Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rare Liturgical Books from Seminary Collection on Sale - Guest Article by Mr Samuel Howard

In an article last Thursday, the New York Times reported that St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is selling approximately 250 rare books at auction on October 27, through Swann Auction Galleries in New York City. The sale follows the auction of two dozen of the seminary’s books in an Americana auction last month.
Saint Charles Borromeo, the seminary of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, made news last year when it offered a number of Thomas Eakins paintings for sale through Christie’s. The Philadelphia Enquirer reported at the time that the seminary intended to use the proceeds to “defray the cost of renovating and consolidating the Wynnewood campus from about 75 acres to 35, to serve an enrollment that is down 75 percent from its peak of 534 in 1960.”
The upcoming auction caught my eye on Thursday when listings from the auction catalog started showing up in my eBay feeds set up to find listings for Eastern Rite liturgical books.
Menologium Graecorum, 1727
The image above is a Menologium Graecorum, which contains proper texts for the Byzantine rite in Greek and Latin, edited by Cardinal Annibale Albani and published at Urbino in 1727. The auction also includes two Maronite books [1] [2], a Syro-malabar book, a number of other Greek Orthodox books, and many other Latin rite books, including a “near miniature” 1734 book of the day hours for the Canons Regular of the Lateran.
Breviarium Romanum, pars hiemalis, 14th century
One of the more valuable items in the auction is an Italian 14th century vellum manuscript of the Breviarium Romanum, pars hiemalis, estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.
Missale Romanum Slavonico idiomate. Jussu SS. D. N. Papae Urbani Octavi editum, 1741
Of particular interest to New Liturgical Movement readers, based on their past interests, may be this Glagolitic missal, published in Rome in 1741.
Lectionary for Mass, 1970 
At least one modern liturgical book is found in the action, a richly bound lectionary for the revised Roman Rite. The custom binding and slipcase was commissioned by the seminary from artist Fritz Eberhardt (1917-1997), described as one of the finest bookbinders of the 20th century. The catalog describes it as “brown morocco gilt- and blind-stamped to cruciform design with symbols of the four Evangelists surrounding red morocco center onlay with gilt alpha on front cover and omega on rear cover, red morocco onlays on spine, wide turn-ins gilt-tooled with irregular lines; gilt edges gauffered to ornamental pattern; contents clean; suede-lined linen slipcase with onlaid brown morocco spine panel blind-stamped with the Evangelists’ symbols.” The lectionary is the 1970 American version utilizing the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition.
Biblia Latina, 1477
Non-liturgical texts are also among those being auctioned. The New York Times article highlights a “vellum Bible published in 1477 (estimated at $10,000 to $15,000) [that] has a bookplate from a Bavarian monastery,” according to the auction house, “the Augustinian monastery of St. Nicola at Passau, Bavaria.” An article at Fine Books and Collections magazine notes what they see as some of the other important non-liturgical texts.
The New Testament of Jesus Christ translated faithfully into English, 1582
They include, a New Testament published in Rheims in 1582, the first Catholic version of the New Testament in English,
St. Antoninus Florentinus, Summa Theologica
St. Antoninus Florentinus's Summa Theologica, published in Venice in the 15th century,
Athanasuis Kircher, Prodromus Coptus sive Aegyptiacus, 1636
and Athanasuis Kircher’s Prodromus Coptus sive Aegyptiacus, which is described as “the first European grammar of Coptic.” It is one of two Kircher books from St. Charles in the auction and one of several early grammars or dictionaries of non-European languages. Particularly interesting to me is a 1502-03 edition of the works of Pseudo-Dionysius with “Latin translations by Marsilio Ficino and Ambrogio Traversari with commentary by Hugh of St. Victor, Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, and others; edited by Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples.” The complete catalog is available on the web site of Swann Auction Galleries
Colin Campbell Cooper's “View of St. Peter’s, Rome”
Saint Charles Borromeo’s efforts to raise money by deaccessioning parts of its holdings have not been entirely successful. When the school attempted to auction a painting of Saint Peter’s Basilica by Eakin’s student Colin Campbell Cooper at Bonham’s in May, the picture failed to sell. A seminary official told the Times it has been returned to the seminary.
Samuel J. Howard writes from New York City, where he sings at St. Michael's Russian Catholic Church and sings and serves at the Church of the Holy Innocents(Twitter: @Jahaza) Our thanks to him for sharing this article with our readers.

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