Árni Magnússon’s rearrangement of paper manuscripts

Repository for PhD project files by Beeke Stegmann

AM 536 4to
AM 536 4to (1651-1700, Iceland)
Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, Reykjavík
1. (1r-41r) Mágus saga jarls Icelandic Sagan af Maguse Jarle og þeim Amunda Sonum Note: Longer version, including the þættir and genealogical material at the end. Fol. 41v is blank.
ii, 41, ii195 mm x 155 mm
The watermark in the main part of the manuscript is a medium sized foolscap in a collar with seven bells.
In the last part, there are a lily and a heart-like watermark.
Some details are:
  • Fol. 1: foolscap (bottom)
  • Fol. 2: "blank"
  • Fol. 3: foolscap (top)
  • Fol. 4: "blank"
  • Fol. 5: "blank"
  • Fol. 6: foolscap (bottom)
  • Fol. 7: "blank"
  • Fol. 8: foolscap (top)
  • Fol. 33: ? [thinner paper]
  • Fol. 34: "blank" [thicker paper]
  • Fol. 35: heart (bottom) [thinner paper]
  • Fol. 36: lily (top)
  • Fol. 37: lily (bottom)
  • Fol. 38: "blank" [thinner paper]
  • Fol. 39: "blank" [thinner paper]
  • Fol. 40: heart (top) [thinner paper]
  • Fol. 41: "blank" [thicker paper]

There is later pagination in brown ink in the top outer corners (1-81).
There are six quires:
  • Quire I: fols. 1-8 (1+8, 2+7, 3+6, 4+5) (4 bifolia)
  • Quire II: fols. 9-16 (9+16, 10+15, 11+14, 12+13 (4 bifolia)
  • Quire III: fols. 17-24 (17+24, 18+23, 19+22, 20+21) (4 bifolia)
  • Quire IV: fols. 25-32 (25+32, 26+31, 27+30, 28+29) (4 bifolia)
  • Quire V: fols. 33-41 (33, 34+41, 35+40, 36+37, 38+39) (1 singleton, 3 bifolia, one inserted bifolium) Note: The bifolium 36+37 is inserted in between the second and third bifolium of the quire. The inner edge of the folded bifolium is bent around the innermost quire, so it can be sewn with the quire, even though it is not in the centre of the quire. Fol. 33 is a singleton, possibly from the beginning. It may have been attached to the previous gathering at some point.
There are no quire signatures.There are catchwords on every page.
  • Most leaves are somewhat dirty from stains (especially in the corners and front margins).
  • There are some characterisic stains on fol. 41v which are mirrored by stains on fol. 1r of AM 585 b 4to (not the stain on the top edge, though).
  • Fol. 1r is darker and dirtier than the other pages.
  • The edges are darker than the rest of the pages.
  • The outer corner of some leaves is slightly damaged.
The text is written in one column. 155-175 mm x 125 mm27-2913-15Note: There are running titles in the first part before the genealogical material starts.
Jón Þórðarson Mixed Sole
Info: The same scribe wrote AM 345 4to etc. He used mostly a hybrid script between chancery and kurrent, which sometimes switches into clear and upright chancery. The catchwords are usually written in kurrent script (except for fol. 36v).
  • Initial: There are extraordinary initials, e.g. fols. 1r, 23v. The initials span ca. 10 lines of text and are decorated with intricate floral ornaments and leaves.
  • Initial: Other initials are smaller (2-3 lines), but nevertheless nicely decorated. Except for floral ornaments and leaves, there are bearded faces in the letters "Þ" and "N".
  • Illustration: In the bottom margin of fol. 25r, there is a drawing in ink. It depicts a man with a hat and a mustache.
  • Paratext: The catchwords are decorated with varying squiggles.
  • There are a few corrections and additions in the margins (added by the scribe).
  • On fol. 3v, a little more than one line, which the scribe marked as deleted, is additionally crossed out in red, possibly by someone else.
  • In the bottom margin of fol. 1r, the words
    "Ion Halldorsson med eigin hendi"
    were added. The same hand has written on fol. 23r:
    "Hier kiemur konur[!]"
  • A different hand, which can be identified as Jón Jónsson, son of the scribe Jón Þórðarson, (see AM 345 4to, 29v), has added a colophon
    "Anno 1700 Jon Þorðarson Med eegin hendi"
    to fol. 41r. Note: He has also added a colophon in his father's name in AM 585 c 4to on fol. 19r.
  • Below the added colophon, a different hand has written
    "Halldor Joonsson"

The current binding is a half binding with parchment on the spine and brown marbled paper on the boards. There are parchment strips laced through at the spine fold in the manner which is typical for bindings from Árni Magnússon's time. Where the parchment from the spine extends onto the boards, it shows traces of rubbed-off ink from writing and a green initial. The traces witness that the boards of the manuscript used to be covered in reused parchment leaves. Kålund describes them as leaves from a Latin ecclesiastical manuscript containing musical notation (Kålund 1889-1894, 1: 681). The leaves from the boards were taken off and replaced with the marbled paper under Kristian Kålund. They are now part of AM Access. 7 (Hs 18 and Hs 44).
An AM-slip (158 mm x 132 mm) in front of the manuscript reads in the hand of Árni Magnússon:
"Magus saga. ur bök er eg feck af Markuse Bergssyne, og tok i sundur. Er fïn."
The codicological unit was written in Iceland by Jón Þórðarson. According to the colophon in the other parts of the original manuscript, it was written in the second half of the seventeenth century.
Jón Jónsson inherited the manuscript, of which this is was part, after his father Jón Þórðarson. In 1710, Markús Bergsson gave the larger manuscript to Árni Magnússon, who rearranged the parts. It is not known how the manuscript came to Markús Bergsson, but in his notes, Árni Magnússon mentions that Sigmundur Sæmundsson is said to have been a previous owner (AM 435 a 4to, 82r).

Former Physical Context:
  • When Árni Magnússon acquired the codicological unit it was part of Ms35.

Last update: 2015.
Please note: Bibliographical references are abbreviated. For complete references please contact the editor.
Den Arnamagnæanske Samling
Nordisk Forskningsinstitut
Københavns Universitet
Njalsgade 136
2300 København S
Nordisk Forskningsinstitut
Københavns Universitet
Njalsgade 136
2300 København S
Tel. +45 35 32 85 00