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Manuscript Description
London, Royal College of Physicians MS 388
MS Appellation:Py (Manly and Rickert)
Title:Canterbury Tales
Contents:Canterbury Tales
Date Range:1460-1480
Scribal Hands:
Examples of the hand. Click on the link above for full details and images of individual letter forms.

Dialect:Hammond scribe : Standardised/Western/Kentish
No of Folios:iii + 364 + i
Pagination:Modern pencil in the top right corner of recto folios.
Quiring:20's 1-11(20), 12(16), 13(20), 14(15 missing i, ii, iii, xix, xx), 15-18(20), 19(13 missing xiv-xx)
Signatures:The first quire uses arabic numerals in the bottom right corner of recto folios. Thereafter the signatures a-s are regularly visible.
Catchwords:Catchwords regularly present on the verso of the twentieth leaf of the quire.
Page Size:280 x 190
Frame:Pricked and ruled in dry-point.
Writing Space:200 x 115
Incipits and Explicits:Latin Incipits and Explicits which sometimes omit the name of the tale-teller.
Running Titles:No running titles.
Borders:On f1r a simple red and blue ink decoration in top and side margins.
Paragraph Marks:Blue paraphs, initial letters of lines tipped with red ink, red underlining of some words.
Flourished Initials:4-line blue initial with red flourishing on f1r. Subsequent 2 or 3-line blue initials with or without red flourishing begin prologues and tales.
Other Names (not owners):The name 'Thomas ffelde' is also visible on the verso of flyleaf ii. Manly and Rickert suggest that he may be the son of one John Felde, Merchant of the Staple at Calais in the middle of the fifteenth century. On the verso of flyleaf iii is the following:'Istelib- mateus widmarpowell William Renold'. Once again Manly and Rickert suggest a London connection (parish of St Giles without, Cripplgate) for Matthew Widmerpole. After ownership by Widmerpole the manuscript appears to have passed into ownership of the Pierrepont family and may have gone from them directly to the Library of the Royal College of Physicians. However, as usual, there are other possibilities.
Miscellaneous Info:The variety of interesting textual affiliations of some of the tales in this manuscript, the fact that the scribe is known to have copied a number of other manuscripts, and the probable ownership by London residents early in its life-history make this a manuscript worthy of further study.
Further Information:Manly and Rickert I: 439-446. Seymour II: 150-154. Mooney, Linne R. 'A Middle English Text on the Seven Liberal Arts'. Speculum 68 (1993): 1027-52. Mosser, Daniel W. 'Dating the Manuscripts of the 'Hammond Scribe': What the Paper Evidence Tells Us'. Journal of the Early Book Society 10 (2007): 31-70.
Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York, King's Manor, York YO1 7EP