Italian Festival Prayer Book
Gaster bought this manuscript in Milan during his honeymoon in 1890 – testimony to his tireless pursuit of manuscripts. It is an incomplete copy of a Festival Prayer Book (Maḥzor) written in Italy in the 14th or 15th century and contains the rite of the Jewish community in Rome. The manuscript has been badly water-damaged, probably during the Blitz. Stored in a basement in London, Gaster’s manuscripts were doused in water when the fire brigade put out a fire in a nearby building. This damage vividly illustrates the dangers manuscripts face over their long lives. It leaves libraries with a dilemma: is the manuscript important enough to use scarce resources to try to repair the damage?