Posts Tagged ‘manuscripts’

Since it’s finally starting to act like spring (56 degrees yesterday!), I went into the city with M. as part of the “rediscovering a life outside of library school” series. Both having student IDs, we took advantage of the Village East Cinema’s $7 student Tuesday deal and saw The Secret of Kells, an animated movie about the illuminated manuscript called the Book of Kells.

Brendan and Aisling in the forest

The movie is utterly delightful – it might be a little frightening for young children at parts, but certainly doesn’t lose any enjoyment for adults. It’s a very lush movie – the music is well done and the visuals are worth finding a theater that has it.

While waiting for the movie, we stopped over at Artichoke, which only sells a few kinds of pizza but all wonderful. I had a slice of the eponymous pizza (which was the size of 3 slices), and M. had the sicilian, also delicious but smaller.

Since M. was finished long before me and the weather was so nice, we wandered next door to Led Zeppole, also run by the same guys, to get 3 piping hot zeppoles. I wanted to pick up some snacks for tomorrow, so we ventured over to Momofuku’s Milk Bar where I tried some of the cereal milk soft serve and snagged a compost cookie and a really buttery, delicious blueberry cream cookie. The cookies (and especially pies) are a little pricey, but they do have $0.85 day old cookies which (in my opinion) are just as good!


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Probably not going to be a reality show at any point, but there are a lot of Really Big Manuscripts out there which one normally doesn’t get to see. One notorious breed of super huge manuscripts are what my coworker refers to as “Filzas,” or large books of Italian accounts and legal documents from the Renaissance. She works on the majority in our collection, which are Italian, but sometimes Latin ones pop up and then I get put to work. Here’s one from the Gondi, Medici, and Machiavelli families:

Gondi family Filza of huge proportions

Gondi and Machiavelli family Filza of huge proportions

To show an idea of the scale, I used an Official Measurement Tool:

Chapstick vs. Machiavelli

Chapstick vs. Machiavelli

While most of this was just a collection of wills, inheritances, and family accounts, one page had a decoration by a bored scribe on it:

Machiavelli face

Machiavelli face

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One of my projects this summer was to examine some “hybrid books” (a printed book with some manuscript – handwritten – sections) and describe the manuscript portions. Most/all of these can’t even be found in any kind of online catalog, only in the card catalog in the Rare Book room, and even they will only make passing mention of the manuscripts within the hybrid books.

The first one I dealt with was especially interesting – the printed book was the Speculum Perfectionis by Henricius de Herpf (1524), but bound around it was a collection of poetry by Denis Faucher (Dionysius Faucherius) from ca. 1530-50. Here’s what makes this manuscript more interesting than an ordinary manuscript (click for larger versions):

Vigilance in Virtue

Vigilance in Virtue

And two pages later….

Inevitability of Death

Inevitability of Death

Fun stuff! Here are some more pictures from these hybrid books, with descriptions in the individual pages:

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Currently cataloging an Estonian manuscript from 1532. It’s a confirmation by Pope Clement VII of a bishop of Oesel (which has various spellings, it seems). The manuscript itself is pretty ordinary, just going through normal bureaucracy (with one mention of the “rebelles” – Protestants).

What’s fantastic about this is a later annotation in another hand:

Clemens inferni dei providentia episcopus Romanus cerberus cerberorum diaboli suis membris antrichristianis salutem apostolicam benedictionem. / Unum breve conformativum episcopale. Diaboliense volebam dicere apostolicum.

This translates roughly to:

Clement, Bishop of Rome by the providence of the Infernal God, Cerberus of the cerberi of Satan by their own antichristian members, let me salute you an apostolic benediction. / One brief episcopal confirmation. I was wishing to call you the Apostolic Satan.

Perhaps the author of the note just assumed that Pope Clement VII was, in this case, Antipope Clement VII? Easy enough mistake to make when you’re talking about a Pope named Clement, I suppose…?

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The Top Vices

Right now I’m working on a 15th-century manuscript of a 13th-century book by Guilelmus Peraldus, called Summa Vitiis (it seems to have other names like the Summa vitiorum, summa vitiis et virtutibus, etc).

Interestingly enough, this book on vice (anti-vice; Peraldus was a Dominican monk!) was a direct inspiration (to the point of being able to find some lists translated nearly verbatim) for parts of Chaucer’s The Parson’s Tale within The Canterbury Tales. Very nifty!

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I’m currently working on a 17th century manuscript of Latin epigrams and poetry. The author is unknown, but the paleography is lovely AND legible (an unusual treat!). Much of the poems focus on Thomas Aquinas (and God and various saints, but mostly ol’ Tommy here).

Probably the best part of this is the wordplay that goes on in these poems. Here’s an example:

Terrarum orbem collustrat sapientia Thoma,
Hac simul in templo mansit, & ipsa manet.
Omnibus in scriptis, ac in virtutibus almis,
Multum gesta micant, & sua fama volat.
Angelus est pulcher Thomas probitate decora,
Sol & in axe soli, sol & in orbe poli.

They also make an anagram, in which “Thomas de Aquinas” becomes “Quid amo? Honesta.”

Here’s an “epigramma serpentinum” about our friend Thomas (indentations and underlining original to the poem):

Doctor hic Angelicus libris celebratum in istis,
Versibus & colitum Doctor hic Angelicus.
Plausibus assiduis semper vos tollite Thomam,
Dignus enim Thomas plausibus assiduis.
Iam tua facta volant magnas in orbe per urbes,
Applaudunt Homines, iam tua facta volant.
Sit tibi laus, et honos tibi dentur nomina plausus,
Ingentes cultus, sit tibi laus, & honos.

There’s also an “epigram aequidicum,” which just seems to be alliterative (if you speak Latin and therefore v’s and u’s are interchangeable. I’ll keep it that way here for the effect):

Vmani Vitat Vini Vincentius Vicus:
Vocibus Vltorem, Varcinatur Vbi.

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Apparently, there’s a whole slew of other Drexel interns at my library, and various members of the library staff here been hosting a small set of lectures for us on what they do in the different sections of the library. Today I got to hear about Electronic Acquisitions, and learn some of the nitty-gritty about ordering and maintaining an incredibly large set of databases and e-journals (also that EBSCO costs a cool few mil!).

It wasn’t something I necessarily thought about before – how do the resources trickle down from EBSCO to the publishers? How exactly will the institution gain access? Also, that licensing agreements should definitely be read over and, if you’re a large institution, can be worked on until a mutually agreeable individual contract can be produced. Interesting stuff, although I’m still finding that I enjoy reference work and cataloging more on the whole…

On a totally different note, here’s a recommendation for you all!

There’s a wonderful glossary of useful rare book & manuscript terms over at the British Library. It doesn’t have everything, but it does contain quite a bit, and tends to include illustrations using real manuscript pictures, which is incredibly handy!

Check it out!

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