nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
It's All Incunables All The Time here at the library. Normally I don't complain, but then today I had to catalog a book printed in the late fifteenth century by Parisian bookman Guy Marchant, who loved him his punning devices. We'd been wondering why this one (no. 23) depicted two cobblers with half-completed shoes all over the floor. Turns out it's probably a pun on the rebus at the head of the device ... click the link for the awful details, courtesy of the invaluable M. Harman of the University of Illinois ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
Today's work task: transcribe the text on the parchment ms. leaves used as pastedowns in an old binding. One's from a popular medieval text for medical students, Gilles de Corbeil's De pulsibus -- everything you wanted to know about the human pulse, in verse. The other is from a breviary with some pretty red-and-blue initials, but at this point in my career, if I've seen one ms. leaf from a late medieval breviary with pretty red-and-blue initials, I've seen them all. That is, until I get to the notation for the psalm for the second nocturne of (I think) the feast of the Epiphany:

Iubilate d'o o.t'.p.

Which means "Jubilate Deo omnis terra psalmum" (the first words of Psalm 65), but had me briefly agreeing that yes, we should all praise God for our OTPs ...

My various fandoms have eaten my brain ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
As a rare books cataloger, I know I've seen one too many 17th-century German legal pamphlets when I read
Wie es mit Reparation und Reinigunge der
Steinwege, auch der Karrenführer, und der be=
schmiedeten Karren-Räder halber zu=

and wonder why the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg feels compelled to offer reparations to grand pianos.

What's worse is that I've only been working on these pamphlets since noon. Help me, somebody ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
Kodansha says it has no plans to continue releasing an English translation of Pumpkin Scissors. Argh. Argh, argh, argh, argh, argh. I have the tankoubon, but I can't read them and nobody is bothering to scanlate them. Foo. Oh, well, at least I can look at the pictures and get a vague idea of what's transpiring. And maybe someday I'll have enough time/energy/cash for more Japanese lessons.

In other irritating news, it is hot. Too darn hot. Cole Porter, go home and take your catchy ear-worm with you.

ETA: Well, the day is looking up again: just helped a colleague identify the very scrawly autograph of Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, Yale 1813 (not to be confused with the U.S. Congressman from New York), noting his purchase of a book from one Seth P. Staples (Yale 1797) -- who turns out to have been one of the lawyers to initially represent the Amistad captives, as well as the founder of what eventually became the Yale Law School. Bonus!
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Magadalen)
It's the end of the fiscal year and everyone's trying to max out their budget, which means that on the book truck full of new acquisitions for our fine arts department I have:

a) an early 16th-century Aldine Press edition of Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia di Poliphilo that's worth more than my house;

b) an imperfect early 17th-century edition of Pompilio Totti's guidebook to the ruins of Rome, Ritratto di Roma Antica (the one with the square woodcut vignette of Alma Roma on the title leaf, not the round medallion) that's worth more than I paid for my first car; and

c) an absolutely beautiful 18th-century Japanese manuscript of colored plans of castles in Honshu, compiled, edited and annotated by Yamagata Daini, a philosopher and military historian who ended up on the wrong side of the Tokugawas and got himself executed in 1767. It's actually not very expensive at all, in rare book terms, but still awfully pretty. Sadly, I have neither the language nor the format expertise to catalog it and must hand it off to someone else. Sigh.

Not to mention the little book of photographic views of Tokyo around the end of the Meiji era, including a bicyclist crossing Ginza's main avenue and a view of "Wench Houses, Yoshiwara." Say no more ...

ETA: Also, most of them come wrapped in bubble wrap. My colleagues are very good about ignoring the occasional burst of pop-pop-pop!s from my cubicle.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
From a nineteenth-century playbill advertising a "Comic, Heroic, Operatic, Tragic, Pantomimic, Burlesque, Burletta Spectacular Parody, under the Title of DON GIOVANNI" at the Royal Circus and Surrey Theatre on 1 February 1819 (during the ill-fated tenure of Dibdin as manager):
THE SCENERY (having most of it appeared before) has been (of course) already received with unbounded acclamations of Applause, and will be repeated as often as the Manager can write Pieces to introduce it. The views are intended to represent several Places in and near the city of Seville (in Spain); with (by way of Pictorial Episode) a fine Scene of Blackfriars Bridge, taken in the Circus. There will also be a New Moon, which is expected to be full about the time of Half Price.

The DRESSES are as good as the Proprietor can possibly afford; and The PROPERTIES are of very little use to any but the Owner.
Also, at the end of the cast list it is indicated that THE MARBLE HORSE will be portrayed "BY A REAL PONEY; (except in the 2d Scene of Act II.) when, being made of Wood, it can only be said to live in the Reputation of the Painter." I can't think why Dibdin wasn't more successful; his jokes aren't any worse than those of his contemporaries and he seems to have a proper sense of economy.

