Tuesday 17 February 2015

Ice-Cream Cones or Eyes?

One way in which ownership of manuscripts can be attributed Christ Church, Canterbury, is by the presence of some distinctive marginal markings:
This image comes from a description in a Sotheby's catalogue, 24 June 1980, lot 68, which Chrisopher de Hamel describes as
"three types of marginal markings: a hand with a triangular cuff and long pointing finger, a group of 4 dots arranged in a saltire pattern, and (most distinctive of all) a mark like a sideways icecream cone"

I have recently added images of such markings to the MLGB3 website (about which I will blog at a later date), including these two:

Rather than ice-cream cones, the marks suggest to me a human eye, seen in profile: a round eyeball to the left, and the two eyelids converging at a point to the right. Just as pointing hands / manicula are a natural way of drawing a reader's attention to specific parts of a text, so too an eye seems like a logical way to indicate that the reader should look closely at a particular passage.

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