Lot 49
  • 49

Gospel Lectionary, in Greek, manuscript on vellum

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199 leaves, 247mm. by 190mm., lacking 2 leaves at the beginning (replaced in the sixteenth century) and a single leaf once foliated ‘144’, else complete, collation: i6 [of 8, lacking i-ii, replaced with paper leaves], ii-xvii8, xviii7 [of 8, lacking viii], xix-xxv8, xxvi2, with alphabetical quire signatures on first leaves, double column, 22 lines, ruled in blind, mostly 22 lines, written-space 180mm. by 145mm., written in dark brown ink in a large and very handsome Greek minuscule, headings in purplish red, coloured initials throughout in purplish red, usually set out slightly into the margins, some decorative dividers the width of the columns marking off sections and the months of the Menologion (e.g., fols.65v, 159v, 165v, 185v, 189v, 194v, etc.), two large decorated headpieces in designs of calligraphic interlace in purplish red (fols.43v and 153r), some medieval marginal notes in Greek, many signs of use, first pages a bit wormed, many pages thumbed and battered but utterly sound and intact, late medieval blind-stamped Greek binding of thick wooden boards grooved on their edges, raised spine ‘alla greca’, red and green textile endbands, the quires sewn each to the next, boards covered with dark red leather treble ruled into double frames each filled with a saltire, stamped with repeated impressions of two small floral tools, stubs (only) of two leather thongs once attached to edge of lower cover to fit onto metal pins projecting from edge of upper cover, paper endleaves, binding a bit wormed and scuffed but unrestored and intact, in a dark green quarter morocco fitted case, title gilt


In France by the late nineteenth century, when it was described as southern Italian, later corrected to Cretan.   Although there is no obvious evidence that the book was made in Crete, this is certainly possible.  The watermarks in the added pages are of the general type of Briquet 570, found in north-eastern Italy, including Venice, in the 1570s.

Catalogue Note


This is a book of Pericopes, of Gospel readings, arranged for the church year, in two parts, (1), the Menologion, comprising readings from Easter Sunday (fol.1r) to the eighth week after Easter, with Pentecost (fol.43v), the sixteen weeks after Pentecost, Saturdays and Sundays only (fols.44r-65v), the sixteen weeks of the Octoechos, from the first Sunday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Saturdays and Sundays only (fols.65v-86v), the ten weeks before Easter (fols.86v-101v) and Holy Week and Easter itself (fol.101v-152v); and (2) the Synaxarion, readings for the saints’ days, for the whole year from 1 September (fols.153r-200v).  There are notes at the end on binding and using the text.  Unlike the Western tradition, all Greek Gospel Books have a potential textual value, for many were copied from exemplars of extreme antiquity.   Twelfth-century Greek biblical manuscripts are not rare in public collections but they are inceasingly uncommon in private hands.   The binding is in excellent condition, for a text of this type, and is of the kind described by B. van Regemorter, ‘La reliure des manuscrits grecs’, Scriptorium, VIII, 1954, pp.3-23.