A temporary ban on selling a £1.6m East Anglian medieval manuscript to a buyer from abroad may save it for the nation.
The Macclesfield Psalter was discovered earlier this year
The 14th century Macclesfield Psalter, found in a private collection from Oxfordshire, is considered one of the most important of its kind.
It was bought in June by the Getty Museum of Los Angeles for £1,685,000.
Now Arts Minister Estelle Morris has deferred its export for three months to give British bidders a chance to raise the money to buy it.
The 225-page illuminated manuscript, previously unknown to scholars, was unearthed earlier this year when a family dispute forced the Earl of Macclesfield to auction off the contents of a library at Shirburn Castle, his seat in Oxfordshire.
Ms Morris acted following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art.
The manuscript is thought to have been made in Norfolk
The committee recommended every possible effort should be made to keep it in this country.
The 170x108mm illuminated manuscript was produced in East Anglia, probably at Gorleston in Norfolk, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge could be its future home if sufficient funds are raised.
It contains 14 miniatures of religious scenes, chiefly from the life of King David.
The miniatures also depict the patron saints of Suffolk and Gorleston Church.
It is believed to come from the same artist as the Gorleston Psalter, which is housed in the British Museum.
Export has been deferred until 10 November with the possibility of an extension until after 10 February 2005.