Maggs Bros. Ltd., a London Antiquarian bookselling firm established in 1853, recently made a rather sensational find: a manuscript breviary belonging to one Leonardus Haslinger, a parish priest resident at Thalheim bei Wells in the Traun Valley of Upper Austria, written in the 1450 and 1460s, which contains on the last pages, following the devotional text, a couple of pages listing artificial fly dressings, recipes for bait, and other fishing instructions.
The Haslinger Breviary fly patterns predates the patterns listed in both the Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle (1496) and the Tegernseer Angel- und Fishbucklein (1500), the two earliest sources of artificial fly patters post Classical Antiquity, which featured Claudius Aelian‘s description of the use of an artificial called the Hippouros on a trout stream in Macedonia.
This important item was scheduled to be offered for sale at the shortly-upcoming New York Antiquarian Book Fair for $185,000, but it was snapped up in advance of the event by an as-yet-undisclosed institutional library.
In consolation to the public, the Haslinger Breviary was exhibited yesterday at a special meeting of the Anglersâ€™ Club of New York for those willing to pay an entrance fee of $75.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing will be publishing a translation by Richard Hoffman in the Spring issue of American Fly Fisher.