Hello, all my lovely followers! Long time no see! Sorry for the prolonged lack of original posts, but I’ve been crazy busy at my new job as Library Technician at Smithsonian Libraries (@smithsonianlibraries)! I’m working primarily at the Cullman Library in the Natural History Museum, which houses the Smithsonian’s special collections relating to natural history, although I’ve also spent some time at the Dibner Library, which is home to special collections relating to the physical sciences.
Although I’ve only been there for two months, I’ve had the opportunity to do and see some amazing things! From a shelving unit for miniature books to a well-loved 13th century Armenian manuscript (MSS 1675B), the Libraries are truly full of wonders great and small. One of my favorites is the volvelle, or rotating calculator, found in a 16th century alchemical manuscript (MSS 867B)– I just love it when books are interactive! Expect more from that one in the future.
Today is the Ides of March—infamous day of Julius Caesar’s assassination in ancient Rome in 44 B.C. The “Ides” were part of the Roman calendar, signifying the midpoint of the month.
In his diary entry on the Ides 60 years ago today, the Getty’s founder J. Paul Getty wrote, “2000 years ago today Julius Caesar was assassinated. I have always considered him as the ablest man that history records. A consummate statesman, politician, general, orator, prose writer, builder and a very human man with great personal charm. For his day he was a man of good character and kindness. His one great weakness was his inability to distinguish between the possible and the impossible. Had he lived another 15 or 20 years the history of the world might have been different.”
Fun fact: the month of July is named after Julius Caesar, who was divinized by the Romans after his death.
I got to attend the New York Antiquarian Book Fair for the first time on Friday! It was so lovely to see all of my booky friends, as well as to see the wonders everyone brought to sell– from the very small to the very large, from gorgeously tooled leather to embroidered cloth, and from fore edge to spine, everything was dazzling! If you can ever get to an antiquarian book fair, even if you don’t have the money to buy anything, I highly recommend it! It’s such a treat to see the wide variety of books that are out there, and to wonder at their beauty.
With thanks to @maggs-bros , Sokol Books, Quaritch, Jonathan A. Hill, @justincroft-blog and everyone else ♥
Medieval manuscript of the week is a stunningly bound manuscript from Flanders or France. It is one of the treasures of the Bodleian library, and currently on display in the new Treasures exhibition in the Weston Library.
I’d love to tell you more about the manuscript, but my computer isn’t cooperating tonight, so you’ll have to savour the photo of the luxurious binding and wait for more details later in the week!
Image source: Author’s own. Released into the public domain. The manuscript is Bodleian MS Auct D 4.2
(Roman de la Rose vv. 15897-15905: ‘Nature, whose thoughts were on the things enclosed beneath the sky, had entered her forge, where she was concentrating all her efforts upon the forging of individual creatures to continue the species. For individuals give such life to species that, however much death pursues them, she can never catch up with them.’ – transl. F. Horgan)