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"How to Keep Your Cat, c. 1470"

If you have a good cat and you don't want to lose it, you must rub its nose and four legs with butter for three days, and it will never leave the house. [more inside]
posted by Quietgal on Sep 13, 2014 - 63 comments

These manuscripts ain't gonna illuminate themselves

Model books, examples for medieval scribes to copy from and adapt in their work, are like illuminated manuscripts in concentrated form. A post from medieval historian Erik Kwakkel's excellent new blog, a longform complement to his excellent Tumblr (previously).
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 12, 2014 - 3 comments

The Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App

The DMMapp (Digitized Medieval Manuscripts App) is a website that links to more than 300 libraries in the world. Each one of these contains medieval manuscripts that can be browsed for free. The DMMapp is a product of Sexy Codicology, an independent project focused on medieval illuminated manuscripts and social media. It maintains a great blog about medieval manuscripts, especially those that are available online.
posted by jedicus on Aug 5, 2014 - 6 comments

It was late June

On 24 June 1914, a young man caught the 10.20 train from London to Malvern. At around 12.45 the train stopped at a small country station in Gloucestershire. And what happened then? Well .. nothing much. The station closed in 1966, but this afternoon a special train will be stopping there, unwontedly, to mark the centenary of one of the best-loved poems in the English language. [more inside]
posted by verstegan on Jun 24, 2014 - 19 comments

Emily Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts

The Emily Dickinson Archive is a collection of high resolution digital images of Emily Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts. Here are, for instance, Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Tell the Truth but Tell It Slant, I Dwell in Possibility, They Shut Me Up in Prose and I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died. The whole collection is fully searchable and the images include the text of the poems as they were written down by Dickinson. The archive is a project of Harvard's Houghton Library but many other institutions provided manuscripts. Perhaps the best place to start is to simply browse the poems by title.
posted by Kattullus on May 15, 2014 - 10 comments

Discovering Literature through the collections of the British Library

The British Library today unveiled a major addition to its website: Discovering Literature, a portal to digitized collections and supporting material. The first installment, Romantics and Victorians, includes work from Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, and Blake, and forthcoming modules will expand coverage of the site to encompass everything from Beowulf to the present day.
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 15, 2014 - 6 comments

Mali's Ancient Manuscripts

Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West ­Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Apr 21, 2014 - 12 comments

The Vatican archives are being digitized.

The Vatican is digitizing its massive trove of ancient documents to make them available to the world for free online. [more inside]
posted by Jacob Knitig on Mar 23, 2014 - 28 comments

Scholarly debate about the significance of snail combat

"As anyone who is familiar with 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts can attest, images of armed knights fighting snails are common, especially in marginalia. But the ubiquity of these depictions doesn’t make them any less strange, and we had a long discussion about what such pictures might mean."
posted by exogenous on Sep 27, 2013 - 90 comments

Things get a little crazy in the scriptorium after compline

Skeleton doodles, crappy D's, cat hats, embroidered book repair, dentistry, and a duck going queck, from the tumblr of Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian at Leiden University.
posted by theodolite on Jul 5, 2013 - 21 comments

A life in letters

Bess of Hardwick's Letters brings together the correspondence of one of the most powerful women of the Elizabethan era, the builder of one of England's greatest houses and the founder of one of its greatest political dynasties. As well as telling the story of Bess's life, it offers an introduction to early modern letters and a guide to reading early modern handwriting.
posted by verstegan on May 13, 2013 - 9 comments

a great collection of medieval illustration

Weird, funny, surreal, fun, silly, bawdy, macabre, cool and strangely beautiful. The Discarded Image is a Tumblr collection of Medieval illustrations gleaned from various illuminated manuscripts, bestiaries, books describing the cosmology of the Middle Ages, ordered and maintained by a celestial hierarchy. The Discarded Image is also the name of CS Lewis' last book, about the fascinating Medieval mindset and world picture. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Apr 13, 2013 - 23 comments

Cats:

walking on your shit... since the 15th century. (via)
posted by Namlit on Feb 18, 2013 - 32 comments

Hwæt!

