Breviary Leaf

This page is a Vellum leaf from a medieval breviary that Otto F. Ege disbound and sold   as part of his "Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts” portfolio. Although Ege suggested that the breviary was  French in origin and dated from the late 13th century, modern scholars believe that this volume was English and composed circa 1420-1430. This page has vibrant inking and large areas of gilding, as well as highly decorative motifs, expensive details that suggest the object was for a prestigious clientele. Much of the page shows damage and while we might assume this is because of its age, patching and the adhesive present on the page shows that over time work has been done to preserve the piece and restore it to some manner resembling the original. It also reveals that the object was  mounted at one point into a cardboard backing likely for display, or stability purposes. 

Otto Ege described the leaf as follows: 

"Breviaries were seldom owned by laymen. They were service books and contained the Psalter with the versicles, responses, collects and lections for Sundays, weekdays, and saints' days. Other texts could be included. A Breviary, therefore, was lengthy and usually bulky in format. Miniature copies like the one represented by this leaf are rare. The angular gothic script required a skilled calligrapher. It would be difficult for a modern engrosser to match, even with steel pens, the exactness and sharpness of these letters formed with a quill by a XIIIth century scribe. Green was a decorative color added to the palette in the late XIIIth century in many scriptoria. The medieval formulae for making it from earth, flowers, berries, and metals are often elaborate and strange. This manuscript was written on fine uterine vellum, i.e., the skin of an unborn calf. It evidently had hard use, or may have been buried with its owner."

A scan of the front side of the Breviary Leaf.

A scan of the back side of the Breviary Leaf.