In his Gesta Regum Anglorum, which dates to 1125, William of Malmesbury recounted how King Alfred the Great kept a notebook or “Enchiridion” into which he copied his favorite writings. William probably consulted this celebrated Enchiridion for details about King Alfred. Unfortunately, the manuscript disappeared and remains unrecovered, a truly shattering cultural loss. The Enchiridion may fairly be called “the world’s most famous lost medieval book.” Even a single page from this legendary notebook could have conveyed a wealth of knowledge about King Alfred and his turbulent age. When King Alfred’s Notebook was launched in 2010, its name was chosen to convey the inestimable learning that could be derived from medieval books like the Enchiridion, no matter their state of preservation. Our mission remains the recovery of once-treasured manuscripts, a “lost” cultural legacy particularly suitable for university teaching and research.
Between 2010 and 2015 King Alfred’s Notebook distributed twenty-seven PDF catalogues online, up to five issues per year. Enchiridia 2, 3, and 5 each had supplements. Enchiridion 1 appeared in 2010, and the final PDF Enchiridion, number 21, was issued in early 2015. In 2014 separate catalogues were produced of manuscript books (Enchiridia 19-21: Codices), and of fragments, leaves, and cuttings (Enchiridia 19-21: Fragments).
Past sales of manuscript books and substantial fragments have included the Brixen Gradual from Bressanone, Italy, ca. 1325; Sermones de tempore et de sanctis and Sermones quadragesimales by Iohannes Herolt, ca. 1450; a fifteenth-century Italian manuscript of Martial’s works, quite possibly the last in private hands; the complete 1422 transcript, including original documents, of a disputed benefice from Subirats (Catalonia); and epitome of the Biblia pauperum by Nicholas de Hannapes; the missal of Santa Maria de Poblet, Catalonia, dated 1515; St. Augustine’s Enarrationes in Psalmos from late fourteenth-century Austria, brilliantly decorated; the complete Psalms from a French bible with annotations in Middle English; the manual, in Spanish, of the confraternity of Sancta Misericordia Iesu Christi, the Virgin Mary, St. Lucy, and St. John the Hospitaler in Cordoba, dated 1561; as well as many Books of Hours, Psalters, breviaries (including a rare Cisterican example with gold decoration), and service books such as the Gradual of St. John the Baptist, Werchter (Belgium).
Our manuscript leaves have included rare palimpsests; folios from an Old French Bible, and from many Romanesque Atlantic bibles, as well as from the St. Albans Abbey Bible, the Bohun Family Bible, and the St. Oyan Bible; leaves from service books, including the Llangattock Breviary, the East Anglian Breviary, the Breviary of Bertrand de Chalençon, and the Warburg Missal; folios and calendars from Books of Hours and other devotional books, such as a Passion Sequence by Pietro Ursuleo; miniatures from Hours, calendars, choir books, bibles, and service books, including a Crucifixion scene probably representing the first example of perspective in northern Europe; science texts, including mineralogy, horse medicine, and health; devotional texts in Latin, Old French, German, Greek, and Dutch; and legal, scholastic, and religious texts. We often produce teaching portfolios of leaves, such as “Decorative Arts of the Middle Ages” or “Medieval Books in the Age of Print.” Finally, we occasionally carry medieval objects: a rare English tally stick, and unusual seal matrices.
We are very pleased to offer outstanding manuscript fragments in this catalogue, including an exceptionally rare example of an English Romanesque Atlantic bible, two folios from a northern French Romanesque Atlantic Bible, three consecutive glossed bible leaves from early thirteenth-century Paris, a Romanesque glossed Psalter from Italy, a piece from the English breviary of Isabella Neverbegood from the Phillipps Collection, and an illuminated page from a fifteenth-century Rouen missal once sold by Otto F. Ege in his posthumous portfolio, Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts.