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Manuscript Description
London, British Library MS Lansdowne 851
MS Appellation:La (Manly and Rickert)
Title:Canterbury Tales
Contents:Canterbury Tales
Date Range:1400-1425
Scribal Hands:
Examples of the hand. Click on the link above for full details and images of individual letter forms.

No of Folios:i marbled flyleaf + i paper flyleaf + i marbled flyleaf + parchment flyleaf (life of Geoffrey Chaucer and numbered 1) + 2-255 + ii paper flyleaves + i marbled flyleaf
Pagination:Modern foliation 1-255 includes the original vellum flyleaf now with a description of the life of Chaucer.
Quiring:1-29(8), 30(7-missing vii), 31(8), 32(7-stub of 8 visible)
Signatures:No original signatures. Traces of some pencil signatures but may be modern.
Catchwords:In scrolled box sometimes shaded; elaborate and in right of text-box space in lower margin about one third of the way down.
Page Size:345 x 220
Frame:Square frame 2 x vertical, 2 x horizontal, ruled within in grey and brown.
Writing Space:240 x 133
Incipits and Explicits:In red ink within text box frame explicit and incipits.
Marginal Headings:Some notes left in by scribe, some glosses usually in ink of text (but not many).
Running Titles:Red ink in top margin by scribe '(th)e' followed by 'name of pilgrim'.
Title by Scribe:In red ink above the top border in hand of scribe 'Incipit prologus fabular(um) cantuar(etc)
Borders:First is a whole vinet border; others are three quarter borders; gold, rose, blue, red, little bits of green.
Historiated Initials:Chaucer in first initial.
Illuminated Initials:Initials of up to 6 lines for beginning of tales in blue and rose on gold ground; 2 or 3-line gold champe letters on rose and blue background to begin prologues.
Paragraph Marks:Blue with red flourishing, gold with blue; used infrequently in text but used as stanza dividers and also used to precede glosses.
Flourished Initials:First initial of a line usually has some kind of flourished decoration; sometimes in ink of text, sometimes in red and blue ink.
Other Names (not owners):Seymour corrects one of Manly and Rickert's suggestions about ownership by Baron Chandos. Bought by the marquess of Lansdowne in 1771 and passed to the British Museum in 1807.
Further Information:Manly and Rickert I: 304-308. Seymour II: 131-135
Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York, King's Manor, York YO1 7EP