Posts tagged ‘provenance’

July 8, 2011

Le bon temps viendra.

Montfaucon, Bernard de, 1655-1741.
Palæographia græca, sive De ortu et progressu literatum græcarium, et de variis omnium sæculorum scriptionis græcæ generibus: itemque de abbreviationibus & de notis variarum artium ac disciplinarum. Additis figuris & schematibus ad fidem manuscriptorum codicum. Opera & studio D. Bernardi de Montfaucon.
Parisiis, apud Ludovicum Guerin [etc.] 1708


There’s a bookplate in this volume that has raised a few questions.  I’m going to raise a few more!

Both Burke’s [1] and Fairbairn’s [1, 2] lead me to the name Harcourt.  Several members of the Harcourt family have used the peacock on a coronet as a crest—the top part of the armorial.  Adding to that, various Harcourts have used the motto “Le bon temps viendra,” which appears on this bookplate, so I think we’re likely dealing with a member of the Harcourt family.

The shield itself indicates two marriages; this is what’s called  a composite shield of arms.  On the left half (which, to make matters extra-confusing, is referred to as the dexter… because it would be on the right if you were standing behind it) there are the gold bars on a red background of the Harcourt family and the arms of another family; two sets of arms are divided in a manner that’s called “quarterly.”  Basically, the left half shows the arms of a son of a Harcourt.  On the right (the sinister.. I know, I know), we have the arms of this son’s wife.

So, which Harcourt are we dealing with and who is the wife?  This bookplate probably belonged to their child.

I’d describe the wife’s arms as: “azure on a fess dancetty argent between three griffins passant wings endorsed or three escallops gules.”  In non-heraldic language, that’s a blue background with three griffins, plus three red scallop shells on a silver jagged bar in the middle.  But I can’t find this family in the digital editions of the relevant reference books… so I have to keep poking around!

The bookplate itself doesn’t look super-old to my (admittedly non-expert) eye—possibly 19th century?

If you’re wondering how I’ve determined colors from the b/w image, check out this Wikipedia article on heraldic tinctures.

Also on Wikipedia, an article about the House of Harcourt, which had both English and French branches.

Which Harcourt was reading about Greek palaeography?  Any thoughts would be most welcome.  I’ll post this image in some other locations as well… let’s see what we learn.


June 22, 2011

CERL online provenance resource

Just back from Rare Book School and I (Sarah) want to share the link for an interesting provenance resource.  The Consortium of European Research Libraries has developed a forum where you can post images of mysterious inscriptions, library stamps, bookplates, etc., and let the world of researchers comment.

(Click on “Login” to create an account.)

The site, like CERL itself, is very Western-dominated.  But why not mix things up with a few Byzantine/Greek provenance questions?  And, of course, a lot of Greek manuscripts are held in Western collections.

June 22, 2011

Week 3: June 20-24

The interns started the week by adding more A-D strips, then continued work on the microfilm from Mt. Athos.

Progress slowed when the team discovered 12 microfilm of Mone Iveron 648. Oy! What a tangle!  It appears that the late Prof. Westerink had trouble acquiring images that were adequate for his needs as he prepared the critical edition of the letters of Patriarch Photios I; because of  missing pages, poor photography, foreign objects obscuring text, etc. , he ordered copies of the same manuscript again and again. With great patience, our team sorted out which of his microfilm had which components of the manuscript, which had which legible pages, and what the handwritten notes on each of the old microfilm boxes signified. The records they created about each microfilm will be welcome by anyone who would like to use the DO microfilm to study this specific manuscript. On Wednesday morning, the last of the Mone Iveron 648 microfilm were processed.

On Wednesday morning, the team met with Michael Sohn, a member of our Publications staff who developed the database. Michael revealed the latest and greatest version of the database. One small problem with its system for generating local call numbers, but Michael came up with a work-around. The team started work with a shared version of the final database on Thursday morning (just before lunch). By the end of the day Friday (1.5 days with the new database), the team had processed 15 records.

