[Germany]: No later than September, 1462.
Folio: Binding dimensions: 34.5 x 22 cm. Paper: 32 x 21.5 cm.  leaves (18 gatherings of 12 leaves, with quire numbers at the foot of the final leaf in each gathering. Complete. The last leaf in the final quire is a blank. With a blank fly-leaf at front and rear. Paper with a watermark of three mountains with a cross (very close to Briquet Nos. 11797 and 11799), documented in Germany in the period 1450-82. Text in 28 lines. 23 x 11 cm.
A complete, dated 15th century manuscript of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, written in a German cursive bookhand, with contemporary interlinear and marginal glosses throughout (for comparison, see Lieftinck, Manuscrits datés conservés dans les Pays-Bas, Vol. I, plate 457 showing a similar hand, Germany 1470). Beautifully preserved, the text in immaculate condition, the paper bright, fresh and crisp. The attractive binding is also in excellent condition, with minimal wear. With 15 decorative initials at the start of each book in purple and yellow (Books I, XII, XV), or either purple or yellow. First letters of each verse rubricated in pale red (with gaps in rubrication from leaf 168v-178r and 188v-193r). Chapter headings are either missing or have been added, some incorrectly, to the margin by a later, 16th c. hand (humanist cursive but with influences from Kurrente.).
BINDING: Bound in 16th century quarter deerskin and thick wooden boards, with embossed brass strips where the deerskin meets the boards and two ornate brass clasps embossed with a stylized flower and a sun with a central monogram "yhs" (Iesus). For similar clasps, cf. Adler, Handbuch Buchverschluss und Buchbeschlag , p. 118f., Fig. 6-08b (Italy, 2nd half of 16th c.). The 2nd ffep has a watermark of two crossed arrows, indicating Italian origin (late 15th or 16th c.). See Briquet, p. 361 for his comments.
Spine with a little worming and insignificant defects, straps renewed. Spine with early paper label and shelf-mark.
DATE: The manuscript was completed no later than September 1462. At the end of the text (f. 215r) there is a very small note, apparently in the hand of the annotator (or possibly a reader): "finitus anno domini etc. LXII die .. mensis septembris". There is space left between "die" and "mensis" for the day (presumably the clerk did not know the exact date). The year could also be interpreted as LX5, a combination of Roman and Arabic numerals, but this is less likely. The manuscript pre-dates the first printed editions of the “Metamorphoses” (Bologna: Azoguidus, 1471; Rome: Sweynheym and Pannartz, not before 18 July 1471). The text was not printed north of the Alps until Johannes de Westfalia’ edition (Louvain, 1479-80). The first (and only 15th c. edition) printed in Germany appeared at Rostock about 1480.
PROVENANCE: First blank with a quote from Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics VII, 7), possibly by the scribe, but certainly contemporary with the manuscript: “Homo pravus decies millesies peyor est bestia; VI ethi (corum)”. Short inscription on the ffep ending with a price, possibly for the rubrication only, of 1/2 R (perhaps Rheinischer Gulden aka florenus Rheni, used in Rhineland 14th-15th c.) Modern bookplate of the collector Eckhard Günther (purchased 1977). With a typed expertise by the Cologne historian and archivist Dr. Joachim Vennebusch from Dec. 1977.
ANNOTATIONS: The text has interlinear and marginal glosses throughout. A preliminary examination (the complete manuscript is unstudied) shows that the notes include aids for comprehension (e.g. Bk I, v. 1, “fert animus” glossed as “cupit mens”, etymological explanations (e.g. Bk I, v. 14, “Amphitrites” with the note: “ab ‘am’ circum et ‘trites’ idest tero, -is, quia circumterit terram.” and Bk. I, v. 106 “patula Iovis arbore” with the explanation: “‘patens’ quod quandoque clauditur ut oculi, ‘patulum’ quod semper apertum ut aures, arbores.”
ALTERNATIVE READINGS: the interlinear notes contain numerous alternate readings, testifying to the use of at least one other manuscript of the text or a commentary. Some examples chosen at random are: Bk. I, v. 15 (ether) al. Aer; Bk VIII, v. 22 (habitusque) viros; Bk VIII, v. 838 (cremans) faces; Bk IX, v. 794 (Dona) Vota; Bk. X, v. 29 (iunxit) vicit; Bk. 10, v. 733 (fulvo) pluvio, etc.
With thanks to Dr. Sara Trevisan for analyzing the script and Dr. Joachim Vennebusch for his assessment of the manuscript.
For comparison of the watermark, see Briquet: Nos. 11797 PRAGUE 1450, GERMANY 1446-55; 11799 GERMANY 1459-1482; 11803 AUSTRIA 1468