19th-Century Antiphonal


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19th-Century Antiphonal


(ANTIPHONAL). Nineteenth-century Antiphonal: Tota pulchra es, Maria (Thou art entirely beautiful, Mary). [Chile], 19th century. Large folio (16 by 22 inches), contemporary full brown blind-tooled calf, original brass bosses.

Handsome 19th-century manuscript Church antiphonal, 116 pages, with musical staves scored in red, notes in black, verse stenciled in red and black, and 14 large decorative initials illuminated by hand in gilt, red and blue. In contemporary calf binding with brass furniture.

Antiphonal singing, the singing of Roman Catholic liturgical music, chant melodies and text by two alternating choirs, was introduced into the West in the 4th-century by St. Ambrose. Tota pulchra es, Maria is an old Catholic prayer, one of the five antiphons for the psalms of Second Vespers for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The title means "Thou art entirely beautiful, Mary" (referring to the Virgin Mary) and speaks of her immaculate conception. The verse relies on texts from the deuterocanonical book of Judith and the Song of Songs. This particular antiphonal was produced, probably in Chile, from stencils in the Bodoni typeface, designed by Giabattista Bodoni in 1788 and widely used after 1818 (when his widow published his complete Manuale Tipografico). The paper is heavy wove stock watermarked "A e L MAGNANI e C," century-old Italian papermakers who in the 19th century produced currency paper for many central banks of the world, including those of Chile. With 14 large illuminated initial letters, decorated with floral motifs, many with intricate runners in the leaf-and-tendril style. Manuscript books such as this were particularly precious. Their bindings were often "given bosses and skids to protect the covering material from damage when the books were placed flat on wooden desks or shelves" (Fine and Historic Bookbindings, 161). The use of metal furniture was reduced after 1500 as book production increased, but important books and manuscripts, such as religious texts, continued to be bound in this particular style for prominent display and use. Purported to have come originally from a convent in Santiago. Partial label from an auction house in Valparaiso.

Minor soiling to fore-edge margins, moderate rubbing and staining to contemporary calf. An extraordinary volume.

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