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Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
Italy; Late 15th Century
Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script
50 by 35 cm

The large-scale missal was intended to be viewed at a distance by a choir who shared it amongst themselves. It was much easier to write out one large book for multiple use than it was to write out a requisite number of individual copies. The delicate tracery in the initials shows how beautifully vellum functioned as a substrate for bookmaking. Its hard surface and residual fat content made it a perfect substrate for the water-based inks of the medieval scribes. The hair follicles of the calf from which this vellum was obtained still show clearly in this manuscript and were not at all considered a distraction or a flaw.
Keywords: 1400s, formal, gothic, initials, Italy, Missal, music, script

Manuscripts | Cary Collection