During 2018 the University was fortunate to make an important new acquisition, the European Manuscripts Collection.
The collection consists of 141 folio illuminated manuscripts and 2 volumes: a seventeenth century Italian manuscript prayer book and a fifteenth century French Book of Hours.
The strength of the collection comprises the number of Book of Hours folios from a range of countries and dates.
Items in the collection include: missals, breviaries, graduals, psalters and a papal bull from Perugia, dated 1265. The material in the collection dates from the twelfth to the seventeenth century; the items are predominately of French origin (about half of the collection), with about a quarter originating from Italy and others from England, Spain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The collection has been generously presented to the University by a private collector with the support of the Art Fund.
There will be a display of the collection in the staircase hall at Special Collections based at The MERL from 5 August 2019-31 October 2019.
The display features a range of items from the collection with a focus on the book of hours folios. Caroline Gould, Principal Archivist had the enviable task of selecting the items for the display from the 143 items in the collection. “The problem I had was each item I looked at was so beautifully decorated it was worthy of being selected for the display. My strategy has been to try to select a range of items from the collection and provide explanations for the different types of documents which will hopefully inform visitors should they not be an expert in illuminated manuscripts.”
The MERL will be featuring an animal theme for programming in the autumn of 2019 so also see if you can spot a peacock, a bird, a dragon and an owl in the display.
For more information about Special Collections location see https://www.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/special-collections-findus.aspx