BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
Beinecke MS 84 England [?], s. XV
Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae
Restricted material. May not be seen without the permission of the appropriate curator.
1. ff. 1r-169r Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi. Flebilis
heu mestos cogor inire modos...cum ante oculos agitis iudicis cuncta
cernentis. Explicit. ff. 169v-170r ruled, but blank
L. Bieler, ed., CC lat. ser. 94 (1957) pp. 1-105.
2. ff. 170v-171r Short notes (in Latin and English) on medical
recipes, including "Medicyn for the Colyk". f. 171v ruled, but blank
Parchment, ff. iv (contemporary parchment, iv=stub) + 171 + iv
(contemporary parchment, i=stub), 100 x 80 (68 x 41) mm., trimmed in a
very irregular manner. Written in 12 long lines; single bounding lines
full across. Ruled in pale brown ink; remains of prickings (slashes) in
outer margins, and occasionally in upper and lower margins.
I^^10, II^^12, III^^12 (-7, no loss of text), IV^^8, V-XVII^^10. A few
signatures on recto.
Written by three scribes in informal gothic scripts. 1: ff. 1r-
33v, with running titles, in red, on f. 4v and 28r; catchwords,
underlined in red, with paragraph marks preceding each; this is the
only section of the text with rubrication. 2: ff. 34r-60v, 112v-169r
(in a style of writing verging on Anglicana), catchwords in gutter,
often surrounded by rectangles. 3: ff. 60v-112v (many erasures and
corrections by 2), no visible catchwords. Marginal and interlinear
glosses in several contemporary hands, one of which added the notes on
First initial in red penwork, 4-line, with crude portrait of
Boethius. Simple red initials to mark sections of text.
Binding: s. xv, possibly German or Dutch. "Girdle-book." Although
early, it is not the original binding. Resewn on three narrow, tawed,
double thongs. The endbands do not seem to have laced cores, but a
primary sewing may have been sewn to the head and tail of the chemise,
underneath the braided secondary endbands. The thongs are laced into
grooves in beech boards, the pattern reversed; one horizontal above one
V lacing on the upper board and a V above a horizontal on the lower.
The thongs are pegged. The outer wrapper of tawed skin, now grey, is sewn
to a tawed, pink, inner chemise around the outer edges of the boards.
The wrapper extends about 130 mm. to a Turk's head knot at the tail,
about 25 mm. at the head, and has an overlap of about 50 mm. on the upper
board. The edges of the wrapper are turned in and hemmed. The book hung
upside down when attached to the girdle by having the knot slipped under
it, but was right side up when picked up (still attached to the girdle)
to be read. A strap-and-pin fastening, the pin on the upper board,
consists of a thick, brown leather strap nailed to the lower board and
tacketed to the cover with a leather thong ending in an anthropomorphic
brass clasp, the head of which catches on the pin. A glued repair was
made before, a sewn one after 1973. Cf. exhib. cat., The History of
Bookbinding, 525-1950 A.D., The Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, 1957)
p. 56, no. 130.
Written in England in the 15th century, as is suggested by the
style of writing (especially of Scribe 2) and by the recipes in
English. It is, however, questionable whether the codex was bound there
as well, since "girdle-books" were produced primarily in the Low
countries and Rhine Valley; no examples of these bindings seem to
survive from England. Evidence of trimming, with some loss of
marginalia, may indicate that the codex was written in one place and
bound in another. Belonged to A. Edward Newton (The A. Edward Newton
Collection of Books and Manuscripts [New York, 1941] v. 2, p. 28); his
sale (New York, 14 May 1941, no. 105) to C. A. Stonehill. Presented to
Yale in 1941 by the Yale Library Associates.
secundo folio: Qui cecidit
Bibliography: Faye and Bond, p. 27, no. 84.
E.T. Silk, "The Yale 'Girdle-Book' of Boethius," Gazette 17 (1942)
pp. 1-5 (plate facing p. 1).
The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle
exhib. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975) pp. 164-65, no.
183, with 2 plates.
Barbara A. Shailor