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The Psalterium Sancti Ruperti – Standard Edition
Price: € 1.380,00  
Date: 2007     ISBN: 978-3-201-01875-3

A unique carolingian treasure

How small can a book be so that one is still able to read it? In this day and age of computer-aided design in printing technology, the creation of such a work is no longer unattainable. But, imagine if you would, that on every page the size of only a matchbox, one must write by hand a readable text! Such a feat nowadays, seems to us to be almost impossible. Nevertheless, we find amongst the stock of hand-written library Codices, a codex whose greatness lies in how unimaginably diminutive it is: One of these precious rarities is the Psalterium Sancti Ruperti from the library foundation of St. Peter in Salzburg. The minuteness of this unique Codex is utterly breathtaking: with pages only 37 x 31 mm in size – the face of the text was required to be precisely 33 x 25 mm and composed of 18 lines. The exquisite legibility of the text with a font size of 1.5mm and a maximal line-spacing of only 1.2mm, bears testimony to the masterstroke of the unbeknownst writers.

Presentation

The Psalterium Sancti Ruperti, founded in the 8th century, rests today in the oldest library on Austrian soil. The manuscript was most likely written in the third-quarter of the 9th century in north-eastern France.
The note of possession “Manuale psalterii sancti Rudberti episcopi” found on the first page of the codex from the 15th century, is the earliest evidence that the manuscript was the rightful property of St. Peter Salzburg. Therefore, no connection can be made between the monastery's founder, Saint Rupert and ownership of the manuscript.
In Image 2r, a portrait of King David with his harp (most likely a Psalterium) is featured. Of course also included in this Carolingian Psalter is the Incipit Beatus vir-Initial in gold ink against a crimson background.
Rubricated Titles in Capitalis Rustica font and golden capital letters make the start of the prayers and verses easily recognizable. The sections of text written in gold against a crimson background as well as the gold initials found in Psalms 1, 51 and 101 lead us to believe that the customer of this magnificent manuscript probably came from royal surroundings. The body of text was written down in Carolingian minuscule. A special book binding feature is the open book spine of the Codex, whereby the two trusses with booklet seams and also two headbands are left visible. The rare binding of this manuscript dates back to the late middle-ages. Up until now, no other early middle-age codex with the aforementioned presentation has been found – therefore this Psalter is an absolute unique specimen of early middle-age book production.

Content

One opens the tiny-sized manuscript to find two prefaces:the introduction of the holy Hieronymus from the edition of his Gallicanum and the Prologue “Origo prophetiae Regis David” which explains the development of the Psalms. There is much to indicate that this minuscule Psalter was made for its' practical use and not as a status symbol and from the abundant signs of handling, come the evidence of its' frequent usage. It is indeed plausible that the owner of this miniature Psalter wanted to carry with him this little remembrance book at all times.
No publisher, up until now, has dared to produce so small a manuscript in the form of a facsimile: in order to meet the standards of a true-to-original reproduction, new manufacturing processes needed to be conceived, as well as costly and expensive adaptations for radiographic technology developed. The extreme care required during the handling of the small pages and book covers was a special challenge for the book binders.

With the aid of a special custom-built book binding apparatus, the book binder must use painstaking care and accuracy to sew layer upon layer together with two trusses to the book block. The work of fastening the two wooden book covers on is performed on a scale of mere millimetres, the most important requirement, for which, is the highest possible degree of concentration and years of experience in the art of book binding. As a result of this highly skilled and professional work, we are able to present to you the smallest facsimile in the world. It is for every facsimile collector and book lover, a rarity and available only in a one-time print run of 980 editions world-wide. The facsimile producers of this manuscript have brought an important reference of our cultural heritage out of the secluded libraries that only a handful of scientists have had access to and into a much wider circle of book lovers with interests in both art history and history in general.

Down to the smallest detail, this true-to-the-original facsimile edition serves as a complete substitute for the original manuscript and in so doing offers a completely undistorted insight into the aesthetic and spiritual world of the early middle ages.

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