The New York Public Library, in addition to having a glorious Beaux Arts main building, has a vast collection of historic images. More than 800,000 images are available for perusal in its Digital Collections, an invaluable resource on the history of New York. I would have made much use of it in this blog but high resolution images are only available for a fee of at least $50 apiece which is rather pricey for works out of copyright.
This has bummed me out for years, so when I read that the NYPL was releasing more than 20,000 digitized maps, I assumed that we’d only be to view these cartographical works in versions too small to appreciate the details, which is bad enough with pictures of people or buildings but is infinitely worse with maps. Something something ass u me, because the entire collection can be viewed in exquisitely high resolution on the website and can even be downloaded! All you have to do is create an account free of charge on the NYPL’s Map Warper site and once that’s done, you see an Export tab on each map entry from which you can download the high resolution file.
Fair warning: the Map Warper takes ages to load, or at least it has for me at various times over several days. Everything I’ve accessed has eventually loaded without errors, but it took minutes. I suggest opening it in a new tab to wait out the load time. Once you have your account, be prepared to wait again for the maps to load. From the comments on the NYPL’s blog entry announcing the release, it appears to be your basic birthing pains and they have top men on it. Top. Men.
In any case, gems like these are worth the wait.
We’ve been scanning maps for about 15 years, both as part of the NYPL’s general work but mostly through grant funded projects like the 2001 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded American Shores: Maps of the MidAtlantic to 1850, the 2004 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded Building a Globally Distributed Historical Sheet Map Set and the 2010 NEH funded New York City Historical GIS.
Through these projects, we’ve built up a great collection of: 1,100 maps of the Mid-Atlantic United States and cities from the 16th to 19th centuries, mostly drawn from the Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection; a detailed collection of more than 700 topographic maps of the Austro-Hungarian empire created between 1877 and 1914; a collection of 2,800 maps from state, county and city atlases (mostly New York and New Jersey); a huge collection of more than 10,300 maps from property, zoning, topographic, but mostly fire insurance atlases of New York City dating from 1852 to 1922; and an incredibly diverse collection of more than 1,000 maps of New York City, its boroughs and neighborhoods, dating from 1660 to 1922, which detail transportation, vice, real estate development, urban renewal, industrial development and pollution, political geography among many, many other things.
One of the neatest features the Map Warper offers is the ability for members to rectify a map, meaning overlay it as accurately as possible over a modern digital Google Map using control points on both maps. Here’s a handy tutorial on how to rectify:
And here’s a before and after of a particularly warp-heavy map from sea to shining sea:
I love this one of New Orleans because the 1860 map is basically identical to the modern map only of course the city boundaries have sprawled much further afield now:
Medieval bookbinders may have been the precursors of eReaders when they developed the dos-à-dos (or "back-to-back") book with two or more separate texts and multi-hinged covers. One example is the beautiful devotional dos-à-dos book owned by the National Library of Sweden which includes six works. (photos)
Posted on behalf of the Backlog Deputy for the EK Signet Office. Hugh Tauerner, Backlog Deputy to the EK Signet office would like it known that he will have the portfolio of completed backlog scrolls at the 6-month Jubilee of Their Royal Majesties, Kenric & Avelina (i.e. Coronation). On the linked page you will find a list of all completed scrolls currently in his possession. If you are on the list then please see him to take receipt of your scroll, or you may send someone in your stead. http://signet.eastkingdom.org/wp/backlogs/completed-backlogs/ The Backlog Deputy can be contacted directly at email@example.com
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Caelin on Andrede reports that he has posted an album of photos from the recent Winter Crown Tournament in the Kingdom of Ansteorra. The photos are available to view on his Flickr website.
The ring, dubbed the North-Essex Ring, is the centerpiece of the new display. It’s a gold signet ring with a rectangular bezel and a heavy hoop 26.6mm in diameter at the widest point. It weighs a total of 20.1 grams and its composition is 92-94% gold, 5-6% silver and the rest a copper alloy. The square bezel and broad hoop are a Frankish form — for comparison see this Frankish ring from approximately the same period unearthed in the Mulsanne, France, and now in the British Museum — but the decoration on the North-Essex Ring is distinctly Anglo-Saxon.
On the bezel is engraved a belted male figure, possibly naked despite the presence of the belt. There is no visible clothing like the male and female figures on the Mulsanne ring wear. The man is holding a bird in one hand and a staff topped with a cross in the other. Above his head is another bird, bigger and more detailed. Both of the birds have curved beaks, indicating they’re birds of prey and the detail in the larger one identifies it as a Style II design, a zoomorphic style in which whole animals are depicted in an elongated, stylized fashion. Some of the pieces from the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial are decorated in Style II.
