A Strange Jewel: The Morgan Library and a Sixteenth-Century Book of Hours June 11, 2013 – Posted in: Exhibits

The Van Damme Hours

They call this beautiful book The Van Damme Hours after its Flemish scribe, Antonius van Damme. It was illuminated by Simon Bering.

Though no one knows for sure who commissioned the book there is ample documentation on the short lineage of who owned the book before it was acquired by J.P. Morgan in 1911.

It all started with John Strange “a British dilettante whose eclectic interests included everything from sea sponges to Venetian paintings.” Luckily his interests also included books. Lots of them. His library consisted of near 80,000 volumes and it took fifty-six days to auction it off after he died!

One of the volumes in the library was The Van Damme Hours and Strange spiced it up by having a distinctive detachable silver filigree binding made for it.

Now, after a multi-year delay due to the technical challenges of the binding, a facsimile edition of this stunning work is available from Faksimile Verlag in two editions:

One is a leather-bound edition, limited to 882 copies, and featuring a stamped pattern of the filigree binding.

The other is a velvet-bound deluxe edition, limited to 98 copies, which includes a replica of the silver filigree binding. “After years of research, the binding has been successfully replicated by silversmiths working at Buchbinderei Burkhardt AG, Moenschaltdorf, a small artisan bookbindery in Switzerland.”

Each edition is accompanied by a four-chapter commentary volume by Roger Wieck, Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the Morgan.

To celebrate the publication The Morgan has broke out the original copy which will be on display through October. Both editions  are available through the Morgan shop.

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