22 June 2013

Heart-shaped medieval Books of Hours

We know of only a few examples of heart-shaped Books of Hours, all dating from the 15th or the 16th century. 
Additional photos of several other such books are posted at damien kempf, via Erik Kwakkel.  For a general introduction to Books of Hours, check out this 12-minute video:

This video "presents a brief documentary about the patronage, content and use of medieval Books of Hours. The Biekorf ("Beehive") Library, best known for its collection of cistercian manuscripts from Ten Duinen en Ter Doest, holds 21 medieval Books of Hours."
Video via Erik Kwakkel.


  1. Surprises me that none of the modern readers of old texts is wearing gloves.

  2. I was surprised too; had expected white gloves. I wonder if the video was created using modern reproductions.

  3. I saw a program that said if they found that if the books are written on vellum or parchment (anything on animal skin) is better off being touched my the hands as the oils help keep the material from drying out. Paper, on the other hand, would need the gloves.

  4. I can confirm that. My medieval group were given an opportunity to flip through some medieval manuscripts and early books at an event in March. The Special Collections curator said that studies have shown more damage is caused by people wearing gloves than not regardless of whether the material is animal skin or paper. A large part of the reason is that people are less dextrous with gloves on and also tend to be less careful because wearing gloves makes them feel "safe".

    1. I should specify that this is for pieces that aren't handled often. I can't remark on whether there's a significant different for paper pieces like Anonymous 8:52 said, though it intuitively makes sense to me.


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