A Digital Catalogue of the
Pre-1500 Manuscripts and Incunables of the
Canterbury Tales
Second Edition
Location:  New HavenTakamiya Deposit, Beinecke Library  MS 24
Alternate identifier:  Devonshire/Chatsworth
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1. Canterbury Tales (DIMEV 6414): fols. 1r-274r
2. Lydgate’s “Life of St. Margaret” (DIMEV 720note: fols. 275r-282v
Progress of Copying: 
Straightforward. The MS is likely copied from En¹, with some slight influences from Ra³-Tc¹. There are numerous careful erasures, too thorough to permit any traces to be detected with ultra-violet light. There are also occasional cross-outs in red ink (fols. 124v, 175v). As the rubrication of the incipits and of the rare marginal notations are by the scribe (e.g., fol. 115r, “Respice quomodo Clericus Cantat”), it is reasonable to assume that the cross-outs in red were made at the time of rubrication, perhaps during a second phase of proof-reading. The scribe adds a colophon to the end of the CT portion of the MS (fol. 274r): “Of your charite praieth for the writer of this book.” Unfortunately, no further identification is provided. There is also an intriguing set of initials in the margin of fol. 98v. The lower case letter .d. is written twice in a circle attached to the strapwork initial on that page.

Very high quality parchment.
Page Size:  
Approximately 37.5 x 26 cm (pages trimmed).
4 paper fly leaves
[1-35]8, fols. 1-280
[36]2, fols. 281-2
4 paper fly leaves
The written space measures 24 x 13 cm, but reduces to 24 x 11 cm in Q [2]. Ruled in purple, 39-42 lines per page, single columns. Modern foliation in pencil at the top right. The first letter (initial) of each line is highlighted by a red capital stroke throughout, except for all of Quires [2] and [10], and the prose sections. Larger strapwork initials–brown ink with yellow and purple fills, and light brown penwork, some with red capital strokes–occur at the beginning of the prologues. These appear to be sketched first in light brown crayon, and then gone over in ink. Incipits and explicits are rubric. Catchwords, occurring on the final verso of gatherings, are centered. Running heads are in dark brown ink, as is the text. The body height of the text script is 2 mm. A ruled line is 5 mm high. The first line of text in a tale or prologue measures 15 mm of body height, while the running heads are 10 mm.
The Devonshire scribe was one of a group of craftsmen who produced at least fourteen extant MSS and fragments. See “Devonshire group.”
The Ds¹ scribe’s hand is a hybrid secretary of the mid-fifteenth century. All of the scribes’ hands in this group feature a marked contrast of hairline connecting strokes with heavy vertical strokes; note especially the “rolled umbrella” (Preston and Yeandle’s terminology) descenders of f and long s. The tail of the Devonshire scribe’s y is often of only hairline thickness. Serifs reflect a marked influence of semiquadrata features. The scribe uses secretary letter forms almost exclusively, though looped d alternates with the unlooped form The only instance of a “hooked” g that we have found in Ds¹ occurs in the explict on fol. 162r, which also illustrates the scribe’s display script: an elongated form of textura quadrata (semiquadrata), with pronounced horns at both the tops and bottoms of the bodies of letters, is used for running heads and for the incipits/explicits for tales and prologues. The letters are two lines high (10 mm, except the first line of the CT, where they are three lines high), with extremely short descenders and 1-2 line ascenders, which occasionally are forked. The marked narrowness of the body relative to the height of the letter is distinctive. Because of the size of the letters, lines of poetry often spill over into the next line; thus rhymes often are moved to the middle of a line, especially when there is a large (8-10 line) initial at the beginning as well.
The scribe of Ra³ (characterized by yet another form of g–which has a distinctive, elongated flourish to the tail–among numerous other features) may have made a single correction in “The Life of St. Margaret” on fol. 275v, 13 up (l. 60 of the text; three up in the image provided here), where the final two letters of the word “thing” have been written by a different scribe. In 2003, the HUMI Project at Keio University was able to manipulate a digital image of the correction to uncover the bottom layer, revealing that the scribe originally wrote thng, with the usual (for this manuscript) unhooked form of g.note An alternative way to account for this, and one that I now favor, is the argument that the Ra³ scribe’s hand constitutes a development of the Devonshire scribe’s hand at a later stage in his career.note
A wide, squared-off, vinet border on fol. 1r contains the colors red, blue, green, gold, rose (red highlighted with white), and whitish-purple (purple highlighted with white). Scott observes that the interlacing [vines twisting “over and under each other”] employed here is “rarely used after 1410, and, if so, probably as a deliberate archaizing feature (e.g. Tokyo, Takamiya MS 24, Devonshire Chaucer, c. 1470, ff. 1r, 53v)” (2002, p. 11). The first initial is historiated, containing a man, dressed in a red robe, seated on a green couch, which has blue and red ornaments and white flowers (daisies?).note The wall or tapestry which forms the backdrop is red and gold; the bottom of the sun is visible at the top, from which golden rays emanate. I cannot make out any semblance of the “cloud” referred to by Margaret Rickert (Manly-Rickert 1:118). Seymour believes the portrait to be of Chaucer, “seated out of doors on a bank of flowers in sunshine” (1982, p. 621), echoing, perhaps, Kelliher’s description (1977): “The subject is seated out of doors, on a flowery bank.” The “seat” is definitely artificial, with 90° angles at the top of the seat and where the bottom intersects with the floor/ground. The red background would also suggest an indoor location. The sun, however, supports an outdoor locus. Perhaps the solution to this is that the scene alludes to the Legend of Good Women, in which the narrator wishes to glimpse the “dayseie” at first light (G97-99).note
Throughout the MS are large, well-executed strapwork initials (see above under Format) at the beginnings of prologues and illuminated, large (6-12 line) initials with ¾ borders.
Very dark purple morocco, early nineteenth century. Wide gilt borders, with the Roxburghe arms in the lower center, Devonshire crest in the middle, and the initials “WS” within a capital “D” (William Spencer Devonshire), surmounted by a crown above. Lined with brown silk doublures.

