Marginalia Monday: Valentine’s Edition

The annotator of this 16th century Latin bible (one of our favorites for all its interesting markings) always adds what looks like a little heart to the “nota” abbreviation and pointing finger.

Bible. Latin. Vulgate. 1527.   Biblia cum concordantijs veteris et noui testamenti et sacrorum canonum … –  [Lugdini : Jacobum Mareschal], 1527.

poopywhoreface  asked:

Is it possible to make you laugh? How are we supposed to brighten up your day?

Honestly…. I spend a lot of time looking through illuminated manuscripts, and it’s pretty difficult to remain dour when

I just….

and then….

Medieval art is not particularly high-brow. And I didn’t even post any of the NSFW images….

If you like weird marginalia you should definitely follow DiscardingImages. It’s well-cited, and never fails to brighten up my day!

Also highly recommended: The Luttrell Psalter. Just, like…the whole thing.


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!

MsC0533 En14

-Lindsay M.

Weird hands

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.


UV Magic!

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:

“As you 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.

Originally posted by outdoorsculture



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?