The Gould Hours
Catholic Church, The Gould Hours, ca. 1460.

Religious Practice stimulated the making of many books. These examples concern Christian devotion in medieval and early modern Europe, both for public ritual and for private prayer. The book forms are familiar (missals, choir books, prayer books) but the religious print secreted inside a messenger’s box and the wall calendar that ordered the Christian year 1511 remind us that printing was often in the service of religious practice, and sometimes essential to it.


A book of hours is used by followers of the Western Christian tradition to pray at specified times of day. The unique colors and quality of this book’s illuminations indicate that it was decorated by little-known artist, Marc Coussin. [Essay 118]

Marc Coussin
The Gould Hours
Valenciennes, France, c. 1460
Joint gift of fourteen donors, 2003
VAULT Case MS 188

<em>Missale Fratrum minorum secondum consuetudinem Romanae Curiae</em>
Catholic Church, Missale Fratrum ..., ca. 1472.

A missal contains texts and instructions for celebrating mass throughout the liturgical year. This Franciscan example illustrates a unique moment in the history of printing: it is a work of both printed and manuscript text, with hand-painted illustrations. [Essay 119]

Missale Fratrum minorum secondum consuetudinem Romanae Curiae [Fran­ciscan missal according to the use of the Roman Court]
Central Italy, c. 1472
Henry Probasco Collection, 1890
Folio Inc. 7428.5

<em>Antiphonarium Basiliense</em>
Catholic Church, Antiphonarium Basiliense, ca. 1488.

Antiphonals contain the chants sung at mass and at the hours of prayer. This choir book’s marginalia, in several hands, indicates that it was used into the nineteenth century. [Essay 105]

Antiphonarium Basiliense [Basel antiphonal]
Basel: Michael Wennsler, c. 1488
Gift of Dr. Emil Massa, 1996
VAULT oversize Inc. 7517.5

Box with a woodcut of the Virgin of the Rosary
Box with a woodcut of the Virgin of the Rosary, ca. 1498.

This box was probably designed to hold prayer books. The image on the inner cover shows the Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon, surrounded by rosary beads. [Essay 57]

La Vierge du Rosaire [The virgin of the rosary]
Paris, c. 1490
Wing Fund, with the assistance of the Florence Gould Foundation, 1990
VAULT Inc. 52.5

<em>Coniunctiones, oppositiones &amp; quadraturae luminum...</em>
Franciscus de Diodatis, Coniunctiones, ..., 1511.

This astrological wall calendar for 1511, the only known copy, gave contemporaries helpful information for “Phases of the Moon,” “Movable Feast Days,” “Lucky Days,” and “Unlucky Days.” The Gothic script heading proclaims “Venus is Mistress of the Year” but the woodcut depicts Jupiter. [Essay 94]

Francisco de Diodati da Lucca
Coniunctiones, oppositiones & quadraturae luminum . . .
[Astrological calendar]
Bologna, 1510
Wing Fund, 1956
Wing oversize ZP 5351 .11

Mohawk Prayer Book
Mohawk Prayer Book, 1750-1752.

François Picquet was a French Sulpician missionary to the Mohawks. His prayer book, containing litanies and hymns, was written by him or one of his secretaries in French and Mohawk. [Essay 108]

François Picquet
Mohawk Prayer Book
New York, c. 1750
Ruggles Fund, 1991
VAULT Ruggles 393