In 1731, a fire broke out in Ashburnham House, where the greatest collection of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, the Cottonian Library, was then being stored. Frantically, the trustees raced into the burning library and hurled priceless and unique manuscripts out the windows in order to save them. One of these was the sole manuscript of Beowulf. Today, bearing the charred edges of its brush with extinction, it's been digitized by the British Library, along with a group of other treasures including Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Arundel and the Harley Golden Gospels.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 11, 2013 - 25 comments

Early English Laws

Early English Laws is a project to publish online and in print new editions and translations of all English legal codes, edicts, and treatises produced up to the time of Magna Carta 1215. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Nov 21, 2012 - 7 comments

Leonardo Interactivo

The Royal Spanish Library has put online today an interactive version of Leonardo da Vinci's Madrid Codices I & II. There are transcriptions of the text (in Spanish and Italian, click "T" on the bottom menu), animations of many of the mechanical contraptions (click play button "ver animacion") and the "Indice" in the bottom menu organizes the folios by theme.
posted by Marauding Ennui on Oct 30, 2012 - 3 comments

Dr. Livingstone's diary deciphered

For more than two years, scholars and imaging scientists have been using advanced scanning techniques to recover the mostly illegible contents of an 1871 field diary kept by the British explorer David Livingstone in Africa. Low on paper and ink, the explorer had resorted to writing on newspaper sheets, with ink made from berries, and over time the original document had become almost impossible to read. Now the team has unveiled an online “multispectral critical edition” with images, transcriptions, and relevant notes, making Livingstone’s first-person account accessible again. They’ve also created a “Livingstone Spectral Images Archive” to give anyone who wants it direct access to the images, transcriptions, and metadata the project has created, no strings attached. Almost everything in both the edition and the archive comes with a Creative Commons license that allows the contents to be reused with attribution. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 3, 2012 - 11 comments

5-3-1852: Prince Albert still won't get out of the can

The diaries of Queen Victoria, totaling 47,000 pages and running from the age of 13 until her death, have been digitized. The site will be free to UK users, but open access for the rest of the world only runs through the end of June.
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 24, 2012 - 33 comments

Wanna see some dirty books?

A researcher at St. Andrews University is using a tool called a densitometer to measure which pages in medieval manuscripts are the dirtiest, and therefore the most frequently read. The complete (and well-illustrated) study is available online from the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 24, 2012 - 12 comments

"Everything we do is music."

John Cage Unbound, A Living Archive is a multimedia exhibition created by the New York Public Library documenting their collection of videos, original notes and manuscripts of contemporary American composer and music theorist John Cage (1912-1992). "Cage believed that, following his detailed directions, anyone could make music from any kind of instrument" so the NYPL is asking visitors how they would bring his music to life, by submitting videos of their own interpretations of Cage’s work for possible inclusion in the archive. For more extensive collections of John Cage resources, see: WNYC: A John Cage Web Reliquary and Josh Rosen's fan page. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 17, 2012 - 21 comments

Oh, that old thing

Thanks to a record-breaking £9 million fundraising effort, the British Library has acquired (and fully digitized) the St. Cuthbert Gospel. The manuscript, buried with the eponymous saint in 698 AD, is the oldest European book to survive fully intact. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 16, 2012 - 25 comments

No Symbols Where None Intended

Pages from Beckett's wartime manuscripts - from Watt, written in ink and colored crayons between 1940 and 1945, numbers 945 pages in six notebooks and loose sheets. More from Watt, part of a larger 2006 Samuel Beckett Centenary Exhibition, Fathoms from Anywhere.
posted by madamjujujive on Feb 29, 2012 - 8 comments

Paint It Black

The Morgan Library Black Hours, one of the world's most beautiful and striking illuminated manuscripts, has been digitized in its entirety. Richly decorated in blue and gold on black vellum, it is one of a surviving handful of such manuscripts produced in late 15th century Bruges. (Poorer quality, but still interesting, images of another such work, the Black Hours of Charles the Bold, are also online.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Nov 19, 2011 - 21 comments

You can't tell the players without a scorecard

Signs & Symbols: Decoding Mediaeval & Renaissance Iconography. An online exhibition from the Dunedin Public Library. Does what is implied on the tin, if you have a grounding in the history of tin-decoration.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Nov 13, 2011 - 11 comments

Fortunately, Atlas Shrugged is not one of the choices

Treasures of the Bodleian. Oxford University's Bodleian Library will move into a substantially renovated home in 2015. In preparation, it has put online a selection of highlights from the collection, ranging from papyri to Penguins. You can vote for your favorite treasure, and the top vote-getter will go on display when the library reopens.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Oct 5, 2011 - 8 comments

Bibliotheca Corviniana

The library of King Matthias I of Hungary, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was "the second greatest collection of books in Europe in the Renaissance period, after that of the Vatican." Destroyed following the 15th century Turkish invasion of Hungary (despite the efforts of Matthias' vassal Vlad III the Impaler), a few surviving codices have been digitized by the National Széchényi Library and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. [more inside]
posted by Paragon on Jan 6, 2011 - 7 comments

