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Service Books

A large number of leaves in our collection come from service books, or books that were used during the Catholic mass and liturgical year. Service books are often fragmentary; either they are richly decorated and ideal for individual sale, or they contain oudated forms of the mass and are ideal for binding fragments.

Rueter FF 0001r.jpg

Leaf from Antiphonal, Italy, 1350-1499
Rueter FF 0001

Service books could be quite large, like the Antiphonal shown at left, so that several people could read them at once. This leaf measures over 50 cm tall and over 30 cm wide. In the case of this antiphonal, it was likely much less expensive to produce one manuscript for a group of people to sing from than to produce individual manuscripts for each singer. Larger pages were probably also useful due to dim lighting in churches and the often poor eyesight of the singers! Larger manuscripts, however, were also more prone to being dismembered, because of their ability to fetch a good price.

Service Books