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Rare Book Collections: Provenance of the 1484 Missal

Provenance of the 1484 Missal

Intriguingly, the copy of the 1484 Roman Missal in The Gonzaga Collection was formerly owned by the Arundel family, one of the most unwaveringly Catholic noble houses in England. In 1667 Henry Howard, the sixth Duke of Norfolk and also the son of the twenty-second Earl of Arundel, gave his library, including this incunabulum to the Royal Society in London, of which he was a member. The noted diarist Samuel Pepys described this donation as a "noble gift."1 Ironically, Howard and all other Catholics were at about the same time disbarred form sitting in Parliament because of their religion.

In 1681 William Perry, the first "Library Keeper" of the Royal Society, stamped the books of the Norfolk donation.2 The copy in The Gonzaga Collection clearly bears the stamp on the verso of folio 2: "Soc. Reg. Lond. / ex dono HENR. HOWARD / Norfolciensis." The number 720 on the front of this folio in the upper right may be part of the Royal Society's markings as well.

fol. 2v, 1484 Roman Missal

1681 book stamp of Royal Society, in 1484 Missalfol. 2, 1484 Roman Missal

Later Henry E. Huntington, founder of the famous Huntington Library in California, acquired the volume. This is attested by the "H.E.H." book stamp inside the back cover.


This book was presented to Mount St. Michael's Library near Spokane on May 6, 1962, by Mrs. Charlotte Sanderson, the widow of Dr. Steven Sanderson, as recorded in a typed record on the library's letterhead. Possibly that record should have identified the prior owner as "Stevens Sanderson," for that is the name on the bookplate on the 1521 Dominican Missal, which evidently was also donated.

Catherine Brown Tkacz, Ph.D.

1. Linda Levy Peck, "Uncovering the Arundel Library at the Royal Society: Changing Meanings of Science and the Fate of the Norfolk Donation," Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 52.1 (1998): 3-24, at p. 4.

2. Peck, "Arundel Library," p. 6.