Our Favorite Things #5: A 15th Century Book of Hours

Our Favorite Things #5: A 15th Century Book of Hours

In this reoccurring series, members of the Special Collections staff will introduce some of our favorite objects found in the stacks of Special Collections at Princeton.

Emma Paradies, Special Collections Assistant | Book of hours : use of Rome, [ca. 1450]

Illustration of three people looking up at an angel

Emma, what do you do at Princeton?

I work in Public Services at Firestone and at Mudd, and in the photoduplication department in both teams as well. My job is to help make sure that patrons writing articles or doing remote research can see the things that they want to see without necessarily having to come in person, and to do that I help monitor the orders to make sure they go out smoothly and sometimes photograph the items myself. I also work directly with patrons by paging and being on hand in the reading room.

And what is one of your favorite things?

Book of hours : use of Rome, [ca. 1450] (Garrett MS. 54)

How did you first come to see this item?

A patron requested it for digitization, and I saw it while processing the order!

What are three words you would use to describe it?

Beautiful, Enchanting, Fun

And why is it one of your favorite things?

I love books of hours in general and find them so beautiful, just knowing how much painstaking work went into creating a manuscript like the kinds we see from the 1400s-1500s–from making the parchment to doing all of the lettering and detail work and copying to binding the book to adding illustrations and gilt; it always results in a truly special and unique object. But this one specifically is a favorite of mine because of the illustrations in the calendar section at the beginning of the book. There are 24 circular calendar illustrations, 12 of the different signs of the zodiac and 12 of the “Labors of Months,” including a lion drawn by someone who had clearly never seen a lion before in their life, and a tiny little baker making bread! I love these illustrations and just find them so endlessly charming, I could look at them forever.

Thanks for sharing Emma! Learn more about seeing this item for yourself on the access service page of the Special Collections website.