Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Crazy Things I End Up With, Part N

Folio 7 of the collection of probate documents.
As I've written before here, I've come to realize that I am most interested in oddball items, of one sort or another. I am especially interested in manuscript material, of course, from almost all periods, but the older the better.

A couple of months ago, I was able to get a handful of gatherings from what once must have been a larger book: the leaves here are numbered from 7 to 63 (with some errors in foliation), but the whole looks like an Italian manuscript from the seventeenth century, recording a handful of family wills and related probate documents, in Latin or Italian.

The documents all seem to come from the de Maiore family, and they range in date from 1623 to 1683, and they were written in a number of hands. Most seem to have had a life as separate items until being bound together (most have been folded lengthwise, like many smaller legal booklets); now they are disband, but the regular foliation indicates these must have been bound up in a book.

As always, when I run across an inventory, of course I look to see if any members of this family mention books in their wills or estate documents. In this case, to my surprise and delight, it seemed that the last of the inventories here (dated 1683) did include two books:

Two breviaries and a clock.

Item due breviarij uno grandi dorato 
e l'altre della sorte comune
Item un orologio a campana

["Item: two breviaries, one large, with gold, and the other of the common sort.
Item: one clock with bells." After each entry is a brief notation, perhaps of value. I am not sure, but it may read "usato," meaning used.]

The description, of course, leaves it very unlikely that these books could ever be identified, unless they had an ownership inscription to match the inventory. But it's an interesting little moment, to see a gold-adorned breviary here, along with one of the common sort, being listed alongside a clock as a possession worth enumerating. 

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