his collection was dispersed a few years ago this one book fetched
In the celebrated Perkins sale, in 1873, a magnificent early MS.,
part of which was written in gold on a purple ground, and which was
dated in the catalogue "ninth or tenth century," but was in reality
of the end of the tenth or beginning of the eleventh, was sold for
565 pounds to a dealer. It found its way into Mr. Bragge's
collection, at what price I do not know, and was resold, three years
later, for 780 pounds.
Any person desirous of making a collection of illuminated MSS.,
should study seriously for some time at the British Museum, or some
such place, until he is thoroughly acquainted (1) with the styles of
writing in use in the Middle Ages, so that he can at a glance make a
fairly accurate estimate of the age of the book submitted to him;
and (2) with the proper means of collating the several kinds of
service-books, which, in nine cases out of ten, were those chosen
A knowledge of the styles of writing can be acquired at second hand
in a book lately published by Mr. Charles Trice Martin, F.S.A.,
being a new edition of "Astle's Progress of Writing." Still better,
of course, is the actual inspection and comparison of books to which
a date can be with some degree of certainty assigned.
It is very common for the age of a book to be misstated in the
catalogues of sales, for the simple reason that the older the
writing, the plainer, in all probability, it is. Let the student
compare writing of the twelfth century with that of the sixteenth,
and he will be able to judge at once of the truth of this assertion.
I had once the good fortune to "pick up" a small Testament of the
early part of the twelfth century, if not older, which was
catalogued as belonging to the fifteenth, a date which would have
made it of very moderate value.
With regard to the second point, the collation of MSS., I fear there
is no royal road to knowing whether a book is perfect or imperfect.
In some cases the catchwords remain at the foot of the pages. It is
then of course easy to see if a page is lost, but where no such clue
is given the student's only chance is to be fully acquainted with
what a book OUGHT to contain. He can only do this when he has a
knowledge of the different kinds of service-books which were in use,
and of their most usual contents.
I am indebted to a paper, read by the late Sir William Tite at a
meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, for the collation of "Books
of Hours," but there are many kinds of MSS. besides these, and it is
well to know something of them. The Horae, or Books of Hours, were
the latest development of the service-books used at an earlier
period. They cannot, in fact, be strictly called service-books,
being intended only for private devotion. But in the thirteenth
century and before it, Psalters were in use for this purpose, and