The Lilly Library has an enviable collection of medieval manuscript books as well as hundreds of fragments (a single leaf or multiple leaves) from such books, many of which are textually or artistically significant. They date from the 7th century A.D. onward, with the greatest number being products of the 14th and 15th centuries. Most were acquired with the Poole collection in 1958 and the Ricketts collection in 1961. The Elisabeth Ball collection, acquired in 1983, added two 15th-century Books of Hours and the Ruth Adomeit collection, received in 1996, includes three complete Books of Hours and several medieval leaves.
Many of these manuscripts are illustrated in bright colors, some with applied gold and silver. In their simplest form, a manuscript may contain an enlarged capital letter at the beginning of a chapter or a section, or marginal compositions done in pen and ink. Some are miniatures sumptuously illuminated with precious metals and highly intricate capitals. Others have floral, vine, or geometric borders, often with figured compositions within the borders of large capitals. Some of the manuscripts have text only, without embellishment.
Included in the Lilly Library's medieval manuscript collection are Bibles and Bible fragments, Psalters, Books of Hours, Breviaries, Missals, Graduals, Antiphonaries, and secular works such as Aristotle's De Meteoris and Suetonius's Vitae Caesarum. The collection also includes texts without adornment representing the writings of Saint Augustine, Isidore of Seville, Saint Jerome, Anselm of Canterbury, Sulpicius Severus, Seneca, Justinian, Virgil, and Boccaccio.
Related exhibition catalogs include:
Above right: Sample book containing models for monastic
scribes. Guinifortus de Vicomerchato. 1450. Ricketts 240.
Above left: Book of hours. Written in France, Bayeux use. Late 15th century. Ricketts 129. 58v