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Lot # 1223 (of 1411)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Circa 1650 Spanish Book of Psalms (Antiphonal)

Starting Bid - $1,000.00, Sold For - $1,392.00

Dating from the time of the late Spanish Inquisition, this rare and extremely impressive Book of Psalms is as much a work of art as it is a religious artifact. Initially, the book's most striking feature is its size and weight. Measuring an extraordinary 18 x 25 x 5 inches and weighing forty pounds, the book's impressive dimensions alone help to convey its religious significance. It is when one opens the 382-page book (191 individual leaves), however, that its true beauty is fully revealed. This book was meticulously handcrafted by monks in the sixteenth century over the course of many years. Each letter appears to be painstakingly painted or stamped by hand. The result of that exacting effort is a work of profound splendor that inspires both awe and reverence by all who view it. Each page, consisting of heavy parchment (or vellum), has been illuminated in either black or red lettering and is composed entirely in Latin. We are not Latin scholars, but from our research we have learned that it is possible that the offered work might be technically and more accurately be defined as an Antiphonal (which is a book of psalms, chants, and other songs to be sung by a choir; the huge size allowed the entire choir to use a single volume). If so, this volume would not include the entire Book of Psalms (a book of hymns and songs found in the Old Testament) but would include many psalms as well as chants and other songs. The Psalms appear to represent the primary text of the work. The Psalms have always been an integral part of church doctrine and the creation of this book, measured in countless hours, was one of the many important training tools in the education a young cleric. During the early centuries of the church, candidates for the position of Bishop were expected to be able to recite the entire Book of Psalms, or Psalter, from memory. That mastery of the Psalter was fostered during their years spent in careful transcription of the book. This book originates from Spain and is believed to date to circa 1650. The covers are constructed of three-quarter-inch wood sheets that have been bound in heavy leather. The binding bears an ornate metal framework that fastens the leather to the covers by means of nails. A number of the metal decorative pieces have been removed from the cover as evidenced by the nail holes and outline of the former design. The covers display heavy wear, including numerous abrasions and scratches. It is impossible for us to say if the cover is original to the piece, but it is obviously hundreds of years old. Approximately the first 120 pages have experienced heavy wear including toning, tears (mainly along the borders) and light soiling. The remaining pages display light staining and foxing, as well as a few minor edge tears. Many of the pages have benefitted from conservation in the form of reinforcement along the spine and, in many cases, repairs to tears along the bottom border. It should be noted, however, that those repairs appear to have been done many years ago (perhaps even as long as a century ago). This is one of the most unusual and extraordinary items of any kind we have ever seen. This book is an ancient artifact rarely encountered outside of a museum setting, with a imposing presence similar to the antiquities one would expect to see as part of the treasures discovered in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This book has been consigned by a longtime collector of interesting items (including baseball memorabilia) who was also a world traveler, and who purchased this book decades ago during his travels. In researching this piece we have found similar individual pages offered for sale for several hundred dollars each, but we were unable to find a similar example of a complete book. Good to Very Good condition overall. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,392.00


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