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Writing Religion: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts Presented By Special Collections & Archives

May 12, 2022

Collage of manuscript images. Text on a white label reads, “Writing Religion Exhibit - On Display May 2-June 10 in Honnold 2.”

Special Collections at The Claremont Colleges Library presents a special late spring exhibit, “Writing Religion: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at The Claremont Colleges Library.” The exhibit showcases the splendor of the Egerton Crispin collection with its unique devotional books and manuscripts while exploring the linguistic, cultural and textual complexities of religious practices and religiosity of the late antique and medieval period. This exhibit of extraordinary objects was curated by affiliated faculty of Late Antique and Medieval Studies (LAMS), an intercollegiate program devoted to exploring the rich cultural and linguistic contexts of the greater Mediterranean, Near Eastern and European worlds of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

The Crispin Collection of exquisite examples of early bookmaking and fine binding was given to The Claremont Colleges Library by Dr. Egerton Crispin during the 1950s and early 1960s. Dr. Crispin was born in 1877 in Salem County, New Jersey. He received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, and during World War I served in the Navy Medical Corps. He died in July 1963, at the age of 85.

The collection he donated includes nearly fifty Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts — many of which are in leather gilt-tooled slip cases — and is comprised of 12th century sermons, 13th century Bibles, 14th and 15th century books of hours, missals, psalters and antiphonals. These materials are cataloged in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Claremont Libraries (University of California Press, 1986). 17th century patents of nobility, early 18th century Slavonic manuscripts and 19th century Turkish, Persian and West African Qur’ans complete the manuscript holdings. Printed books include 53 incunabula and 226 fine editions of classics, as well as related reference books. Among the examples of fine printing are a 1541 Cranmer’s Bible, a first edition, second issue King James Bible, and a fourth folio Shakespeare.

You can explore the Crispin manuscript collection by visiting the spring exhibit in person or online by browsing the Crispin collection in Library Search and consulting Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Claremont Libraries.

Exhibit open to current Claremont Colleges students, faculty and staff and community card holders. General members of the public, regardless of their card status, can also visit the exhibit by appointment by scheduling your exhibition viewing appointment here.

Exhibit Details
North Lobby, The Claremont Colleges Library
May 2, 2022 – June 10, 2022
Exhibit on view Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, please contact Special Collections.

View and/or download the Writing Religion exhibit flyer.