s. XV3/4
See the Language section of the Hooked-g Scribes article.
On fol. 274v, at the top of the page, someone has sketched a shield, below which is the name “Knyvet.” At the foot of the same page another shield has been sketched. Above the shield is written “Viuat tandem veritas qd Walpole,” and below it, “Walpole.” Manly-Rickert identify the arms in the first shield as belonging to “Sir Edmund Knyvett (d.1546) of Buckenham, Norf., and of his wife, Jane Bourchier (d.1561), daughter of John Lord Berners, the translator.” They point out that “Katherine Knyvett (d.1595), daughter of Sir Edmund, married John Walpole, serjeant-at-law (d.1557/8).” Another shield appears on fol. 282v, bearing the coat of arms of Katherine’s second husband, Thomas Skarlet (Manly-Rickert 1:120). “Hamon le Strange” also has inscribed his name on that page, as well as on the fourth fly leaf. Manly-Rickert produce the connection: “Anne Knyvett, great-niece of Katherine, married Henry Spelman (d.1581; one of Walpole’s executors); and his son by a second wife was the antiquary Sir Henry Spelman (d.1641), whose initials were those on the old binding. Sir Henry Spelman married Eleanor L’Estrange, through whom the MS probably passed into the L’Estrange family, of whom three were named Hamo in the 17 C….In the early 18 C the MS belonged to Sir Nicholas L’Estrange, from whose son Hamo (d.1715) Urry borrowed it” (1:120-21).
In British Library MS Add. 38178, fol. 203r, is a note written by Urry, which seems to refer unmistakably to Ds¹: “Mr L’Estrange procured from his father Sr Nicholas L’Estrange The fairest and best preserved MS. very well illuminated and not deficient in any Leaves as I see contains the following tales it has been newbound anno 1623. and on the outside at the bottom of the cover is Sr H. S., maybe it formerly belonged to Sr Harry Spelman. Tho’ I doe not see his name upon The top of the first leaf as was his custom to mark his MSS. but that might have been cutt of by the bynder of the book . when it gott new covers. It begins with WHAN THAT APRILLE with his flouris [sic] soote the drouӡt [sic] of Marche had persed the roote & bathed every [sic] vein in such licour, of such vertu engendred is the flour [sic].”
Together with the other details, Urry’s attempt to reproduce the elongated textura script in which the first three words of the MS are written makes the reference to Ds¹ more certain.
At some point, the MS passed into the possession of George Mason; it is described in the Mason sale catalogue of April 25, 1799, at which “it was presumably bought by the third Duke of Roxburghe (d.1804).” His library was sold in 1812 and the MS “was bought then or soon after by the Duke of Devonshire” (Manly-Rickert 1:121) for £357 (Norman 1974).
On June 6, 1974, nineteen books and two MSS were offered for sale at Christie’s by the Chatsworth library, “sold on behalf of the Chatsworth Settlement, a private trust which now owns Chatsworth, its estates, art collections and library, rather than the Duke of Devonshire himself” (Norman 1974). Lew D. Feldman, of the House of El Dieff, Inc., New York, bought the MS for £90,000 ($216,000) at the London auction (Norman 1974; New York Times 1974). Feldman is quoted as saying, “I would have bid without limit…. I would have paid £200,000 or £250,000, what difference does it make?” (Norman June 1974). When Feldman was asked if he was acting on behalf of a client, he was reported to reply: “I please myself” (“”Canterbury’ MS. Sold for $216,000”). The House of El Dieff subsequently offered the MS for sale in its 1975 Fortieth Anniversary Catalogue Containing Forty Selections from Stock (Selection 1).
On November 30, 1976, The New York Times printed Mr. Feldman’s obituary (Feron 1976). In 1977, Warren Howell (John Howell Books, San Francisco) purchased the MS for an anonymous client (Chernofsky 1977). At some point after Howell’s purchase, it was acquired by Mr. Mitsuo Nitta, President of Yushodo Co., Ltd, Tokyo, acting on behalf of Toshiyuki Takamiya.note

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Christie’s sale catalogue. “Nineteen Printed Books 1459-1501 and Two Illuminated Manuscripts from the Chatsworth Library.” Thursday, June 6, 1974. Number 21.
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