As we start to explore the world of rare and special books, it’s important to read widely. There are a number of blogs that include information about rare books. Fine Books & Collections Magazine is one of those blogs. Today (January 7th, 2014), they posted this article about a Book of Hours that’s to be sold at auction.
Rothschild Prayerbook Set to Break Record – The Fine Books Blog
What’s a Book of Hours you ask? It’s a Christian devotional, a book for meditation and prayer that is mostly psalms that was read by individuals throughout the day and week as the hours chimed in clock towers or prayers were chanted in monasteries and cathedrals. The finest Books of Hours were decorated with illuminated boarders and decorated capitals. We’ll see examples of all of these in the Rare Books / History of the Book course this semester.
Two questions that may come to mind are “Why is this called the Rothschild Prayerbook?” and “Wasn’t the family Jewish?” The answer to both questions is that the prayer book comes from the collection of the Rothschild Family and even if it wasn’t most recently owned by them, they were the famous owner. Naming manuscripts and books is like naming archaeological artifacts, the object is given the name of the owner, the museum, the location, or the discoverer.
If you want to read more about Books of Hours, here’s a link to an exhibit at the Houghton Library, Harvard entitled “Picturing Prayer” with beautiful examples of these prayer books. http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=picturingprayer