Medieval Manuscript Sells for £95,000

An exceptionally rare 15th century illuminated manuscript almanac was sold for £95,000 at auction last week. It was expected to only sell for between £10,000 and £20,000.

The illuminated manuscript is an extremely rare survival, thought to have been made in southern England circa 1425. It is one of perhaps 30 examples of an English folding almanac known to be extant, nearly all of which are confined to major institutional collections. Such almanacs were intended for practical use by physicians, who used them to aid astrological calculations to establish prognoses and the most auspicious timings for medical interventions. These types of manuscripts are also called ‘girdle books’ because their form allowed them to be suspended from the waist for quick reference.


In previous research on this manuscript, J. P. Harthan of the Victoria & Albert Museum explains, “from an analysis of the saints’ days and festivals it would appear that (the present) calendar was made for use in the Canterbury diocese (thus confirming the south England emphasis of the astronomical calculations’ e.g. St Augustine of Canterbury, in red, on 26th May, the Translation of the relics of St Thomas on 7th July, St David 1st March, St Chad, 2nd March (both of whose feasts were made obligatory in 1398), St Dunstan, on 19th May, St John of Beverley on 7th March [sic: really 7th May], and other English saints.”

The item was sold on November 24th as part of an auction held by Tennants Auctioneers. Click here for more details and images about the manuscript.

Top Image: Photo courtesy Tennants Auctioneers


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