Mediaeval Arabic Manuscripts in Private Libraries in Mauritania

Ancient books inherited in private family libraries could change our knowledge of late mediaeval arab culture, but most are hidden in private libraries. Gripping article about the unknown treasures that may be lurking in Mauritanian family libraries, considering the little that has already been found, resistance to cataloguing and problematic future if the region continues to be destabilised. How the manuscripts are famous in the muslim world.More on the open libraries and archive efforts. Some years back on bbc i saw an explorer track down some ancient ethiopian christian manuscripts to an ethiopian monastery, only to be shown some burnt remains from a fire a few months back. What treasures must lurk in this continent, and with digital cameras, how easy to document them without damage or intruding on their owners! Being christians, there are pictures and some history.
posted by maiamaia on Jul 27, 2010 - 13 comments

Behind the Bookcase

In honor of the museum's 50th anniversary, the Anne Frank House has created a virtual tour of the Secret Annex and the rest of the house. The complete manuscript of Anne's diary has also gone on display at the museum for the first time.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 29, 2010 - 18 comments

1837 illustrations of South Indian castes

"Seventy two specimens of castes in India". This illustrated manuscript made in southern India in 1837 consists of 72 full-colour hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India at that time. Search or browse (recommended) all the images, in very good resolution, from Yale's Beinecke Library. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Apr 12, 2010 - 14 comments

The archives are a window into his mind

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas today announced that it has acquired the papers of David Foster Wallace. The collection includes "manuscript materials for Wallace's books, stories and essays; research materials; Wallace's college and graduate school writings; juvenilia, including poems, stories and letters; teaching materials and books." The Center's blog has more details.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 8, 2010 - 25 comments

Eddies in the timestream! And this is his couch?

Timelines: Sources from History is a decade-by-decade visual index to the holdings of the British Library from the 1210s to the present.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 30, 2010 - 12 comments

Demons and Devotion

Visitors to the Morgan Library in New York will have a rare opportunity to view one of the great masterworks of medieval illumination, the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. But if you don't have a chance to visit, all 157 miniatures have been digitized.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 24, 2010 - 24 comments

Unclean slate

An expert in Elizabethan handwriting is attempting to decipher the inscriptions on a 400-year-old slate tablet discovered by archaeologists working at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. Want to take a crack at it yourself? First, you're going to want to take English Handwriting, 1500-1700: An Online Course. Then, keep your skills sharp with a daily dose of Early Modern Paleography. (This week's images will be well known to a certain MeFite.)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 14, 2010 - 49 comments

Alleyn and company

The papers of Edward Alleyn, the Elizabethan actor-manager, are now available online in a digital edition. Most of what we know about the London theatre in the age of Shakespeare comes from this archive; highlights include the only surviving example of a 'part' or script written out for an actor in an Elizabethan play (image) and the contract for building the Fortune playhouse in 1600, just a year after the building of the Globe. Sadly, the archive doesn't include any manuscripts relating to Shakespeare, because Alleyn worked for the Admiral's Men, one of the two main theatre companies in London, whereas Shakespeare worked for the competition (the Lord Chamberlain's Men), though that didn't stop the nineteenth-century forger John Payne Collier from faking a few documents of his own to fill the gap.
posted by verstegan on Dec 11, 2009 - 6 comments

Medieval and early modern liturgical books

Graduel à l'usage de Saint-Dié digitizes a French gradual (choir music for the Mass) created in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. For more information about what's what, see the handy definitions offered by the British Library or Celebrating the Liturgy's Books. [more inside]
posted by thomas j wise on May 27, 2009 - 5 comments

Treasures unburied

Libraries' Surprising Special Collections. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 3, 2009 - 44 comments

Where billionaires shop to build their libraries

Jay Walker's Library was just profiled by Wired [via], but they failed to mention where many of those books came from. Big players like Maggs, Simon Finch and the Baumans still compose most of the rare book world. (Heritage is gone but Michael Sharp got four of their employees.) They're all excellent places to shop if you're building an Überlibrary, but, if you're Jay Walker, you start with Phillip J. Pirages. [more inside]
posted by nímwunnan on Oct 8, 2008 - 30 comments

The Prague Bible

The Prague Bible (1489) is a splendid three-volume MS of the Tanakh, once in the possession of Enlightenment luminary Moses Mendelssohn. There are several other beautiful examples of medieval and early modern Hebrew MSS online, including the Illuminated Hebrew Manuscripts collection (New York Public Library), the Illuminated Haggadah Exhibit (Klau University), selections from Moses Maimonides' Moreh Nevukim (Leiden University), and the Prato Haggadah (Jewish Theological Seminary). See also the introduction to the Hebraic Collections at the Library of Congress.
posted by thomas j wise on Jun 7, 2008 - 7 comments

Scans of medieval and renaissance manuscripts

Columbia University's Digital Scriptorium is a database of high quality scans from medieval and renaissance manuscripts. The highlights section alone is breathtaking, but you can search and browse through over 5000 manuscripts and almost 25000 individual images.
posted by Kattullus on May 3, 2008 - 15 comments

