Assembly, dismemberment, digital reassembly: The fascinating 600 year life story of a medieval book of hours

Fresh contributions to the understanding of objects in the Rare Books Collection are always welcome, especially ones which offer tantalizing new insights and interpretations.

Karen Winslow, a recent Masters graduate from Trinity College, Dublin, shares with us in a recent Special Collections blog posting the fascinating story of four important bi-folios from a disassembled book of hours, which were acquired for the Baillieu Library’s collection in 1974.

Originally manufactured in Paris in 1407-1408 during the coldest winter of the 15th century (which saw the Seine freeze and the city’s three main bridges swept away), the manuscript was broken up for sale in the 20th century and its individual pages dispersed to public and private collections around the world. In the 21st century, technology is enabling the digital reassembly of the book, stimulating new discoveries and affording an enriched understanding of its ‘biography’ over time. More

The Annunciation miniature from folio 1 recto of the 1408 Book of Hours

Image: The Annunciation miniature from folio 1 recto of the 1408 Book of Hours. Rare Books Collection, University of Melbourne