More Book Prices from the Middle Ages

Szarmai's evolution of spine shapes

A little later than the note reported by Helmut Gneuss is a notice found in the pastedown of a manuscript in Pembroke College, Cambridge (dated ?1170).*

It states:**

Pentatuchus. Iob. duodecim prophete. Math. et luc. cum pergameno
salterii et epistolorum et note. xxviii. libre. et x. sol

The Pentatech, Job, Twelve Prophets, Matthew and Luke with parchment for the psalter and the epistles and note(?; prob. the notes or glosses of Peter Lombard on the psalter and epistles); 28 livres and 10 sous.

As de Hamel mentions, it is unclear who would have written this inscription, but it does seem that it marks the progress of a major commission. Some books of the Old and New Testaments have been written, and parchment acquired for Peter Lombard’s glossed books of the psalter and epistles, which have not yet been written. De Hamel asserts that nowhere but Paris had the resources for writing books of this complexity and on this scale. The Rouses use the note as evidence of a structure of some sort that will foster the development of the booktrade later in Paris. To them, it looks like the large urban abbeys of Paris, specifically St-Victor, fostered the growth of a booktrade by engaging lay scribes and illuminators.

Similar activity is suggested in England, especially with reference to the re-stocking of libraries after the Norman conquest, in Michael Gullick’s “Professional Scribes in Eleventh- and Twelfth Century England” in English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700 7 (1998): 1-24.

*discussed in Rouse, Richard H., and Mary A. Rouse. Manuscripts and Their Makers : Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris, 1200–1500. 2 vols (Turnhout, Belgium: Harvey Miller, 2000), I, p. 26.

**quoted from Christopher de Hamel, Glossed Books of the Bible and the Origins of the Paris Booktrade (Woodbridge : Brewer, 1984), p. 54.

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