Saturday, 28 May 2022

Leaves from Cicero, De oratore, written in 1453

University of Rochester, D.460 1353-001 [Source]

In preparation for a manuscripts safari this summer, I am combing through online library catalogues of collections in New York state for manuscripts of interest. The Rush Rhees Library of the University of Rochester has an online handlist of its medieval and early modern manuscripts, for example, and one that particularly caught my eye is this:

The precise date "1353", suggests that the cataloguer knew something about the parent manuscript, and reminded me of Otto Ege's Dominican Missal dated 1353. As luck would have it, this is one of only two medieval manuscripts for which images are available online, so I was able to have a look; a whole-page view is shown above. 

Sunday, 22 May 2022

MdM and AdM


Occasionally a provenance clue consists of the initials of the the forenames of the owner and his/her spouse, joined by a so-called "love-knot".

I recently noticed an example that has not two, but three initials, "M", "d", and "M", as above; here is the full page:

McGill University, MS 104

The presence of three initials struck me as odd, but I didn't give it any more thought.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Frederic Madden's Journal: The Rogers Sale

I have mentioned at least twice before the potential importance of distinguishing between the first day of a multi-day auction (which is how people usually cite auctions), and the day on which a particular manuscript was actually sold, as the latter could be several weeks later. One situation in which we may need to know the day on which a manuscript sold, is when we are trying to find references to it in things like personal diaries and journals, or newspaper reports. 

Many people are aware of the value of Sydney Cockerell's diaries (now at the BL) for finding out about auctions of the first half of the 20th century, but it seems that too few people use the journals of Frederic Madden for information about 19th-centuy sales.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

"The School of Giotto"

One of the challenges of provenance research is interpreting catalogue descriptions when there is no accompanying image to verify the identity of a manuscript. The task would be simpler if catalogue descriptions were always accurate, but they sometimes contain typographical errors; sometimes written statements are open to different interpretations and are therefore ambiguous; sometimes cataloguers get things wrong in good faith; and they often get things wrong by being overly optimistic in their attributions.