A cookbook, or a sketchbook? According to Miss Caldwell - both! We call this manuscript recipe book, ‘Miss Caldwell’s Book’, due to the ownership markings found in the back of the book (you can see it on the above picture). Dated around 1757-1790, this cookbook contains numerous doodles along with beautifully written recipes for a wide variety of foods, including pies, puddings, pastries, soups, meat and fish dishes, home-made wines, and more! Some of the more interesting recipes include arty-choak pye, a neats tongue pye, almond flummery, an eell soop, whipp sillybub, and a sturgeon of a turkey. Yum?
This manuscript is from South Hampton, England, and is bound with vellum boards. You can view the entire cookbook on the Iowa Digital Library here!
Hands with pointing fingers are quite normal in medieval books. Readers drew them in the margins to identify passages they found important or useful. The hands in this image, however, are not normal: they are extravagant and, quite frankly, weird. They are very different from the subtle gestures we usually encounter. For one thing, they are not drawn with a pen, as is normally the case, but painted. This is significant because it implies that they were not done on the fly, but carefully planned in advance. A book like this was made commercially, which means that the reader hired a professional artist to paint the hands (and, by the way, also himself, in this image in front of the book). This, in turn, implies that the passages marked by the fingers had special significance to the book’s owner, who must have pointed them out to the artist when he commissioned it. They may look silly, these illustrations, but they have quite a story to tell.
Pic: Paris, BnF, Fr. MS 12584, containing a 14th-century copy of the Old French Reynard the Fox. Check out the entire manuscript, with more images, here. Check this Tumblr I posted a while back with some other unusual pointing fingers. Here is blog by @sexycodicology on pointing hands in early-modern books.
Heather Bain, a graduate student from @uicb was taking a look at some pages under UV light in order to see some faded marginalia and inscriptions.
Heather is compiling information about the copy-specific features of our incunables for inclusion in the Material Evidence in Incunabula database, part of the 15cBOOKTRADE Project.
She was very kind to share some photos with us. Here’s what Heather had to say about it:
can see, in visible light you can just barely tell that the inscriptions are
there at all, but they’re much clearer under UV. I especially like the
inscription in the top right margin (image uvlight) that says “Joannes
1616 emit me” or “John bought me in 1616”. There’s also an
inscription from Claudius Mingron (?–not sure about his last name) from 1672,
another owner’s inscription at the top, and some Latin that is unfortunately still
not very legible inside the versal.
The book is a copy of the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de
Varagine from 1480 (Call # BX4654
.J3 1480). The inscriptions were washed or bleached out after the book was
rebound in the 18th century, as was common practice.”
PSA: Always protect your eyes when working with UV light.
A Briefe and Most Easie Introduction to the Astrologicall Judgement of the Starres (1598)
This late sixteenth century astrological treatise by Claude Dariot is filled with what appear to be contemporary marginal notes. These marginalia are written in an arcane astrological language, and feature extensive astronomical calculations.
We recognize many of the symbols used, but have not yet made an effort to directly translate these strange marginalia. Is anyone able to make sense of this esoteric astrological code? What sort of secrets are hidden in these 400 year old margins?