ends of border tendrils (one with a very tall, striped hat), a bright orange weasel, and two hybrid creatures, one wearing a strange gold headpiece and another with the head of a human and the body of a two-legged beast with a human face for a bottom. Though fragmentary in appearance, these leaves present an excellent opportunity to acquire nice examples of marginalia at an affordable price. For additional leaves from this same manuscript at different price points, please check our website.