Glimpses of the University of British Columbia’s ‘New’ Medieval Manuscripts

In News by Porter Anderson

Brilliant color and intricately embellished texts: The new UBC Library acquisitions are stunners, as you can see in this gallery of images.
The newly acquired University of British Columbia 15th-century Book of Hours. Image: UBC media

The newly acquired University of British Columbia 15th-century Book of Hours. Image: UBC media


By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Worth a Thousand Words
Although it may not be the favorite truth of us words-people, sometimes there’s a lot less to be said and a lot more to be seen.

That’s true of the two newly acquired illuminated manuscripts at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, many of the words of which, themselves, have been made pictures.

A “student Bible” — created in 1250 in Oxford, not in Paris as was more common — cost the UBC Library CA$179,000 (US$135,000) and includes a handwritten concordance and margin notes.

A Book of Hours, a devotional book from the 15th century, cost CA$39,000 (US$29,5000) and is written using both Latin and French. While the Book of Hours is the more commonly collected ancient book of the two, this example has outstandingly bright, hand-painted illustrations.

The acquisitions were paid for by donors including former UBC Board of Governors member Dr. Kenneth Fung and New York’s Breslauer Foundation (in a first-time grant by that American fund to a Canadian institution). The new manuscripts can be seen now in the UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections Division.

And if you have time, take the gallery below to full-screen. It’s an eyeful.

Gallery courtesy of UBC’s media resources group.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.