¶ Hegesippus — Hystoria egisippi de excidio Jerusalem (12th century) [MS]

October 11, 2017

12th cent.

Hegesippus. Hystoria egisippi de excidio Jerusalem.

Illuminated manuscript. Winchester, England, 12th century. 115 leaves.

Morris’s instructions to Quaritch were to pay no more than £150, and both he and Sydney Cockerell were surprised when the manuscript realized such a low price at Sotheby’s. Cockerell commented in his diary, 15 June 1896: “The Hegessipus [sic] MS in 12th c. Winchester binding only fetched £13 at Sotheby’s on Saturday!” Two days later he wrote, “In aftn. went down to Folkestone, to stay with W.M. at the Norfolk Hotel, which has proved very comfortable for him. . . . I took down the Hegessipus with the 12th c. binding, with which he was much pleased.”

When Bennett sold a large portion of the Morris library in 1898, F. S. Ellis grumbled, “What a dolt & idiot must that Bennett be to know no better than turn out that Hegesippus. Had the book sale been on the Ex[ecut]ors acc[oun]t of course I should have taken pains to explain to people the value of the book, but as we have already done so to Chatto I do not feel bound to say more to him about it & wd. ask you not to change it. It will probably go for a large sum—but possibly not & I shall send a moderate comm[ission] for it on the chance. Of course I could not afford to give what I consider its real value” (Ellis to Cockerell, 9 November 1898 [British Library Add. Ms. 52715]). The Athenaeum, in its account of the 1898 sale, offered a similar observation: “The surprise of the sale was perhaps the MS. of Hegesippus, ‘De Excidio Judaeorum, Lib. V.,’ in the original Winchester binding of the twelfth century, and this has gone to Mr. Yales Thompson’s choice collection. It occurred in the Phillipss sale of 1891 [sic], but the interesting character of the binding was not pointed out in the catalogue, so that it attracted no general notice and was knocked down for 13l.” (17 December 1898, p. 868).

Provenance: Thomas Thorpe (sold to Sir Thomas Phillips). — Sir Thomas Phillipps. — Phillips sale, Sotheby, 10 June 1896, lot 609 (sold for £13 to Quaritch for Morris). — Morris. — Richard Bennett. — Sotheby 1898, lot 580 (sold to Henry Yates Thomson for £180). — Henry Yates Thompson. — Thompson sale, Sotheby, 23 March 1920, lot 31 (sold to Quaritch for £740). — Charles William Dyson-Perrins. — Winchester Cathedral [gift from Dyson-Perrins, early 1948].

References: Ellis valuation, fol. 7, no. 105 (£100). — Ker, 4:601. — Schoenberg (SDBM_MS_3068)


Sotheby 1898:

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