Must have at my "the Ember Island Players in the postwar era" story at some point.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
I know I need to take a break when I translate the title Kurtz Viler Historien Hant Büchlein (Strasbourg: Hans Schotten, 1536) as "a little handbook for short vile historians." In my defense, I've been cataloging a lot of pamphlets about the Münster Rebellion, in which radical Anabaptists took over the city and instituted a short-lived communal theocracy, until the ousted Prince-Bishop returned with an army and put a stop to it. (The surviving ringleaders were executed and their bodies hung in cages from a church steeple; the cages evidently can be seen yet today.) Such a polarizing event breeds vile historians -- or at least the sixteenth-century equivalent of yellow journalists.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
Flowers and leaves are frequently pressed in books and then forgotten ... until the books are sold or donated to my institution and I catalog them. By custom, we don't pay much attention to pressed vegetable matter -- not even to note its presence, unless it's in a herbal for exemplary purposes. Still, it did cheer me up to discover five dried four-leaf clovers in a 1735 Irish edition of Miscellaneous Works in Verse and Prose of the Late Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq. today. Hopefully it bodes well for this cataloging project, newly begun in this new year ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
On opening Pierre Belon's Histoire de la Nature des Oyseaux (Paris, 1555) to catalog it, I found that someone had bookmarked the entry with the illustration of the hibou cornu (horned owl) flying at the reader, claws outstretched, beak open, eyes round and piercing. Er, [ profile] kanja177, what was it that your Carmelite spiritual writer was recommending to invoke against these things again?

ETA: I'm not sure what to make of some of these other illustrations. There's the rabbit whose expression is more ho-hum than argh! my vitals! despite the hawk on its back, claws poised to sink into its fur -- not to mention the warty-nosed, warty-tongued man with the fly pulling a string from his mouth (or maybe he's got it on a leash tied to his upper central incisors?), on whose outstretched arm sits a gyrfalcon. What any of this is intended to communicate is opaque to me. The past really is a foreign country ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
Coloring in the odd figure in the illustrations of your 1533 Venetian edition of Virgil's collected works (accuratissime castigata, et in pristinam formam restituta, cum acerrime iudicii virorum commentariis) -- well, hey, the princeps poetarum (not to mention his commentators) can get a bit long-winded when he's hip-deep in an epic simile, and doodling keeps the hand busy while the mind grapples with the text.

Coloring so thoroughly that ink bleeds through the paper and obscures the text of not one but several neighboring leaves might, however, be construed as absence of mind, if not outright vandalism.

Drawing a mustache and beard on Dido merely demonstrates your childishness.

Thank goodness you got bored like everyone else and started skimming after book VI of the Aeneid. Or so I judge from a sudden absence of ink blots.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
From the lavishly illustrated German edition of Vegetius's De re militari, as printed by Hans Knappe in 1511, I give you:
Renaissance scuba gear.

Some days I just love my job to death.

Many thanks to the Munich Digitisation Centre for having the good taste to get this one online. I hope we'll be doing the same at least for the hand-colored plates in our copy.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
Did you know that Scandinavia has some of the prettiest manhole covers in Europe? Are you surprised to learn that Italy's manhole covers are merely functional while Spain's and Germany's burst abound with civic pride? Would you be somewhat disturbed to read that "Netherlands manholes reflect the nature of the country's inhabitants, efficient, tidy but rather dull"? Then this illustrated international survey of manhole covers is for you, my friend. (Brought to the Intarwebs by one of the editors of the Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History, which is how I found it. I'm a rare books cataloger, Jim, not a manhole cover aficionado).
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
I found this pasted to the inside front cover of a venerable copy of Milton's Paradise Regained:

      The Trustees of the New-York Society Library deem it their duty to request all persons interested in the institution to exercise a little care in preventing the Books from getting injured when taken out of the Library. They are frequently blotted, scribbled in, and torn by children, and often soiled by servants bringing them to the Library without an envelope.

      It should also be remembered, that no person has a right to insert any comments, however correct, in the margin, or other parts of a Book, either with a pen or pencil. This practice induces others to disfigure the page with idle and unnecessary remarks.

