Posts by Pablo Alvarez

To censor, or not to censor, that is the question

Title page of Gilbert Genebrand. ΕΙΣΑΓΟΓΗ Gilb. Genebrardi theologi parisiensis, divinarum hebraicarumque literarum professoris regii. Ad legenda & intelligenda Hebraeorum & Orientalium  sine punctis scripta (Paris: Aegidius Gorbinius, 1587)

I recently came across this sixteenth-century introductory manual designed to teach Christian biblical scholars how to read and understand works in Hebrew and other Oriental languages without punctuation and stress marks. But what makes our copy remarkable is that the names of well-known Protestant scholars, and other infidels, have been carefully crossed out, that is, expurgated, following the Inquisition's recommendations to censor authors considered heretical according to the teachings...

Puzzling out Hrabanus Maurus' Encyclopedia: A Manuscript Tale

Upper part of Mich. Ms. f. 14r. Leaf fragment containing Hrabanus Maurus' De rerum naturis, 14, 27. Parchment. 210 x 150 mm. Spain. 14th c. Special Collections Research Center (University of Michigan Library)

When searching for manuscripts of Hrabanus Maurus' medieval encyclopedia De rerum naturis (On the Natures of Things) in the database Digital Scriptorium, I came across a leaf fragment held at Columbia University Libraries (Plimpton MS 128 ) which, in terms of its handwriting and style of illumination, was clearly connected to a leaf fragment held at the University of Michigan Library (Mich. Ms. f. 14).

Marking the 500th Anniversary of the Death of Leonardo

Copperplate engraving from Trattato della Pittura di Lionardo da Vinci. Trato da un Codice della Biblioteca Vaticana e dedicato alla Maestá di Luigi XVIII Re di Francia e di Navarra (Rome: Stamperia de Romanis, 1817)

According to Giorgio Vasari’s biographies, The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Architects, Painters, and Sculptors, Leonardo da Vinci died on May 2, 1519. As museums around the world are commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo with various exhibits, we would like to join the celebrations of Leonardo’s legacy by highlighting our copies of some early printed editions of his Trattato della Pittura (Treatise on Painting).

A New Online Exhibit from Special Collections: Marks in Books

Spine and front cover of Gulielmus Durandus (ca. 1230-1296) et alii. [Tractatus varii] Paper. Germany 15th c.

We are pleased to announce the launching of our most recent Omeka exhibit: Marks in Books. In this online exhibit, the term "marks" refers to physical elements that have been added to manuscripts and early printed books throughout time, that is, from the instance when they were being made until they arrived to our shelves. Mostly, these marks were not intended by the authors, scribes and printers as they originally envisioned their books, but were later included in the form of...

After Hours in Special Collections: History of the Stars

Folio 121v from Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). Nicolai Copernici Torinensis de revolutionibus orbium coelestium, Libri VI (Nuremberg: Johannes Petreius, 1543)

You are invited to see highlights from the library's extraordinary collection of manuscripts and early printed books describing the early history of astrology and astronomy. Mark your calendars for this Tuesday (3/12/19; 4:00-7:00 pm). The selection will range from ancient papyri to richly illustrated books that made possible the scientific revolution in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including first editions of the works of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.

On a Damaged Manuscript and the Weather

Folio 1r from Horace (65-8 BC). Ars Poetica & Epistulae. Parchment. Italy. 15th c.

When cataloging this fifteenth-century Italian manuscript, I saw that some of the pages have been damaged by brushing a chemical reagent on some areas that were difficult to read. While in the short term this substance was designed to make traces of ink more legible, the long-term impact on the manuscript is disastrous as shown in the image below.

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