Biblia. Bible in Latin on vellum. With The Prologues Of St. Jerome and with Capitula and Gospel Canon Tables. Italy (Possibly Rome), c. 1230-50. Very large thick 8vo (232 x 148 mm.) 506 leaves (last 2 originally blank), lacking single leaf at beginning and 3 leaves after fol. 266, else complete, further single blanks canceled after fol. 291 and at end, with catchwords and two sequences of numerical signatures in lower center of final versos sometimes in red cartouches. Double column, 50 lines per page, beginning above top ruled line, written in dark brown ink in a very small rounded gothic book hand, headings in red, capitals touched in red, running-titles in capitals in red or alternately red and blue letters, chapter initials throughout in bright red occasionally with simple brown penwork, with seventy-seven very large decorated initials up to 30 lines in height (avg. 15 lines) in divided red and blue with very elaborate penwork infilling and surrounds with long marginal extensions in red with green wash or red and blue (sometimes including drawings of fish); the Genesis initial framed in yellow wash interlaced at top in Romanesque Celtic style, gold is used only in the initial on fol. 100v; additionally, four pages of Canon Tables in multiple arched compartments at ff.403-04, tables of liturgical readings added in a fourteenth-century hand on last 2 leaves. 1/4 dark brown pigskin with red label, oak boards, a retrospective binding by Courtland Benson. A few medieval readers' notes, infrequent dampstain marks and soiling, some marginal tears and defects with repairs, generally in very good condition with wide margins preserving the prickings.
An exceptionally well preserved and unusual 13th century Bible with uncommon features. Though in the format and with the chapter divisions of the universities, this is an archaic Bible with an unusual order of books and preserving Canon Tables, capitula lists and stychometric notes of the twelfth century and earlier. A genealogy of Christ follows Ruth. In particular, the interlaced decoration at the top of the Genesis initial is Carolingian or even Celtic in style, suggesting the manuscript is perhaps monastic, derived in part from an old 10th-12th century exemplar of possibly Celtic origin. The list of liturgical readings at the end may be Roman. The Temporal follows the custom of the Roman Curia (it was also that of the Franciscans, but the Sanctoral is not Franciscan; cf. D.L. d'Avray, The Preaching of the Friars, 1985, pp.59-60, n. 3). The short list of Sanctoral readings includes three feasts of St. Peter (his Chair, the feast itself, with Vigil, and his Chains) and the Roman saints Sylvester and the Seven Brothers.
Provenance: The manuscript was sold with other manuscripts from the Gibson library, "The Property of an Institution", at Sotheby's 16 December 1970, lot 35; Segr-Amar, The Comites Latentes Collection, Geneva/Turin (1970-89); Hidden Friends: The Comites Latentes Collection of Illuminated Manuscripts, Sotheby's, 20-28 September 1985; Sotheby's Dec. 5 1989 lot 77, (Schyen).