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Walters Ms. W.23, Psalter

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Shelf mark




Text title
Psalter and Office of the Dead


This manuscript is housed in a sumptuous binding, which, though not original to the book, contains several striking medieval elements. The manuscript is listed in 1864 as coming from the collection of Guglielmo Libri, who was notorious for having ornate bindings and inscriptions added to existing manuscripts, so it is likely the binding was created for him. It was listed as an authentic, fully medieval treasure binding in Libri's catalog. Because of the fragile nature of the binding, the book was not able to be opened, and the information regarding the interior in this catalog entry is derived from earlier images and notes.


Early 13th century CE


South Germany






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Heavy, darkened parchment; some folios throughout badly damaged and in places fragmentary; leather tabs that appear to be original have been inserted at various points


Foliation: 152


Formula: 1-19(8)

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None



16.0 cm wide by 25.0 cm high

Written surface

11.5 cm wide by 18.75 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 18

fols. 1r - 152v:
  1. Title: Psalter and Office of the Dead
  2. Contents: Calendar missing
  3. Hand note: Primitive Gothic textura, 5-5.5 mm high
  4. Decoration note: Eight decorated initials, now badly abraded, in green, red, blue, gold, and silver (5-11 lines); rubrics and some capitals in red; text in brown ink
fols. 1r - 146r:
  1. Title: Psalter
  2. Incipit: Beatus vir
  3. Decoration note: Eight decorated initials
fols. 146r - 152v:
  1. Title: Office of the Dead
  2. Contents: Fol. 146v: Redemptor meus; fol. 147r: Requiem eternam; fol. 147v: Absolve domine; fol. 148r: Rogamus te; fol. 148v: Memento queso; fols. 148v-149r: Ne tradas; fol. 149v: Quomodo confitebor; fol. 150r: Deus eterne; fol. 150v: Libera me


The binding is not original.

Treasure binding made up of various elements, some medieval and some modern, put together somewhat crudely, probably in the mid nineteenth century, and likely by or for Guglielmo Libri; non-medieval oak boards; upper board has holes from earlier fastenings; spine covered in green velvet; front cover had as centerpiece a seated apostle in copper (now removed, accession no. 53.144), which would have originally decorated a medieval altar; at each corner were Mosan enamel plates (the upper two have been removed); on either side are two Rhenish bone carvings, marked "Joad" and "Davi" ("Joad" is probably not medieval); copper gilt panels at top and bottom


Guglielmo Libri, by 1864, listed as no. 57 in his sale catalog of that year; binding very possibly created for him, and sold as original

Purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, before 1931, possibly from Léon Gruel, Paris; cf. the pattern of the strips of gilt metal around the recess with that on W.16


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935. p. 769. no. 77.

Catalogue of the Magnificent Collection of Precious Manuscripts and Objects of Art and Vertu, of M. Guglielmo Libri. Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 1864, p. 18. no. 57.

Ottosen, K. The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead. Aarhus, Denmark : Aarhus University Press, 1993, pp. viii, 194, 356.


Catalogers: Kauffman, Nicholas; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.