Wellington (New Zealand), The Alexander Turnbull Library - Rare Books, MSR-03 | Cantus Database

Wellington (New Zealand), The Alexander Turnbull Library - Rare Books, MSR-03

NZ-Wt MSR-03
Late-15th-century antiphonal copied for the Sisters of the Common Life at the Augustinian abbey in Amersfoort, the Low Countries. Hufnagelschrift in brown/black ink on 4-line staves with F- and C-clefs. 6 staves per folio side. Cathedral cursus. Pars aestiva only. 190 paper leaves (one blank), plus one contemporary leaf with a single chant, and two front flyleaves. 21.3 x 14.6 cm with a principal writing-space of 15.2 x 9.8 cm.
Liturgical Occasions

Ff. 001r-190r: Summer Temporale and Sanctorale. Ff. 001r-092r: Sanctorale from the feast of Mark (25 April) to Clement (23 November), including “In natali sancti Augustini episcopi patris nostri” (f. 055r) and “In translatione sancti Augustini” (f. 075r). Ff. 092v-116v: Common of the Saints.
Ff. 117r-162v: Temporale from Vespers of Easter to 24th Sunday after Pentecost, including Corpus Christi (f. 144v).
Ff. 163r-190r: Presentation of Mary (f. 163r), Monica (f. 171r), Anna (f. 181r).


NZ-Wt MSR-03 is likely the second of a pair of antiphonals as it contains the pars aestiva, that is, the liturgical material from Easter Day forward, both Temporale and Sanctorale. The volume containing the pars hiemalis is yet to be found.

Inside the front cover of the binding on the front pastedown is the 15th-century ownership inscription, “Liber co[n]vent[us] s[anc]ti monaliu[m] s[anc]te Agathe v[ir]gi[ni]s Am[er]sfor.e.” Thus, the provenance of this book has been ascribed to the Augustinian abbey of the Sisters of the Common Life at Amersfoort. The association of NZ-Wt MSR-03 with a women’s house is further supported by the inclusion near the end of the manuscript of additional Marian chants and some less-common Offices for female saints. In more recent years, this manuscript was acquired by Albert Clemas (1880?-1956) and later sold by him in 1933 to the British and Foreign Bible Society of New Zealand. In 1978, it was deposited into the Alexander Turnbull Library, now a division of the National Library of New Zealand, on permanent loan from the Bible Society.

Just beneath the 15th-century inscription on the front pastedown appears “Hymns Versicles and antiphons” in pencil in a modern cursive hand. The first flyleaf contains more of the same hand in pencil and a cutting from an English bookseller’s catalogue that provides a different interpretation of the ownership inscription on the pastedown. The second front flyleaf is blank (recto and verso), and there is a single chant on the recto side of the third front flyleaf (indexed as f. 000r). There are no apparent folio numbers, so the inventory follows the numbering of the digital images posted online by the library. The main body of the manuscript contains 190 paper leaves (ff. 001r-190r). The following are blank: ff. 162v, 169v, 170r, 170v, and 190v.

The binding consists of plain, brown, limp vellum with a fold-over flap and repaired/renewed ties that extend around the entire book. The paper in this manuscript contain numerous watermarks: at least 11 different watermarks and variants are indicated in the library catalogue description, including versions of Briquet 3625 (1480), 6112-6113 (similar types all later 15th century), 8623 (1484), 8655-8682 (all later 15th century), 9182 (1467), 12478 (1481), and 14187-14213 (all later 15th century). The collation of leaves has the following organization: i-vi¹⁰, vii-xviii⁸, xix⁶, xx⁸, xxi⁸+², xxii¹⁰, with three different series of faint contemporary leaf signatures from “A” to “[m]” on gatherings 1-13 (ff. 000r-116v), “[a]” to “F” on gathering 14-19 (ff. 117r-162v), and from “a” to “[c]” on gatherings 20-22 (ff. 163r-190v). The gatherings are numbered in pencil in the upper-right-hand corners of the recto sides (“1” on f. 000r, “2” on 011r, “3” on f. 021r, “4” on f. 031r, “5” on f. 041r, “6” on f. 051r, “7” on f. 061r, “8” on f. 069r, “9” on f. 077r, “10” on f. 085r, “11” on f. 093r, “12” on f. 101r, “13” on f. 109r, “14” on f. 117r, “15” on f. 125r, “16” on f. 133r, “17” on f. 141r, “18” on f. 149r, “19” on f. 157r, “20” on f. 163r, “21” on f. 171r, “22” on f. 181r).

The leaves are ruled in faint plummet, with six systems per folio side of 4-line inked staves with F- and C-clefs. The notation is Hufnagelschrift. The black/brown text script is in a Gothic liturgical hand, and the library catalogue identifies three main scribes (changing after ff. 116 and 162, corresponding with changes of runs of signatures). Ff. 091v-092r appear to be in a slightly later hand with a different ink (now flaking off). Throughout the manuscript, rubrics are in red, and some liturgical directions are underlined in red. There are approximately 290 calligraphic initials in black, touched in red, infilled with black penwork (to f. 116 only) of which nearly fifty include human faces or profiles, mostly of monks or of grotesque unshaven figures spitting. Approximately 316 large initials are painted in red or occasionally in blue. Three large initials (c. 50 x 60 mm) are elaborately drawn in blue with penwork infilling and full-length marginal flourishing in red partly infilled with a green wash; these mark the beginning of the Sanctorale (f. 001r), Common of the Saints (f. 092v) and Temporale f. 117r). On f. 001r and 092v the border terminates in a bushy-tailed dragon. Space for a fourth large initial for Pentecost (f. 136r) was left blank.

Selected Bibliography

  • Barratt, Alexandra, and Alexandra Gillespie. “Early Bindings on Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand Libraries.” Script and Print 37/4 (2013): pp. 195-219. Available from https://www.bsanz.org/download/script-and-print/script__print_vol._37_no._4_2013/SP_2013-Vol37-No4-1.pdf. (Accessed 18 Apr 2020.)
  • Manion, Margaret M. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections. No. 137. London: Thames & Hudson, 1989
  • National Library of New Zealand Catalogue. “Antiphonary.” Available from:
    https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23210278 (Accessed 18 Apr 2020.) Original ATL record: https://tiaki.natlib.govt.nz/#details=ecatalogue.78828. (Accessed 18 Apr 2020.)
  • Taylor, David M. The Oldest Manuscripts in New Zealand. No. 27. Wellington [N.Z.]: New Zealand Council for Educational Research, 1955.
  • A monograph is being prepared which will cover background and bibliography. It will be available online on Academia.edu under “Gillian Lander,” the indexer of this inventory.

Notes on the Inventory
The inventory for NZ-Wt MSR-03 was prepared by Gillian Lander (University of Auckland) under the supervision of Dr Fiona McAlpine, with editorial assistance from Debra Lacoste (University of Waterloo). The manuscript description was written by Gillian Lander and Debra Lacoste.
Full Texts Entered by
Gillian Lander
Complete/Partial Inventory
Complete Inventory
Full Source/Fragment
Full Source