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A Book of Hours, originating from Amiens, France, ca. 1480, is now in the collection of the Pierpont Morgan Museum [1].

The first snail is encountered on folio 020r, of which the descriptive text is “Virgin Mary and Christ Child — Virgin Mary, nimbed, seated on canopied throne with carved statues, holds in her lap Christ Child, with crossed nimbus, extending both hands toward donor, with hat hanging down his back and purse at waist, kneeling with joined hands raised. Scene in room with landscape with distant city visible through arched doorway at right.
Initial O inhabited by bird, possibly mourning dove or pigeon.
Margins with floreate and vinescroll ornament, inhabited by snail, hawk, and fantastic animal”.



The snail is a dextral specimen, not accurately drawn after nature with the aperture crenate; the animal’s head is pointed, with an eye-spot and a short, curled tentacles (?). Overall it has a glum look.

The next one is on folio 033v, described as “Virgin Mary: Visitation — Virgin Mary, with rayed nimbus, is embraced by Elizabeth, with rayed nimbus, wearing wimpled veil. Both stand on path before wattle wall, behind which stands Zacharias (?), with cane or crutch in left hand. In background are castle-like houses and lake, with distant mountain.
Initial D inhabited by half-figure of woman, wearing turban-like headdress, holding scroll with illegible (damaged) inscription.
Margins with floreate and vinescroll ornament in diagonal bands, inhabited by moth; monkey (?), wearing crown (?), holding spear (?) and seated on snail shell; and bird”.



The shell is dextral and seen from the top side. On closer examination the monkey “spear (?)” looks to me like a bishop’s staff.


Folio 103r is described as follows “Adrian of Nicomedia: Scene, Martyrdom — Adrian, nimbed, wearing short loin cloth, lays across anvil, with his left arm severed. His hand lays on the floor. Flanking Adrian are two tormentors, including one wearing helmet, both with swords sheathed at their waists and holding hammers raised in both hands. Emperor Maximianus I, crowned, wearing ermine-collared mantle, holding scepter in right hand, witnesses martyrdom from behind low wall.
Margins with floreate and vinescroll ornament, inhabited by bird and snail”.



The snail is shown here is ‘2D squashed’ with the shell seen from the top (dextrally coiled) and the animal from the side (undulating and humanised).

Finally, folio 115r has the following description “Two scenes in continuous narrative:
1) Barbara of Nicomedia: Scene, Martyrdom — Dioscorus (?), crowned, wearing ermine-trimmed garment, stands with sword raised in right hand behind Barbara, nimbed, kneeling with joined hands raised.
2) Dioscorus of Nicomedia: Scene, Death (?) — Dioscorus (?), wearing ermine-trimmed garment, falls to ground flanked by two other men, all struck with stones falling from sky. Behind Dioscorus are devils (?).
Margins with floreate and vinescroll ornament in lozenge patterns, inhabited by bird and hybrid man, with human head emerging from snail shell”.



The malacomorph hybrid emerges from a sinistral shell and looks to me like a bearded devil.

This manuscript seems very apt for Chistmas 🙂

[1] PMM, inv. Ms. M.198, 126 ff. http://corsair.morganlibrary.org/msdescr/BBM0198.htm.