Thursday, June 27, 2013

Books and Resources in the News

1535 sea battle at Golleta. From an uncataloged pictorial history in the Saint John's University Rare books collection.

Some recent posts from American Libraries Direct that may be of interest to "medievalists" (or: followers of "medievalism?")


Legal trove headed to Yale
A pocket-size handwritten copy of Magna Carta from the 14th century, the first book on the legal rights of women published in England (1632), letters to and from the 18th-century jurist William Blackstone, and the first English legal bibliography (Thomas Bassett’s A Catalogue of the Common and Statute Law-books of This Realm, 1671) are among the highlights of a rich trove of rare legal books and manuscripts just acquired by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library....
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, June 17

Browsing habits of 14th-century readers
A new book by MIT Professor Arthur Bahr, Fragments and Assemblages, reveals that in the 14th century many people maintained eclectic reading habits. Consider Andrew Horn, the chamberlain for the city of London in the 1320s. The manuscripts in Horn’s possession, handed down to the city and preserved today, reveal a rich mixture of shorter texts: legal treatises, French-language poetry, and descriptions of London, all bound together....
MIT News, May 23

“Old book smell” is a mix of grass and vanilla
Joachim Koch writes: “Scientists say that ‘old book smell’ is more than just mustiness; it contains hints of grass and vanilla. That’s because of all the compounds used to make the book release its distinctive odors as they break down. For example, lignin, which is present in all wood-based paper, is closely related to vanillin. As it breaks down, the lignin grants old books that faint vanilla scent. It may even be possible to approximate the age of a book based on its smell.”...
International League of Antiquarian Booksellers

A medieval comic book
Damien Kempf writes: “This a page from the Bible of Stephen Harding, a manuscript produced in the early 12th century (Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 14). These scenes, which recount the life of biblical King David, read like a contemporary comic book: from top to bottom and left to right, with captions on top of each image (and sometimes within the images). It is one of the earliest, and most striking, examples of comic-like medieval pages.” The full manuscript is viewable on the French Enluminures website. It predates by 700 years the Glasgow Looking Glass from the 1820s, considered an early example....
Damien Kempf, June 15; Glasgow School of Art Library, June 25

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