Scribal Arts

Calligraphy, illumination, paper making, bookbinding, printing, and related sciences and arts

15th century "pop-up" book

On his Tumblr page, Dutch book historian Erik Kwakkel features a 15th century "pop-up" book, complete with a three dimensional illustration of the phases of the moon. (photo)

New sources on the Battle of Crécy

The October 2013 issue of History Today magazine features an article by Richard Barber which looks at recently discovered sources on the Battle of Crécy (1346). An excerpt from Edward III and the Battle of Crécy is available free online. The entire article is reserved for subscribers to the magazine. (photo)

The light of medieval times

In a 2013 paper, published in volume 4 of i-Perception on perceptionweb.com, Claus-Christian Carbon and Pia Deininger look at the role and perception of light in the medieval world. The paper is entitled Golden perception: Simulating perceptual habits of the past.

Hobby Lobby president purchases world's oldest Jewish prayer book

“This is the oldest Jewish prayer book known to exist in the world,” said Steven Green, the president of the retail chain Hobby Lobby, on the purchase of a 9th century parchment manuscript. Green, a collector of religious artifacts, plans to donate the book, along with his collection to the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

Lindisfarne Gospels turn over a new leaf

It's a time for celebration in Durham, England, as a page is turned in the 1,300-year-old Lindisfarne Gospels. Carefully-regulated, early visitors viewed two pages of the open book: the Canon Tables, but for the remainder of the exhibition, the book will be opened to a portrait of St John the Evangelist. (photo)

Illumination meets graffiti to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospels

Dutch graffiti artist Niels Meulman, AKA Shoe, is no stranger to medieval manuscripts, having been inspired by such works as the Irish Gaelic poem Pangur Bán, so it isn't surprising that he has been chosen to help celebrate the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the north of England as part of an exhibition.

Laws of Hywel Dda online

Last year, the 14th century book, the Laws of Hywel Dda, was purchased at auction by the National Library of Wales and brought home after nearly 300 years in exile in the United States. Now the book is on display at the library in Aberystwyth, and available for all to see online.

Luther pamphlets stolen from museum in Eisenach

Officials at the Lutherhaus museum in Eisenach, Germany were shocked to learn that three original 16th century printed pamphlets by Martin Luther had been stolen from the museum July 12, 2013. The pamphlets included hand-written notes by contemporaries of Luther.

Happy birthday, Giovanni Boccaccio

Through 20 December 2013, the University of Manchester and Bristol will celebrate the 700th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio, author of the 1351 Decameron, a collection of 100 tales ranging from the erotic to the tragic, with an exhibition.

Getty Museum announces Open Content Program

Nearly 5,000 high-resolution images of artworks from the Getty Museum's collections are now available in digital format "free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose" as part of the museum's Open Content Program.

Medieval Treasures From Hildesheim on display at the Met

"Smack in the middle of the Metropolitan Museum, there’s a nugget of compressed light called  Medieval Treasures From Hildesheim," begins a review of the new exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The review, by Holland Cotter, is from the Art & Design section of the New York Times.

Is there a "real" message in the Voynich manuscript?

The 15th century Voynich manuscript may be considered "the world's most mysterious medieval manuscript," and quite possibly a hoax, but a new study by theoretical physicist Marcelo Montemurro, published in the journal Plus One, theorizes that the book has a "genuine message."

Experts still evaluating loss of Timbuktu manuscripts

Earlier in 2013, Islamic extremists destroyed more than 4,000 ancient manuscripts from the medieval African city of Timbuktu, nearly one-tenth of the ancient collection. Now experts hope they can find copies digitized before the destruction.

“Gutenberg Parenthesis” discussed in interview

In a recent interview in Odense, Denmark, Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review spoke with Thomas Pettitt and Lars Ole Sauerberg, of the University of Southern Denmark, who authored the Gutenberg Parenthesis, a theory that the digital age is much like the medieval.

Sit, Nosewise, sit!

Choosing a name for a pet can be a difficult process, especially for a history buff, but documents have left evidence that medieval people also put some thought into their pets' names such as Little Hammer for a dog and Nettle Gray for a cat. Smithsonian.com has the story.