      According to the By Laws of the Society, any person losing or injuring a Book is liable to make reparation to the full value of the whole set to which the volume may belong.
I have to indulge in a professional smirk here, since yesterday's "idle and unnecessary remarks" are today's "copious annotations in ink and pencil." For example, I'm in the process of finishing work on a record for a late fifteenth-century copy of Bernhard von Breydenbach's Peregrinationes in Terram Sanctam formerly owned by the notable humanist Conrad Celtes. He seems to have been quite interested in Breydenbach's descriptions of military matters (particularly things that go BOOM!) and left marginal marks and notes next to several passages that, er, struck him. He may also be responsible for adding a handwritten chart of the Glagolitic alphabet to the various woodcuts depicting Greek, Coptic, Syrian and Arabic writing systems. Maybe. The book subsequently fell into the hands of the stipendiati of the Lilienburse in Vienna and passed from them to a Franciscan convent before being purchased in 1802 by an Anglophone person whose name has been scratched out, and I'm not enough of a handwriting expert to judge whether someone other than Celtes has been idly doodling in the margins. Some conundrums are best left as an exercise for the reader.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
For my sins, I am currently cataloging translations of Milton's poetry into Hungarian. I am not conversant with Hungarian, so I've been making judicious use of Google's translation engine. Very judicious use. After the first time you enter:
Az Elveszett Paradicsom
and receive in answer:
The Lost Tomatoes
instead of Paradise Lost, you learn to be cautious.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
An off-LJ friend recently reminded me of an incident from my days as a professional medievalist-wannabee, when Usenet was still a going concern and I lurked on the fringes of soc.history.medieval. The group was witty, collegial and learned, so of course it attracted a resident troll, who took up station under its bridge and emerged regularly to make faces and scream oddly capitalized, faux-Latinate abuse at persons whom he took in dislike. This led, on one occasion, to a long, acrimonious and needlessly tendentious argument about the development of draught harness for horses from late antiquity into the Middle Ages. That argument is best forgotten, trust me -- except for the contributions of the late Ellen Pinegar, who conducted the now-famous Cat Hitched to Vacuum Cleaner experiment in order to bring a little evidence-based rigor to what had become a war of assertion. Read more... )
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
I'm still up to my armpits in Milton and likely to be so for the foreseeable future, since my boss tells me that the folks upstairs have filled up two more Big Blue Crates of Doom with items for this collection. I try not to weep till I get home. But at least this last cart-full has included a few pre-1800 imprints, which are almost always more interesting than their post-1800 brethren. Case in point: I discovered the following ms. inscription on the reverse of the plate preceding book II in a 1795 edition of Milton's Paradise Lost (which claims to have been printed in London for A. Law, W. Miller and R. Cater, but was probably pirated at York for Wilson, Spence and Mawman -- arr!):

Ann Chadd died on the 12th day of November and was Interred on the 15th of ye said month wch was on Sunday and was ye first corpse that came up ye new Road wch was made [illegible letter]ye Rector, Mr. P. Leigh.

November 18, 1807
Thos. Moors.
Poor Ann Chadd, immortalized as the first stiff trundled up the new road, presumably to her long home. RIP. There's got to be a story here, but bedoggoned if I can figure out what it is ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
After three days complaining about how much I hate cataloging barely distinguishable nineteenth-century editions of The Complete Poetical Works of John Milton and sighing for some eighteenth-and-earlier-century stuff because it's documented so much more thoroughly, the Fates granted me my desire. You think I'd've learned by now: of the first six pre-1800 copies of Comus to cross my desk, I've managed records for two. The other four have yellow Post-Its headed "PROBLEM" attached, and I've put in an ILL request for yet another Milton bibliography (to keep the three currently sprawled uselessly all over my workspace company, I suspect). And of course my boss is on vacation for the next two weeks, so I can't even spread the misery with a consult. Nnngh. I'm glad it's Friday; I'm going to need a Milton-free day or two to re-psych myself up to this task.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
I'm cataloging Miltoniana, and ran into this encomium by Katharine Tynan in the introduction to the 1908 Everyman's Library edition of Anne Manning's Maiden and Married Life of Mary Powell, Afterwards Mistress Milton:
Miss Manning had a beautiful style -- a style given to her to reconstruct an idyll of old-world sweetness. Limpid as flowing water, with a thought of syllabubs and new-made hay in it, it is a perpetual delight.
Tastes change -- Robert J. Wickenheiser, whose bibliography of the Milton collection at the University of South Carolina has been my vade mecum of late, is less enthusiastic (and hence more coherent):
Printed in seventeenth-century style and a rather simplistic attempt at "ye olde Englishe" with a few references to seventeenth-century politics [to] distinguish Mary Powell's adventures from what must have been both the chief dread -- an unhappy marriage -- and the chief aspiration -- marriage to a famous man -- of many nineteenth-century young ladies.
Well, at least we've got good entries for our copies now, in case anyone wants to have a read and judge for him/herself.

Syllabubs and new-made hay? Oy ...
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
From a lecture by T.S. Eliot on John Milton, read 26 March 1947:
I believe that the scholar and the practitioner in the field of literary criticism should supplement each other's work. The criticism of the practitioner will be all the better, certainly, if he is not wholly destitute of scholarship; and the criticism of the scholar will be all the better if he has some experience of the difficulties of writing verse.
Amen, brother. Amen.
nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
From a set of "Directions to the Binder" in the 1740 London printing of New Memoirs of the Life and Poetical Works of Mr. John Milton (this copy formerly owned by one George Symmons, whose handwriting is lovely):
Be sure to lay a piece of waste paper between each of the Messo-tincto prints & the titles they are to face, to prevent the plates from setting off: &, for the same reason take care not to insert the plates before you beat the book, as also to beat the book itself as little as may be while it is green or new printed. All Books would appear neater, if not bound 'till three months after they are printed. 25. March 1740.
I know about off-setting, but this is the first I've heard of book-beating. Must look it up ...


nebroadwe: From "The Magdalen Reading" by Rogier van der Weyden.  (Default)
The Magdalen Reading

August 2014



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