• A noble fragment of a book of hours of the Use of Paris, published by Vérard, a scribe who became one of the best-known early French printers. Printedon vellum, this work exhibits the practice of combining text produced via the new technology of printing from moveable type with the centuries-old practice of hand-accomplished illumination and color-ornamentation of manuscripts. Vérard’s crisply printed text is beautifully embellished with initials and line in-fills in red, blue, and gilt.
Mary’s coronation as Queen of Heaven is depicted in the miniature that opens the work. It has been nicely overpainted in shades of blue, green, red, white, and gold, and is followed by five leaves of text, most from either gatherings “I” or “k”; the unsigned leaves may be, or seem to be, from other portions of the book. Each leaf bears numerous one- and/or two-line illuminated initials on fields of either red or blue. The first two leaves after the miniature also have extensive illuminated in-fill on fields of alternating blue and red.
A laid-in letter dated 1948 describes the efforts of L.A. Sheppard of the British Museum to identify this book; Sheppard notes that it does not match any edition then held by the British Museum, and that its incomplete state makes precise identification difficult, but he does note that he has identified the type as one belonging to Vérard and that Vérard used it during the period ca. 1500 to 1512.
Our efforts to identify the book of hours edition (Use of Paris) of which this is a fragment, have resulted in our wondering if it is from a now lost edition. We have not matched it to any edition reported in U.S. libraries, or found it in any of the works listing Vérard imprints.
Complete copies of Vérard’s books of hours on vellum are highly valued and sought by collectors and libraries. They generally sell in the mid-six figures.
• On Vérard and his place in printing history, see: MacFarlane, Antoine Vérard (London: Pr. for the Bibliographical Society, 1900). Recent morocco panelled and framed in gilt rolls, old-style, with gilt-stamped corner fleurons; spine with gilt-stamped title, gilt-ruled raised bands, and gilt-stamped decorative devices in compartments. First leaf trimmed to size of illumination, that now mounted. Leaves with text areas generally clean; some spotting and staining in margins only. Laid-in letter on British Museum stationery as described above; brief biography of Vérard also laid in. Treasurable.