The decoration and ring style date the piece to around 580-650 A.D., a period when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Kent, Essex and East Anglia were first introduced to Christianity. Pope Gregory I sent Augustine, a Benedictine monk who would become the first Archbishop of Canterbury, on a mission to convert King Æthelberht of Kent in 597 A.D. The combination of pre-Christian North European motifs and the Christian crossed staff makes the ring an extremely rare example of religious syncretism from this transitional period.
Another of the five objects secured by the Saffron Walden Museum is also a rare example from a transitional period in British history, albeit a much later one. It’s a gold ring from the 16th or early 17th century. The band is decorated with circular medallions in which are engraved scenes from the passion of the Christ. This imagery is Catholic, but from a time when people had to hide their adherence to Roman Catholicism to save their necks.
They don’t have a religious significance, but there are two historically significant gold coins in the new collection. They’re Gallo-Belgic class four gold staters struck in the Somme area in northwest France in the mid-2nd century B.C. Both of them are quite worn, one of them bent along the edge, indicating they were in circulation for some time before winding up in the ground. Very few class four gold staters have been found in Britain, and these are the earliest ever discovered in the district.
The last two artifacts are a silver hooked tag from the 9th century A.D. decorated with stylized animals that once held niello accents although the black enamel is long gone. (it’s known as Trewhiddle-style decoration) and an identified silver object with engraved niello animal figures from the 8th or 9th century.
All of the artifacts will be on display together starting April 5th. The museum has made a replica of the North-Essex Ring available so visitors can handle it and appreciate its size and decoration in person, which I think is a nifty idea that more museums should incorporate in their exhibitions.
Bruce Holsinger and Nancy Bilyeau, two of the leading medieval novelists, had the chance to meet up in New York City and have a conversation about writing historical fiction, how they went about researching their novels, and what stories and styles influenced their writing.
For example, Bruce says to Nancy "you flesh out those aspects of daily life with remarkable skill, without a lot of hand waving or showing off of historical details. I actually struggled a bit with this at first. I knew the medieval period in terms of its literary history, but in terms of the details of everyday life, that was a brand new learning experience. I had to go back and relearn a lot of what I thought I knew. There are so many passages in the literature that will tell you about, say, the food at a feast, but I never really paid attention to those until I had to figure out what people ate in a scene I was writing."
Nancy replies, "Exactly! I was never happier than when a curator at the Tower of London scanned in a diet sheet of an aristocratic prisoner in the 1540s and sent me a PDF. I had every detail down to how many pigeons eaten a week."
You can read their conversation from The Daily Beast.
Nancy Bilyeau's latest book is called The Chalice - we will have a review about it on Medievalists.net very soon! Bruce Holsinger's novel is called A Burnable Book.
The excavation of a ditch to bury an electrical cable has led to the discovery of a medieval church wall at St Ffinan's Church in Anglesey, England. The original church, believed to have been built in 620 CE, was mostly destroyed when the newer church was built in the 19th century.
Stephan Guth, Professor of Arabic at the University of Oslo, has created EtymArab, an electronic database designed to collect and make available research on the history of the Arabic Language. The first part, containing 1,000 words and concepts, is now online.
Hiccops-art (6K) 12/28/13 "Medieval oddities: Hiccups" by Lady Catherine Ambrose.
E-Eglsh-Prose-art(165K) 12/27/13 "Echoes of Oral Tradition in the Dialogues of Ælfric’s Natale Sancte Agnetis" by Detlef von Marburg. (Master's thesis)
Early-Keybrds-art (7K) 12/11/13 "Early Keyboards and Their Music" by Domhnall O'Dochartaigh.
horse-recipes-msg (61K) 12/13/13 Period horse recipes. References.
dairy-prod-msg (108K) 12/15/13 Dairy products. milk, butter, curds, cream.
milk-msg (31K) 12/15/13 Medieval and modern milk.
illusion-fds-msg (147K) 12/13/13 Medieval illusion foods. Disguised food.
Gaelic-Dress-art (81K) 11/30/13 "Gaelic Dress" by HL Finnacan Dub.
Bear-Safety-art (6K) 12/22/13 "Bear Safety in Oertha" by Kurios Halfdan 'Two Bears' Ôzurrson.
Does anyone read this feed? Or should I discontinue it?
It does take a fair amount of effort to keep doing, rather than simply uploading the new and updated files to the site.
If you use it and want it to continue, please email me at: StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
kvass-msg (78K) 12/13/13 Russian drink made from bread or grains.
Arch-H-Gntlet-art (4K) 12/23/13 "Archer's Half Gauntlet" by The Honorable Lord Jochen Schwalbe.