Book of Hours with pilgrim badges

Acquired with financial support from various foundations from antiquarian bookseller F. Knuf, Buren (Gld.)
Acquisition: 1993 en 2008
Date: Ca. 1440-1460
Size: 20 x 13 cm.
Calling code: 77 L 60

This breviary featuring a calendar with the regional feast days of St Donation (14 October) and St Basil (14 June), was made in Bruges in the mid-fifteenth century. It also contains eleven full-page miniatures by an artist working in Bruges whose identity is unknown. Referred to as the Master of the Small Eyes (aux yeux bridées), he worked with bold colours, as can be seen in the bright borders and initials. This Book of Hours is particularly unique due to the dozens of pilgrim badges that have been fastened inside. It was not uncommon in the late Middle Ages for people to make pilgrimages, sometimes to far distant places. From the thirteenth century onwards, souvenirs were sold to the faithful at places of pilgrimage, as still happens today at tourist destinations. These souvenirs took the form of badges or insignias. The original owners of this manuscript collected 23 silver and gilded pilgrim badges, which they stitched to different pages of the manuscript.

A later owner attached them to a single page at the back. The badges were made by sharply striking a metal plate with a stamp. These badges come from pilgrims' destinations in the Low Countries and Northern France. In 2008, a page that had been cut and removed from the manuscript years before the Koninklijke Bibliotheek acquired it was returned by an anonymous donor. This page is interesting because it gives the name and motto of an earlier owner of the manuscript. It tells us that the manuscript belonged to François d'Oiselet at the beginning of the seventeenth century. With the return of this page to the manuscript, a lost piece of its history and provenance has once again been restored. (KR)