In the next weeks, Michael will work on mapping the data from the previous, simpler versions of the database to the new, more sophisticated one. A post about the final version of the database will be added to the blog shortly.

Other activities this week: The team added more A-D strips on Wednesday afternoon (we are picking up speed on cataloging so hard to stay ahead of ourselves!), and the team tackled more of the mystery film from Ševčenko’s collection. More success as we identified film from Uppsala, Strasburg, and other cities. Saskia pulled the short straw and worked on the biggest mystery of them all: a privately owned manuscript which she learned had once belonged to the Ashburnam collection in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence (perhaps we should rename her Sherlock!)

On Friday afternoon, library casual Sarah Mackowski helped us catch up on labels and stamping boxes, after Deb types out the labels for all microfilm processed in the old versions of the database. As Saskia is fond of saying, “for the crown of martyrdom” 🙂

Total number of microfilm processed from June 6 through the end of the day June 27 (basically, three work weeks minus first day of orientation but including time spent on meetings with Michael, time lost on database and network hiccups, etc.): 115 microfilm

June 21, 2011

Χιονόπτωση στὸ Μοναστήρι τῶν Γεωργιανῶν

Iviron 369 (our MTA.8.8), a manuscript from anno mundi 7124 [=AD 1616] in a beautiful archaizing hand, contains a sequentia about, a viva of, and an encomium to the Patriarch Athanasius the Younger. Two and a half centuries later (AM 7371) at the very end of the manuscript (fol. 155r), a monk whose specialty must have been something other than orthography leaves us a note about the weather.  Below is a diplomatic transcription, one with standardized spelling, and a translation.  Special thanks to Σασκῶπον καὶ Βλαδιμηρῶπον for help in deciphering the rough, but charming in its sincerity, scrawl.

1863 εκαμε μια χιονια μεγαλ̣[…]
οπο εσκεπασε το σπιτι ολω
Κυριλλως μωναχος Ιβιριτις
καιφαλινεος εγραψα τα ανω

1863 ἔκαμε μιὰ χιονιὰ μεγάλη, ὁποὺ ἐσκέπασε τὸ σπίτι ὅλο. Κύριλλος μοναχὸς Ἰβηρίτης Κεφαλληναῖος ἔγραψα τὰ ἄνω.

In 1863 there was a big snowstorm that covered the whole house. I, Cyril the Cephallonian, monk of Iviron, wrote the above.

If this Cyril is the same scribe who wrote in either of the gorgeous hands of the two previous pages, then he must have made himself quite free with the “μωναστυρηακω κρασυ” before deciding to tell us about the snowstorm.  ~Roderick

Cyril of Cephallonia's Autograph

June 12, 2011

My first week on the project

If I were to sum up impressions from my first week at DO in one word, it would probably be one of the marginal notes I’ve encountered in the manuscripts: θαυμασιώτατον. Not only that I am surrounded by wonderful people in an idyllic environment but, risking that I may sound too nerdy, cataloging microfilms is incredibly exciting!

One of my favorites so far was finding a marginal inscription in a secret Greek alphabet called φήλτικον (and the key for it too); other two secret alphabets were called τζάτικον and ἰνδικόν (pictures to follow soon). Another jewel was a 19th century copy of Dionysius of Phourna’s Ἑρμηνεία τῆς ζωγραφικῆς ἐπιστήμης handwritten by Gennadios, a Russian monk from Athos, whose shaky knowledge of Greek orthography was compensated with his carefully shaped letters and a touching personal story in the introduction. Both MSS are kept in the National Library in Athens.

The real excitement, however, came when a manuscript appeared with mistaken numbers or without notes at all, and with a fragment of a (hardly legible) text from unspecified source. Thus I met my new Dutch best friend—apart from Saskia—the 17th century humanist Isaac Vossius, to whose collection at Rijksuniversiteit in Leiden I traced some of the manuscripts, mistakenly held to be from Athens. But I can’t tell you how ;).