Paper, 2° (fols. 1-165, 203-215), and parchment (fols. 166-202).
2. Tulip (“Fleur en Forme de Tulipe”),
6645 (1445, with variants to 1449) in
structure, but larger (5 cm tall) and bisected by a chainline 2.8 | 3 cm from
the ones to the right and left; cf. also Piccard
“Blatt - Blume - Baum” 1510 (1473) and 1511
(1466); see Mosser
2010, p. 65, and figs. 16 and 17: fols.
3. Unicorn’s head (“Einhorn”/“Tête de
Licorne”), nearest to Piccard
1343 (1435, 1436) and 1344 (1436); see Mosser
2010, p. 65, and figs. 18
and 19: fols. 146-165; 204-209; 211-215
29.3 x 20 cm (“Chancery”).
The MS was refoliated June 6, 1925. The following collation refers to this foliation;
the old foliation begins with “32.” A third foliation, in fols. 163-202,
records a misbinding of fols. 163-164 (the inner bifolium of Q ) as fols. 208-209,
a state now corrected.
[1-3]8 [inferred: now lost]
8 (–1, 2, 3) fols. 1-5
[5-13]8 fols. 6-77 (signed “d-m”)
8 (–1.8) fols. 78-83 (signed
8 fols. 84-91 (signed “o”)
8 (–1.8) fols. 92-97 (signed
[17-24]8 fols. 98-161 (signed “q-z”)
4 fols. 162-165 (signed “i-j” on fols. 162
[26-29]8 fols. 166-197
8 (–4.5, 6) fols. 198-202
8 fols. 203-210 (signed “||”)
(–6-10) fols. 211-215 (signed
Single column. In the parchment section, the written space is approximately 22.5 x 13.5 cm,
ruled in red ink, 39 lines per page. In the paper section, the written space measures
approximately 19.5 x 11.5 cm in the verse sections and 20.5 x 13.5 cm in the prose,
unruled, 34 lines per page, margined in drypoint. Catchwords occur throughout on the final
verso of the gathering except on fol. 181v, where MkPro ends, leaving twenty lines blank. Rubricated running heads are preceded by
blue paraphs; these appear to be added in the parchment section at the time the paper
section was executed, as the w graph characteristic of the scribe’s
stint in the latter part of the paper section appears in the running heads of the parchment
section (see below under Hands). 3-line blue
initials, without decoration, mark prologues and internal textual divisions; beginnings of
tales are marked by 3-line blue initials with red penwork sprays. Incipits and explicits
are also in rubric.
Although there are some differences in the handwriting of the two sections, as described below,
both sections are copied by the Beryn
The hand of the parchment section (“Helmingham Parchment”), writes a hybrid anglicana script, with numerous secretary characteristics (such as the calligraphic alternation of thick and thin
strokes, tapered descenders, B-shaped s), featuring semiquadrata serifs, a with a single lobe divided by a
cross-stroke (“straight-sided” a), tailed g
with horns, looped d, z-shaped r in ligature with o, long r finally, a form of short r in
which the shoulder is separated from the 2-shaped body, circular e, with open
e infrequently. The greatest contrast in the two stints is in the w graph, which in the parchment section resembles a looped l+b (or
kidney-shaped element). The body height is approximately 2 mm.
In the the paper sections the scribe (“Helmingham Paper”) also writes a mixed anglicana script, more cursive in appearance than Helmingham
Parchment, with no feet on the minims: tailed g, B-shaped s
finally, an a similar in construction to that of No. 1, circular e, line-final n with an otiose flourish, long tails on y and h, often bumping the next line, a two-stroke short r that often closes on the right, and two forms of w: a
graph consisting of a “v+B” form, and a second that somewhat resembles a
figure-8 turned on its side, with the minims slanting leftward (this form, however, only begins
to appear regularly in the Clerk’s Tale, ca. fol. 167v). The d graph is looped. The body height is
approximately 2 mm.
Where the two are juxtaposed, as at the opening of fols. 165v-166r, the hand of the parchment section can be seen to have a much more
consistent vertical alignment, a much “neater” and somewhat “squarer”
appearance, whereas the hand of the paper section appears more cursive and perhaps more fluid,
with a more slender duct. In both stints, the scribe employes a “swan-necked” sigma
Only the rubrication, blue initials and red penwork described under Format.
Oak boards, very worm-eaten; five double alum-tawed thongs, entering the boards in five tunnels,
emerging into five channels. Re-backed in 1925, using the old thongs. Remains of a brass clasp
are visible at the center fore-edge of the back cover, and a fabric-backed leather strap in the
same location on the front cover.note
Two nineteenth-century(?) paper fly leaves at the front with “Van
Gelder” on the first (the countermark) and a “Fortuna” watermark (IPH
typological standard B4/3/6) on the second.note
These are followed by a
tipped-in paper leaf with a table of contents (modern), an old parchment pastedown(?), with
worming and stains matching up with the front board, and an old paper fly leaf with a
Stag’s head (“Tête de
At the rear are two more modern paper
fly leaves, with the “Fortuna” watermark on the first and the “Van
Gelder” countermark on the last.
Blake, Norman F. The Textual Tradition of the Canterbury Tales.
London: Edward Arnold, 1985. 155-61.
Boyd, Beverly. “The Infamous b-Text of The Canterbury
Tales.” Manuscripta 34 (1990): 233-38.
Campbell, Jackson J. “Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.” Princeton University Library Chronicle 26 (1964): 5-6.
Dix, William S. “Four Notable Acquisitions.” Princeton
University Library Chronicle 26 (1964): 3-5.
Everett, Virginia Thornton. [Mrs. Lowell P. Leland]. “A Study of the Scribal Editing
in Twelve MSS of the Canterbury Tales.” Diss. University of Chicago, 1940. 34-8.
Hammond, Eleanor P. Chaucer: A Bibliographical Manual. 1908; rpt. New
York: Peter Smith, 1933. 196.
Horobin, Simon. “The Scribe of the Helmingham and Northumberland Manuscripts of the
Canterbury Tales.” Neophilologus 84 (2000): 457-65. [facsimile of fol. 77 v]
Lerer, Seth. “Rewriting Chaucer: Two Fifteenth-Century Readings of The Canterbury Tales.” Viator 19 (1988): 311-26.
Lerer, Seth. Chaucer and His Readers: Imagining the Author in Late Medieval
England. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.
Lerer, Seth. “The Princeton Canterbury Tales.” In David
Anderson, ed. Sixty Bokes Olde and Newe. Knoxville: New Chaucer Society, n.d. 7-8. [facsimile of fol. 161r]
Manly, John M., and Edith Rickert, eds. The Text of the Canterbury Tales:
Studied on the Basis of All Known Manuscripts. 8 vols. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1940. 1:256-65.
McCormick, Sir William and Janet E. Heseltine. The Manuscripts of
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: A Critical Description of Their Contents. Oxford: Clarendon, 1933. 233-43.
Mosser, Daniel W. “The Paper Stocks of the Beryn Scribe.” Journal of the Early Book Society. 13 (2010): 63-93.
Mosser, Daniel W. and Linne R. Mooney. “More Manuscripts by the Beryn Scribe and His Cohort.” Chaucer
Review 49 (2014): 39-76.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. The Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales.
Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991. 57-8.
Seymour, Michael C. A Catalogue of Chaucer Manuscripts. Volume II, The
Canterbury Tales. Aldershot and Brookfield: Scolar Press, 1997. 225-30.
Witten, Laurence. Catalogue No. 5. (New Haven, CT: 1962). Item 12. 20-1.