Auckland Libraries MS G. 185, Latin Psalter and Hymnal

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 27), Latin Psalter and Hymnal, Eastern Europe, second half of the fifteenth century.[1]

This book has an eighteenth-century pasteboard and parchment cover and pink paper spine linings that probably date from the same period. Beneath this structure, however, are the remains of a medieval binding, from which the sewing supports and some braided leather endbands survive. At the time of rebinding, the end of the supports and the endband cores—which must have laced into the boards—were sliced off so that they are flush with the text block. The stitching of the quires onto these supports seems to us to be original. There are traces of the dark brown, tanned leather cover still adhered to the spine. The endbands are perhaps of most interest here: braided leather endbands were especially common in the late fifteenth century in the German speaking regions.[2] In this case brown tanned leather was used, presumably to match the now-missing cover.

Also of interest are some quire guards and the front fly leaf in the book. These have been taken by the book’s first binder from a fourteenth-century breviary.[3] The leaf contains liturgical texts for the feasts of St Gregory the Great (12 March), St Benedict (14 March), St Gertrude of Nivelles (17 March) and, added in the lower margin, St Joseph (19 March). In the quire fold of fols 31v-32r are reed-like fragments, perhaps the remnants of another straw bookmarker: see our discussion of similar scraps of straw in Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Med. MS G.144.

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 - straw book marker

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 – straw book marker

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 - Beatus page

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 – Beatus page

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 - binding

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 – binding

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 - front fly leaf

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 – front fly leaf

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 - quire guard

Auckland Libraries MS G. 185 – quire guard


[1] See also Donald Kerr, “Sir George Grey and Henry Shaw,” in Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2007), 49-71 (59).

[2] J. A. Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Farnham: Ashgate, 1999), 212-14; Monica Gast, “A History of Endbands Based on a Study by Karl Jäckel,New Bookbinder 3 (1983), 42-58.

[3] As noted by Manion, Vines, and de Hamel, 63.

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One thought on “Auckland Libraries MS G. 185, Latin Psalter and Hymnal

  1. Pingback: Dirty Medieval Books | medievalbooks

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