BEHIND A LARGE CAUTION SIGN on a locked door inside the Houston Metropolitan Research Center at Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building downtown, you’ll find the vault. It’s not filled with money or an arsenal, but it does contain the world’s most valuable currency and deadliest weapon—the written word. Researchers must apply to peruse the rare, often centuries-old books and other artifacts inside the room, which is kept at a crisp 60 degrees and cared for by preservation librarian Elizabeth Mayer.
The University of Reading has discovered pages of one of the first books printed in England, dating from the 15th century. The pages of a mediaeval priest’s handbook, dating to between 1476 and 1477, were found in the University’s archives by Special Collections librarian Erika Delbecque while she was cataloguing thousands of items showing the history of print and graphic design.From One of the first books ever printed in England disc
Over the past year, Neuhauser has been cataloging VCU Libraries’ trove of books published before 1800, allowing researchers to not only search by author, title and subject, but also now by a wide variety of material features. “Especially with older books, one thing that’s interesting to book historians like me is the material aspects of the books,” Neuhauser said.
From time to time this blog shows damaged manuscripts. One may be inclined to think that books are better off in pristine condition. However, Karin Scheper, conservator at the University Library Leiden, explains why it is sometimes better to leave a book be. Here is an intriguing guest post about useful disrepair and the upsides of damage. Enjoy! Erik Kwakkel
“The idea is that you’re not just conserving the image digitally—you can actually restore it digitally,” Seales explained, in his earnest, go-getter way. The potential struck him in 1995, when he was assisting Kevin Kiernan, an English professor, on a digital-imaging project involving the only extant copy of “Beowulf,” the medieval masterwork, which is in the British Library. The manuscript was damaged in a fire in 1731.
When it comes to where one might find rare works of art or valuable historical artifacts, most people think of museums or perhaps the Boston Public Library, particularly after the high-profile “loss” earlier this year of valuable prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt that were ultimately found 80 feet from where they should have been filed.
Perusing the Frauenzimmerspiegel raises many questions about gender roles assigned to men and women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It also speaks to the public and private place of women in a patriarchal society at that time and how more enlightened thinking slowly began to redefine these roles into civic models.