([s.l. mid-20th century?]). 260 x 183 mm. (10 3/8 x 7 1/4").  leaves. Single column, 24 lines in a fine calligraphic hand.
Olive patterned paper boards, smooth spine, red morocco label. Half titles in blue, opening lines of each section in gold, with several two-line initials in red, blue, or gold, and three historiated initials depicting the head of a Native American in a colorful headdress; a teepee; and a landscape scene. Front pastedown with book label of John Gadd. Binding with mild shelf wear, spine lightly toned, minor offsetting from gilt initials, very faint ink spotting on blank areas opposite text, a couple trivial marginal spots or smudges elsewhere, but these faults all quite negligible, and the work as a whole IN VERY FINE CONDITION--bright, clean, and fresh throughout.
This is an engaging and beautifully executed manuscript featuring a clear, regular hand and charming illuminated initials with imagery inspired by "The Song of Hiawatha." Although the work is not signed and contains no information about the identity of the artist, it was obviously written and illuminated by a practiced hand using high-quality materials. The letterforms here are especially lovely, and the ink sits pleasingly smooth on the thick paper, making for an aesthetically enjoyable read. The text comprises three scenes from Longfellow's epic poem, preceded by a brief introductory text (possibly written by the artist?) erroneously linking the historical figure of Hiawatha (an important Native American leader in the precolonial era) to our eponymous hero. (There is no connection between the two apart from the name, but the confusion persists even today.) There is much about the creation of this manuscript that remains a mystery--we do not know exactly when, where, or by whom it was made--but in terms of its obvious craftsmanship and beauty, the work is anything but mysterious. (ST17129-008)