A 10th Century Leaf with Blessings for Trees


(Probably France or Rhineland: 10th century). Irregularly shaped, but approximately 298 x 225 mm. (11 3/4 x 8 7/8"). Single column, 33 lines on recto (and 29 on verso) in a neat Caroline minuscule.

Rubrics in red, nine two-line initials in red and/or brown, one with a light yellow wash and feathered extender, one with feathered ascender. ◆Recovered from a binding, with the verso consequently somewhat soiled and with a vertical crease obscuring a letter or two on each line, a little loss of blank vellum margin (but no text lost), other light stains and imperfections as expected, but still in remarkably good condition, the text almost entirely legible, and the recto still generally quite pleasing.

Written in an attractive and highly legible Caroline minuscule, this early leaf is desirable not only for its age and script, but also for the many initials opening each separate prayer. Inked in brown and orange and sometimes tinged with yellow, these initials are reminiscent of those found in the Gellone Sacramentary (BNF Latin 12048), an eighth century manuscript with extraordinarily inventive designs incorporating animals, knotwork, and a multitude of patterns, and favoring a color palette of green, orange, yellow and brown. Although the present examples are simpler in their execution, we can see similar tendencies in terms of colors and shapes--especially in the winged designs on two of the initials here. The smaller "S" residing in the larger "D" initial on the recto, signifying the word "Deus," is a feature that can also be seen in the Gellone Sacramentary (for example, on f. 7r). The text here probably comes from a Sacramentary, a type of manuscript containing only the words said by a priest or bishop (rather than the congregant) during Mass and other liturgical services, or possibly a Rituale, containing the services not included in the Missal or Pontifical. The text on this particular leaf includes blessings for trees. Though recovered from a binding, the damage on this leaf is far less severe than is often encountered with such specimens; the text on both sides is intact, all but a few letters are entirely legible, the margins are quite generous, and the initials have been well preserved.

Price: $10,000.00