Wednesday, 24 August 2016

What does the "e" refer to?

Looking at leaves and cuttings recently at the V&A Museum I looked again at one I had not seen in person for more than a decade:

The large initial includes fairly distinctive decoration and a human face:
while the stag in the lower margin is very closely based on an engraving by the Master of the Playing Cards:
but I had forgotten that it has a gold letter "e" between its antlers:

The letter was mentioned in the 1923 catalogue:
but is not mentioned in the V&A's online description here, where the cutting is attributed to the Middle Rhine, c.1460, perhaps on account of the fact that the Master of the Playing Cards is associated with Mainz through the decoration of the Giant Bible of Mainz and at least one copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

In case it is of any help, here are two other leaves from the same manuscript, also at the V&A:

Can anyone explain the significance of the initial "e" between the stag's antlers?


  1. Are you sure that is either an "e" or a "c"? Looks like there is gold chipped off.

  2. I can't imagine what else it could be, but I'm open to suggestions ...

  3. It's just that it occupies such a peculiar space in the area between the antlers; rather cramped and awkward. Is it the same kind of gold that is on the chain and the collar?


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