This guide identified medieval manuscripts and facsimiles in Special Collections.
Because medieval manuscripts were each made by hand (manus is Latin for hand), they were very expensive and relatively rare. Centuries later, those original books are still very expensive and have become even rarer. Many of these one-of-a-kind items are held in museums and libraries in Europe and therefore inaccessible to most people in the U.S.
Facsimiles are copies of these unique manuscripts, created in lots of a few hundred rather than one at a time. Early facsimiles tend to be books with black and white images of the manuscript printed within the pages of the facsimiles. These are useful for study, or to prepare for working with the original, and are much easier to handle than microfilm. Later facsimiles have become increasingly realistic, reproducing the size and colors of the original, often bound with a cover similar to the one currently housing the manuscript. Some modern facsimiles include real gold leaf, make holes in the pages to correspond with the manuscript, and even use real thread to mimic repairs.
The facsimiles in this guide have been divided into Full-Format (the very realistic ones), Complete (the early ones), and Selected Images (only the fancy pages, often with helpful commentary). Within each tab, they are grouped by centuries, to facilitate making comparisons or seeing developments across time.
Use the following terms to locate Special Collections medieval facsimiles and rare books. Try combining several terms to return more relevant results.
Apocalypse - another name for the book of Revelation
Book of Hours (Fr. Heures) - a collection of prayers, psalms, and other texts meant for personal use
Codex (pl. codices) - book format, as opposed to a scroll
Evangelistary - selections from the Gospels to be read during worship services
Psalter - the book of Psalms, intended for use in worship services
Sacramentary - a collection of the words said by a priest while leading various kinds of worship services