Cabinet of Curiosities

Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities features strange and surprising things from the rare book and manuscript collections of the Beinecke Library in Yale, including death masks, the philosophy of origami, the real adventures of Tintin, famous people and their pets, and American transvestite magazines from the 1960s.
posted by verstegan on Apr 11, 2008 - 12 comments

Poland's Cultural Heritage in nifty flash site

"Commonwealth of Diverse Cultures: Poland's Heritage is an international educational exhibition which presents the history of tolerance and cohabitation of various ethnic groups in the territory of Polish-Lithuanian Commowealth and is addressed primarily to foreigners all around the world". This is achieved via a very beautiful flash site.
posted by peacay on Mar 25, 2008 - 11 comments

Gloria in electronica

The University of South Carolina recently completed an ambitious survey of all medieval texts in the state for an exhibit at the university library. All the works were scanned and archived electronically. However, not only can you view the texts online, you can hear the university's chorus sing (MP3) the musical manuscripts. [more inside]
posted by 1f2frfbf on Mar 18, 2008 - 8 comments

The Lost Archive

Ancient manuscripts lost and found, Nazis, academic backstabbing, religious fundamentalism - something for everyone in this story. (And count on Spengler for some controversial thoughts on what it all means)
posted by IndigoJones on Jan 15, 2008 - 20 comments

persian painting

Masterpieces of Persian Painting "The atrocity of raging wars, the fainting of Leili (the beloved) and Majnoun (the lover) and the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) ascension to the celestial sphere while floating in light—all reflect the reality and image of the pure heart of the artists who viewed the world, its Creator and creatures with love." [via]
posted by dhruva on Oct 31, 2006 - 22 comments

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscript Images

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscript Images: Corsair is a well documented online image repository of the Morgan Pierpont Library. There are 58 manuscripts with over 7,000 images ranging from the 9th to the 16th century. Sample image page. Sample search results. Research information.
posted by peacay on Sep 3, 2005 - 8 comments

Benedictine Manuscript Art Photography Repository

The Benedictine Vivarium "In the Benedictine tradition of reverence for human thought and creativity, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library preserves manuscripts, printed books and art at Saint John's University and undertakes photographic projects in regions throughout the world." -- "Nearly half of HMML's holdings derive from libraries in Austria and Germany, but HMML also houses significant collections from Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, England, and Ethiopia. It holds archival materials, and of particular importance are the Archives of the Knights of Malta, housed in the National Library in Valletta, and the Archives of the Roman Inquisition, located at the Cathedral Museum in Mdina."
EXAMPLE PAGES -- Illustrations, Photographs , Paintings/Iconography, Pottery/Sculptures, Artifacts, Manuscripts and more - if this kind of thing interests you, then search around - I've only begun scratching the surface. Nb. See browser setup info at bottom of page in main link. [via]
posted by peacay on Aug 28, 2005 - 9 comments

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library's online collection of digital images - over 90,000 of them. A vast labyrinth of high resolution digital images and photo negatives from thousands of rare books and manuscripts. Search by keyword to access scans sorted by category. Find one you like and click on the call number to bring up all images from that title. Searching for "illustrations" brings up 31 pages of scans from hundreds of titles. Examine 16th century mechanical illustrations by Georg Agricola, two full pages of photo negatives from William Blake's Jerusalem, a collection of artwork demonstrating knightly protocol ("medieval" is another keyword search yielding a bonanza of good stuff), and so much more. The interface leaves something to be desired but the sheer amount of works available for viewing makes it all worth it.
posted by LeeJay on Aug 1, 2005 - 12 comments

Literary Fantastic

The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. The Cornell Institute for Digital Collections presents an online image-bank that "provides a visual resource for the study of the Fantastic or of the supernatural in fiction and in art" from the danse macabre to medical oddities to creatures straight out of Hell (and Heaven). The university's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections has put together a captivating little collection of the marvelous, the mysterious and the magical. You can search through all the images at once or search by book title. (Some images may be slightly NSFW.)
posted by LeeJay on Jul 29, 2005 - 15 comments

Everything is Illuminated

Cambridge Illuminations claims to be the largest exhibition of medieval illuminated manuscripts since 1908. To see all 200 exhibits, you'll have to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge; but 65 of the best, including the sixth-century Gospels of St Augustine and the recently discovered Macclesfield Psalter, can be viewed online.
posted by verstegan on Jul 27, 2005 - 8 comments

Milestone Documents of U.S. History

100 Milestone Documents. High-quality viewable and downloadable documents of American History, from 1776 to 1965. Of course the usual suspects are available, but you can also see items like the Patent for the Cotton Gin (1794) and the Check for the Purchase of Alaska (1868). Also downloadable PDFs, transcripts, and background information on each document. (Warning: flash)
posted by marxchivist on Jun 18, 2005 - 14 comments

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