Learning about Protogothic script

On his blog, medieval book historian Erick Kwakkel discusses Protogothic script and how it transitioned from Caroline to Gothic, represented by a page from the Discorso di Leontio Artefice sopra la Sfera di Arato et Fabbrica di Quella. He also points readers to his book on the subject.

KWHSS 2013 Proceedings online

Cainder ingen hui Chatharnaig, Trillium Principal Herald for the Kingdom of Ealdormere, reports that the proceedings for the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium (KWHSS), which took place the weekend of 28-30 June 2013 in the Kingdom of Ansteorra, are now available online.

The tug-of-war over the Lindisfarne Gospels

The Lindisfarne Gospels are a British national treasure and should be part of the national collection, says the British Library. The Lindisfarne Gospels were written in the North and dedicated to St Cuthbert. They belong in Durham, says the Northumbrian Association. Who will win?

The comics of Stephen Harding

Comic books are often scorned as inferior forms of literature, originating in 1930s American pulp culture, but Damien Kempf on Tumblr traces the art form back to the 12th century with the manuscript the Bible of Stephen Harding.

Lost Welsh artifact found in stream

A chance stroll through a Welsh woods has led to the discovery of a long-lost medieval artifact. A rare 9th or 10th century inscribed stone was spotted by archaeologists Nikki Vousden and Roderick Bale in a stream near St Sulien’s Church in Silian, Wales. (photo)

Oldest Torah scroll discovered in university library

In 1889, a librarian at the University of Bologna in Italy made a terrible mistake. He dated and labeled a scroll to the 17th century, but recent tests have placed the document in the 12th century, making it "the oldest complete text of the Torah known to exist." (photo)

Young scholars learn the alphabet in 17th century England

Throughout time, children have struggled to learn to write the alphabet. On its blog Collation, the Folger Library presents examples of not only 16th and 17th century writing manuals, but actual copy books of English children. One can almost see the clenched teeth of concentration in their work.

Union Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in German Collections set to be completed in 2022

In 1957, when it was proposed, cataloging the thousands of “oriental” manuscripts scattered throughout Germany seemed an almost impossible feat, but the mammoth project may come to a successful end in 2022 if all goes well.

X-ray technology can read the unreadable

Researchers have long been distressed by the illegibility of fragile ancient parchments, but new techniques developed by scientists at Cardiff University may help read the unreadable.

The Godwine Charter returns to Canterbury

Somewhere between 1013 and 1018, Godwine sold his swine pasture in Kent, England to Leofwine the Red for 40 pence and two pounds rent and an allowance of corn. How do we know this? The sale was recorded in the Godwine Charter, an "exceptionally rare" document which recently made its way home to the Canterbury Cathedral Archives.

Lost Cortés letter found

A letter from Charles V to Hernán Cortés, proclaiming him Governor of Mexico, has been found in the State Archive in Naples. The letter is one of the oldest sent to the New World.

Lindisfarne Gospels on display in Durham

Until September 30, 2013, the Lindisfarne Gospels book will be on display in Durham University's Palace Green Library as the centerpiece of  an exhibition of artifacts from Anglo-Saxon England. In conjunction with the exhibit will be performances and family activities.

The mind of the medieval reader

Who knows what people in the 14th century reador thought? MIT professor Arthur Bahr thinks he does.

Digitization of Vatican Library faces challenges

A year after the project's announcement, the firist digitized volumes of the Vatican Library are now available online. Experts began with the library's "most delicate" volumes, including "the Vatican’s 8,900 incunabula (books printed before 1501): the Sifra, a Hebrew manuscript written a millennia ago, a 4th century manuscript of the Greek Bible and the De Europa of Pope Pius II, printed around 1491."

"Dear Edward, Leave the Scots alone!"

A copy of a previously unknown letter from Robert the Bruce to King Edward II has been discovered at the British Library. The letter, written in 1310 during the build-up to the Battle of Bannockburn, requests that Edward recognise Scottish independence and end persecution of its people. (video)