UK buyer wanted for Elizabeth I roundels

The nine parchment cockades attached. Two depict agate jewelry showing St George and the Dragon in the Garter and a cameo of Queen Elizabeth I. Seven of the roundels feature texts in Latin and French on the properties of agate.

Worth £9,840, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) issued the block with a December 1 deadline for an institution to pledge to raise funds.

Archbishop Matthew Parker (1504-1575) gave the manuscript, consisting of nine joined roundels that would probably have been folded and embedded in a now lost gold saltcellar, to Queen Elizabeth I in the early 1550s.

The use of shell gold suggests that the manuscript was offered with the intention of impressing the queen.

The decision to reject the application for an export license follows the advice of the Review Committee for the Export of Works of Art and Property of Cultural Interest.

The committee agreed that the manuscript had enormous research value, particularly in relation to Archbishop Matthew Parker’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth I.

The committee also said that the literary allusions on the roundels further suggested Matthew Parker’s engagement with classical humanist culture which was not generally associated with the clergy and would lead to further study.

Committee member Peter Barber added: “These evocative, obscurely worded and miraculously preserved roundels take us back to the politics and culture of power at the heart of the court of Elizabeth I.

It is my fervent hope that the roundels will remain in this country where outstanding collections and libraries – notably that of Archbishop Parker himself – would allow their many remaining mysteries to be investigated and explained.

The committee made its recommendation on the grounds that the departure of the manuscript from the United Kingdom would be a misfortune because of its exceptional importance to the study of Matthew Parker and the culture of gifts in the Elizabethan era.

The provenance of the manuscript is believed to be from John Sharp, Archbishop of York (1645-1714) then by family descent from Thomas Barwick Lloyd Baker (1807-86) and again by family descent until they are sold at Sotheby’s Treasures sale in December 2021 for a hammer price of £7,500 (£9,450 including fees).

The recommended price to purchase the joint cockade manuscript is £9,450 (plus £390 VAT which may be reclaimed by an eligible institution).

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