Book of Hours, Latin with additions in Middle English; second page of the second Middle English prayer to Christ. Southern Netherlands (probably Bruges), ca. 1440, f.45r
102 leaves (plus six contemporary vellum flyleaves, five of them with added prayers). 168 by 112mm. Single column, 19 lines, ruled in red ink, written space 78 by 50mm; Small gothic bookhand.
Text: The additions in Middle English are two prayers to Christ and a charm against the plague.
Binding: Nineteenth-century plain brown morocco; sides inset with mid-sixteenth-century French gilt panels in interlaced strapwork designs infilled with flowers and volutes within double gilt borders with fleurons in the corners.
Decoration: Line-fillers in Litany in red and blue, 1-line capitals throughout in blue or burnished gold with penwork in red or black; 2-line initials in burnished gold on blue and pink grounds with white tracery; one 5-line initial; seven similar large initials with three-quarter bar borders; four very large initials in ivy-leaf designs in blue, pink and orange with white tracery on burnished gold grounds with full borders of 3-sided baguettes supporting gold ivy-leaf and hairline designs with tiny coloured flowers and fruit; three full-page miniatures within full borders with green acanthus sprays in the corners.
Provenance: Written and illuminated for the English market, the manuscript’s miniatures reflect Flemish models disseminated by the so-called Master of the Golden Scrolls. The manuscript is known as the Mantell Hours due to the armorial bookplate of Gideon Algernon Mantell (1790–1853) affixed to the recto of the first front binder’s leaf. It was bequeathed to his son Walter B. D. Mantell (1820–1895), who brought the manuscript with him when he settled in New Zealand in 1840. Upon the death of Walter Mantell, the manuscript passed to Henry Spencer Grey Harper (1863–1918), whose signature dated 1 April 1895 appears across the Mantell bookplate. The recto of the second binder’s leaf is signed by the Mantells and Harper, whose descendants consigned the book to auction. Purchased from Sotheby’s, December 1987, lot 54.
References: Manion, Vines, de Hamel no. 180; Reed Early Bibles no. 19; G. Waite. ‘Middle English Prayers and a Charm in a Dunedin Manuscript’ in World and Stage: Essays for Colin Gibson edited by Greg Waite, Jocelyn Harris, Heather Murray and John Hale (Dunedin: University of Otago, 1998), 92–108.
Shelfmark: RMM MS 10.
Description reproduced from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (London, 1989) by permission of the authors (Christopher de Hamel, Margaret Manion, and the family of Vera F. Vines).