Friday, March 11, 2011

Fit for a Princess

A photograph of a hand holding a small leather book with gold stamping.We have a number of Books of Hours in the collection, but this is one of the smallest, with each of its one hundred and fifty six parchment leaves measuring just over three inches tall and two inches wide. This tiny illuminated manuscript was made for a little girl, probably a young French princess, sometime between 1525 and 1545.

Books of Hours contained a selection of prayers and psalms meant to be read by their owners throughout the day. The text of the prayers in this little volume is relatively large and very legible despite the tiny size of its pages, indicating that its reader, perhaps, was still very young. The amount of decoration in Books of Hours varies greatly; some are very plain while others include multiple full-page illustrations and decorated initials. This Book of Hours contains no portraits or miniatures, but nearly every page is decorated with colored inks and illuminated with gold leaf -- it's a clearly book that was meant to be pretty.

A photograph of a hand holding a small book open. The pages are handwritten with decorative initials.
Sometime in the 19th century, this book's owner had it rebound in a beautiful but very tight leather binding. The word "tight" refers to the fact that the parchment leaves are sewn together so closely that it is now impossible to open the pages flat or to see their inside margins (from a blogger's perspective, it also makes this book really difficult to photograph!).

Ask for Manuscript Codex 003197 to see this treasure for yourself.

Posted for Anne Peale '11

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cork: The Other Brown Paper

A colorfully printed title page on brown paper.One of the most unusual items in Rauner's collections is a lavishly illustrated and illuminated edition of Don Quixote printed on cork. Published in San Feliú de Guixols (a municipality in Catalonia, Spain) in 1955, the edition marks the 350th anniversary of the first printing of Cervantes' classic. According to the dedication, the text is taken from the 1907 edition with illustrations from the 1780 Real Academia Española edition.

This edition is actually one of several printed on cork. The first was published in 1905 - presumably to mark the 300th anniversary of Don Quixote. Other cork editions include a 1906, 1907, 1933, and a recent 2005 version printed in Portugal.

But why cork? Cork is one of Spain's most well known exports and Catalonia is one of the leading areas of production of the material. Don Quixote is the most well known literary work of the country. Perhaps this is an expression of national pride with a twist of commercialism thrown in. Spanish culture and Spanish goods in one luxury package.

A brown case with a red and gold title impressed into it.
Cork box that houses the two volume set.

Ask for Bryant PQ6323 .A1 1955