We then viewed William de Brailes’ de Brailes Hours (Book of Hours) c1240 it is reputed to be the oldest book of hours. Patricia explained that saints’ name days were written in red (thus giving us the term red letter days). Also by William de Brailes is the Last Judgment.
Following this were pictures of the Sherborne Missal and works by David Aubert, a French calligrapher who produced works for the court of the Duke of Burgundy, as well as illuminations at Bruges and other centres for the Dukes Philip the Good and Charles the Bold and the Duchess Margaret of York.
Patricia then spoke about the materials used:
Skin Treatment: Skins were soaked in vats of lime, then stretched out to be scraped, they were then left to dry and were scraped again. Once this had been completed the skins were cut, lines ruled and paintings or illustrations were completed. To remind us, Vellum is calf skin and parchment is sheep skin.
Writing Tools: Quills were made from the first five flight feathers, as these are strongest. In the 19th century the feathers were exported from Russia (St. Petersburg) and Canada as they were of the highest quality.
For our general knowledge, Patricia told us Queen Victoria’s favourite pen was a swan feather and Edward VII’s was from a Hudson Bay goose. A quill knife was a curved blade and thus pen knives have rounded blades.
Ink: In ancient times, carbon wasn’t substantial enough for a Caudex, and then later came walnut ink.
We were then presented with more brilliant pictures to illustrate this fascinating talk. The Book of St. Cuthbert, 698AD was found in the coffin of St Cuthbert, illustrations showed the Coptic binding used at the time.
Ceolfrith’s Bibles; Ceolfrith, was abbot of the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow in Northumbria from 690 to 716. Ceolfrith commissioned three large bibles from his own scriptoria, one for Wearmouth, one for Jarrow and one for Pope Gregory II. Realising he was close to death, he resigned his abbacy and set out for Rome however he died en-route and the bible made its way to the monastery of Monte Amiata in Florence. It is the only one of the three bibles to survive intact and is the oldest surviving full copy of the bible in Latin. The British Library MS Additional 45025 is thought to be part of one of the two other bibles commissioned by Ceolfrith. Only ten leaves and a fragment of an eleventh survive.
Further illustrations to the talk included; the Utrecht Psalter, the Harley Psalter and works by Nicolaus Bertschi (artist).
Lines were marked on all pages of the manuscript from the beginning, then the scripts were completed and then finally the art work was completed, over the lines. It would be too difficult to decide where not to rule lines so the artwork was completed over them.
We were then shown Johann von Hagen’s writing sheets.
Some more information for you – the word miniature comes from minima; the red of the design and shell gold is derived from gold being sold in muscle shells, thus shell gold!
There were some final slides of the Gottingen Model Book; the Vespasian Psalter (British Library) – Capital Letter – Historian is the first recorded and finally the Stockholm Codex Aureus.
This report goes nowhere near representing the in-depth and beautifully illustrated talk by Patricia. I can only recommend that you view her website and blog; and research some of the magnificent manuscripts mentioned by viewing them on the web.