Book of Hours Calendar Leaf for January c. 1470


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours. 16  & 17lines of text, ruled in red, written in Latin with dark brown ink on animal vellum. (96 x 70mm) .

Major feast days in red (origin of term ‘red-letter day’). Large ''KL'' initials (for KALENDS) are in deep blue with delicate red penwork. Northern Italy (probably Ferrara), c. 1470.

The colorful initials are characteristic of Ferrarese illumination of the 1470’s – especially the work of Guglielmo Giraldi (Ref: Toniolo, La miniature a Ferrara (1998), pp. 214-223). The precise & elegant penwork flourishing is also represented in manuscripts of that workshop & similar to the ornamentation found in the pattern book of Guinfortus de Vicomercato (Ref: J. G. Alexander, The Painted Page, London 1994, p. 109).

Among the feasts listed are St. Sebastian (20th - Patron Saint of Soldiers and Athletes), St. Agnes (21st - Patron Saint of Gardners), and St. Vincent of Zaragoza (22nd - Patron Saint of vintners).

Left of the saints’ days are repeating letters A - G called Dominical Letters since they help find Sundays. Far left is a column of Roman numerals i - xix called Golden Numbers to indicate appearances of new moons, & counting ahead 14 days, full moons throughout the year (year + 1; divide by 19; remainder is Golden Number - if zero GN = 19). Finally: each month had 3 fixed points: Kalends (1st day) Ides (middle) & Nones (9th day before Ides). All days in between were counted backwards from these points.

Shipped in archival 14x11'' mat

  • Inventory Number: IM-7967