Musicologie Médiévale

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Bonjour a tous.

Can anyone help me with the date and origin of this fragment please.  It looks to me to be from 

an 11/12 C gradual, with its Carolingian script and adiastematic neumes.  It’s the introit for the Easter Sunday mass.  Approximate size is 310 x 210 mm.

 It bears a strong resemblance to this one in the library of St. Gall, which is dated 980 - 1000.

 However the initial is more of a foliate design than the knotted St Gaul ‘R', and I know little of the chronology of illuminated initial design.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

Andrew Leckie

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With respect Miguel

, you are incorrect in your assumptions. I bought this leaf because of my passionate interest in medieval documents. I was familiar with Carolingian script but had never come across adiastematic neumes before and was keen to understand this notation system. Thanks to my research and the generosity of some participants of this forum who shared their expert knowledge, I now know a punctum from a virga.

Inflation? I paid just under 6500 Australian dollars to a US dealer for the leaf, not $4,500. You are confusing American and Australian dollars. I have it priced at A$8,800. Considering I have spent some time and money on conservation of the leaf by providing a protective environment - museum quality rag board, mylar sleeve & corners etc., I don’t think this is an unrealistic figure. I would also like to point out that I always reduce my prices for educational institutions.

I have a good working relationship with several universities and their Medieval Studies professors, rare book librarians and other staff. It is most likely that this leaf will be bought by an institution, in which case it will become a valuable teaching resource for generations of students to come.

I hope this explanation goes some way to easing your concerns.

, you are incorrect in your assumptions. I bought this leaf because of my passionate interest in medieval documents. I was familiar with Carolingian script but had never come across adiastematic neumes before and was keen to understand this notation system. Thanks to my research and the generosity of some participants of this forum who shared their expert knowledge, I now know a punctum from a virga.

It was just to sell this manuscript at a higher price... If you had a passion for it you would keep it.

Inflation? I paid just under 6500 Australian dollars to a US dealer for the leaf, not $4,500. You are confusing American and Australian dollars. I have it priced at A$8,800. Considering I have spent some time and money on conservation of the leaf by providing a protective environment - museum quality rag board, mylar sleeve & corners etc., I don’t think this is an unrealistic figure. I would also like to point out that I always reduce my prices for educational institutions.


Sorry but on ebay it's not australian US (this is the first sell of this manuscript before you pay it 4500....) :

http://www.ebay.ie/itm/252269759170

I have a good working relationship with several universities and their Medieval Studies professors, rare book librarians and other staff. It is most likely that this leaf will be bought by an institution, in which case it will become a valuable teaching resource for generations of students to come.

I hope this explanation goes some way to easing your concerns.


It's not correct you want that this mmanuscript to be sell for 8800 dollars and you win 4000 dollars....




Quite honestly, I had no hard feelings to deal with art objects or cultural heritage, although sometimes it is ambiguous indeed.

Since you asked for an expert opinion, i strongly advice against home-made “restaurations”, because in case of doubt it is better to do nothing than to do something wrong. There is a great responsibility and I fear that there is only a very small circle of hard-core experts (in London, Paris, Halle and Grottaferrata etc.) who are really up to take this heavy burden, and they are in permanent exchange in order to do so. I am sure the expert friends you mentioned here will agree with it.

My own experience is that even archeologists in Sicily collaborate with their so-called enemies, looting peasants who are quite experienced in finding and digging statues of Ancient Greek Sicily.

I am sure that I am not the only one who appreciates your passion and your courtesy. Our expert opinion is voluntarilly given, but I hope you do not mind, if we expect in exchange nothing more than to be informed about these transactions (many thanks to Dominique who found this article about you).

I am personally surprised, how low prices in Australia are. If you think, how much a museum or library spends per year just to have a qualified staff which looks after such a collection of manuscripts, it is peanuts. Only if prices climb so high, that public collectors can no longer afford to buy them, we are in the situation of Paul Getty who once said: “We do not pay 2 billions for second-rate paintings of French impressionists!”

It does not seem your case... I did appreciate the exchange with you and I believe it is in our all interest to keep informed about these deals. There is no globally granted right to own a Picasso or van Gogh and to hang it next to badly made pictures depicting Mummy Moses, and there is no right to earn and to withheld reproductions (otherwise, what is the reason for public foundations to pay for them?). But private owners might help to improve their image by supporting them.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Oliver, I greatly appreciate it.
I would like to assure you that I never compromise the integrity of the leaves I am fortunate enough to be the temporary custodian of. I NEVER attempt any restoration, cleaning, flattening, re-touching or the like. My aim is to preserve the leaf for its next custodian and for future generations. All I do is provide it with an environment best suited to this - museum quality passepartout and backing, mylar sleeve - and then stored in Solander boxes. I’d also like to add that I never attach anything to a leaf, hingeing material, tape etc. I use conservation materials and techniques to hold the leaf in place in the passepartout.
Once again, many thanks for your contribution. You are right, staying informed with an open mind and sharing knowledge is in all our interests.

Re: Miguel's comment. 

Needless to say, Andrew owes nobody any explanation for how he arrived at the pricing of this or any other item.  He offers it for sale, take it or leave it.  If you feel he asks more than the fragment is worth, don't buy it.  I for one applaud Andrew for salvaging what looks to me like an immensely valuable fragment.  It is his property now, and it is his business what he does with it. 

Rob,  Thank you.  I really appreciate your comments.  As I say above,  I see myself as  a temporary (and fortunate) custodian of this and other leaves.  I learn and draw pleasure from them and then move them along to the next custodian.  Although others like to build a collection, I have no personal interest in doing so, but I believe that this doesn't preclude me from fully appreciating these wonderful "time machines".

@ Rob Wegman

I also owe nobody my expertise, if I do not like to.

First of all, Andrew did not offer any explanation in front of us as far as the prices are concerned (although I am grateful to be enligtened by him about the difference between Australian and US dollars), some members here (and Miguel was one of them) did research about this fragment, that it came via ebay to Australia for instance, and how its value had raised. But the article which Dominique found, made it obvious that a certain transparancy is part of his business policies. We discussed here another deal for a much higher price, and we can see that not many auctioneers are specialised on manuscripts as his company is...

I just dared to point out, that this is the deal, if you ask here for others' expertise, you and your deal will also be spotted by members here. Take it or leave it!

You are absolutely right, if you are a private owner, you can hang a van Gogh next to a very nasty piece, whatever your (lack of) taste tells you to do. You have also the right to hide your ownership in public, as the owner of the Archimedes palimpsest chose to do who at least left it to restaurators of Walter's Art Gallery and sponsored research about this manuscript.

Nevertheless, there is something of a value which makes it public property due to the concept of world heritage, and it should not be confused with market values, because it is not exactly the same (therefore I quoted Paul Getty). The Pergamon and the British Museum hold objects (the fact how they came to these places is related to a certain period of imperialism in history), and there have been recent conferences where archaeologists claimed that these objects ought to be transferred to its original environment. Nobody can doubt that such claims are legitimate.

The same is true for my own fieldwork. Just because I am the one, who does the recordings, does not mean that I am the owner of these recordings. In case of doubt my field has the rights and the money made with such objects should be used to grant that these traditions also will have future. It is my most urgent wish, whatever an American lawyer might have to say about it from the point of international copyright and the American way to handle them.

Absolutely, it's perfectly fine to charge for one's expertise.  As far as I am concerned musicology is a gift economy, but only within the circle of colleagues and friends.  With people outside the circle it's transactional.

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