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Posts Tagged ‘Rare Books’

A pair of facing turtle doves in a roundel, f.32r, Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen University Library MS 24). Image via Aberdeen University Library website.

A pair of facing turtle doves in a roundel, f.32r, Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen University Library MS 24). Image via Aberdeen University Library website.

One of the most wonderful sights in this world is the shimmer of gold leaf on a manuscript page as it comes into the light. It is of course most well-known from medieval manuscripts, but has never quite stopped being used altogether. Consider Phoebe Traquair’s illuminated manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. A full page, or a full miniature, with a background of gold leaf, never fails to catch my breath, just for a moment. Thus I have chosen as today’s image of light just such a miniature from the Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen University Library MS 24). This manuscript was produced in the 12th century, and has a most interesting history. It has been fully digitised and is available online here, complete with translations and transcriptions. The birds are beautifully realised and stand out wonderfully against the shimmering gold. I chose the turtle dove image because two of these birds were sent, along with a partridge in a pear tree, to the singer of “The Twelve Days of Christmas, on the second day.

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Having not long returned from an all-women discussion on the Scottish Independence Referendum, organised by Women for Independence, and thus being very inspired and much better-informed, how could tonight’s Mid-week Museum post not be about a Scottish work of art?

The Monymusk Reliquary, National Museum of Scotland, c.700 A.D. (wood covered in bronze and silver plates)

The Monymusk Reliquary, National Museum of Scotland, c.700 A.D. (wood covered in bronze and silver plates)

The Monymusk Reliquary dates from the 8th century, and gets its name from Monymusk House, where it was kept for an unknown number of years before being acquired by the National Museum of Scotland in 1933. (more…)

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La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896).  Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896). Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

I’ve always been impressed by the (first and second wave) Pre-Raphaelites’ many talents. They were not just artists, and as a lifelong student of languages (medieval languages in particular), William Morris’ work in translating Old French and Old Norse romances and epics, is of particular interest. When I first began researching the use of original medieval works by the Pre-Raphaelites, I was focusing more on such use in their art. Morris’ only painting, of Janey Morris as La Belle Iseult, is an obvious example (look to the left). (more…)

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It’s been great to get home in time for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, one of the biggest events to hit my homeland, and it’s going so well – I’m thrilled. My tastes lie more to the cultural side of things than the sporting, but I defy you all not to find Erraid Davies inspirational and utterly adorable. However, today’s post is not about the current Commonwealth Games competition. Following extensive top-secret research, I have discovered that these games are not the first to have taken place in Glasgow. Follow me back into 1314……….. (more…)

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Image source: CAIS “My Modules” link image

Since I first heard about this course – I think via the Rare Books and Special Collections JISC mailing list – I really wanted to sign up. I managed to be sensible, in terms of time management, and finally registered for the September 2013-January 2014 intake. (more…)

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Goatskin book binding, tooled in blind and gold (style: Mudejar, Moorish inspired geometric; Interlacing ribbon/strapwork), Africa, 13th century. Qur’an (pt 7) Manuscript [Marakesh, c1256] – British Library.

This afternoon, I went to the Royal United Services Institute Library of Military History, to learn more about the cataloguing of bookbindings, a subject relevant to the development of my own library’s burgeoning Special Collections, which are under my care.

I will write more fully about the really excellent – and entertaining – training given by Carlo Dumontet (RUSI Associate Library Fellow) and organised by Tony Pilmer (Librarian), at a later date, but today’s Medieval Monday post focuses on a small but interesting (I hope) observation of mine.

This bookbinding, an example of thirteenth century Islamic craftsmanship, was not one of the examples that we used this afternoon, but others very like it seemed immediately familiar, in spite of my knowing that I had neither curated nor researched such items. Then it came to me. Just something else to ponder of a morning.

Carpet page, f.33r, Book of Kells (Trinity College Dublin MS 58, vellum, c.800), image via Wikimedia Commons

Carpet page, f.33r, Book of Kells (Trinity College Dublin MS 58, vellum, c.800), image via Wikimedia Commons

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While waiting for a much-needed storm to clear the air, and while fearing to look at any up-to-the-minute media, I’ve been reading up on what the sun got up to in medieval times. Its life definitely seemed much more interesting back then. (more…)

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