Manuscript on paper. Ghent?: After 14 January 1612.
An early manuscript iteration of the costumen of Ghent, by an unknown scribe. The homologated customary law of the city has been printed several times. The original edition was published in 1564 by Henric van den Keere, at the expense of the city of Ghent, by virtue of the privileges granted to the aldermen of the benches by the privy council on 4 January 1563, and by the council of Brabant on 22 January 1563. This first printed edition was a quarto of 222 pages. When van den Keere's privilege expired, the costumen was reprinted in 1575 by Gheeraert van Salensen, in 1580 by Jan Salensen, and in 1617 by Jan van den Steene, all in quarto. Our book appears to be a manuscript copy of the 1580 edition, with additions and emendations to the costumen up to 14 January 1612, and so was likely produced shortly after this date. The watermarks in the paper (evident only in the blue sheets), are not recorded, though appear to be early 17th-century in character, as does the paleography. Early manuscript copies of the costumen of Ghent are uncommon in institutional collections. An interesting work, complete and in entirely original and unsophisticated condition, worth study by both students of Flemish customary law and scholars of early modern Belgian manuscript transmission.
Quarto, 195 x 165 x 45 mm et infra (binding), 194 x 164 x 28 mm (text block); 99 ff, 1-184, 192, 20-264 (f 11 forms the pastedown, f 12 blank excepting custodial signature, ff 261 and 262 form the rear pastedowns, paginated 1-199 (p. 164 duplicated), no visible watermarks, excepting gatherings 20 and 21, which are of pale blue paper and bear unidentified marks with initials C. B. surmounted with a crown, and a shield surmounted with the letter H, justification maximized except gutter margins of approximately 2 cm, no catchwords, guidelines, or guide-folds, manuscript in a rather untidy hand, a single scribe using gallotannic ink. Binding of contemporary limp vellum with text block sewn on three cords and laced into thin pasteboard, four calfskin ties (one intact, two broken, one missing), unlettered, laceration across upper board, vellum contracted and boards slightly bowed outward, text block edges stained vermilion. Interior: Leaves toned, occasional tears and ink stains, soiling passim.
Early 19th-century custodial signature to recto of first free end and to title of Seraphina de Bruycker; this copy evidently sold Henri Godts, 8 October 2013, lot 251.
Gheldolf, A. E., Coutumes des pays et comte de Flandre. Vol. 1, Ghent, Brussels, Gobbaerts, 1868, pp v-vi.