Recent Additions to the Wren Digital Library (VII)




B.9.7, S. Athanasii Tractatus

B.9.7, p.1

This volume, written by Emmanuel Bobeni of Monembasia, is the manuscript the Library has owned for the longest time and was given to the college by John Christopherson, Master and Bishop of Chichester who died in 1558 . It was mentioned by Thomas James in Ecloga Oxonio-Cantabrigiensis as being at Trinity in 1600. Trinity’s manuscript collection was further developed in the first quarter of the 17th century by major donations from Archbishop Whitgift in 1604, Edward Stanhope in 1608, Thomas Nevile in 1611-12 and George Willmer in 1608-14. Together, these four men donated a total of 329 manuscripts.

B.5.1, Bible

B.5.1, f.245v

This 12th-century Bible was once at St Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire. The featured page shows the beginning of the Eusebian canons. Eusebius was a scholar who lived in Caesarea and who devised a way of comparing the texts of the four Gospels. The system was typically displayed within architectural-style columns headed by the name of the Gospel. Eusebius divided each Gospel into numbered sections and recorded similar passages in parallel across the columns, enabling cross-referencing.

B.1.30, Isidore

B.1.30, p.47

On the page illustrated here from a volume of the works of Isidore, the scribe has written the letter Z backwards. This would seem to be in order to accommodate the rest of the lettering in red (Zacharias & Elisabeth ambo) within the column. It may be compared with the Z for Zacharias, which was written correctly on p. 19 of the same volume.

Fragments of a 10th-century service book were originally bound in with this manuscript. They can be viewed here.

B.2.35, St Iohannes Chrysostomus super Epistolam ad Hebraeos, etc

B.2.35, f. 43r

This 12th-century volume contains a number of folios where repairs made to the vellum are evident. These repairs were made prior to the writing of the text and the scribe has written around them. There are other examples on f.11r and f.51r.

Parchment was made from animal skin (usually cow or sheep). Its production involved several stages: washing and soaking the skins, scraping away excess hair and then stretching the membrane on a frame in order for it to dry. Holes in the skins sometimes split when the skins were stretched. Since parchment was expensive these holes were usually mended by the parchment maker. The shape of the mending holes on this page indicates that the repair was made by the parchment maker (and not the scribe) as the holes made by the needle have been pulled into oval shapes as part of the drying process.

The entire Wren Digital Library can be viewed here.





Bindings in the Spotlight (6)

Suidas Graece, VI.18.25, upper cover

Jean Grolier (c.1489-1565), originally from Lyons, is remembered today as a bibliophile who put together an extensive collection of books with specially commissioned fine bindings. Most of his books were printed in Italy (often Venice) or Basle and the bindings were usually from Milanese and Parisian workshops.

This Milanese binding in morocco, decorated with medallions or plaquettes, was an early 16th century addition to Grolier’s collection. Plaquettes are impressions made in relief. The stamps are produced by casting in a mould from a wax model. The first plaquettes were produced in Italy from the mid-15th century and were used for decorating presentation book bindings, but also for larger items such as furniture.

Grolier was the first to apply plaquettes to book bindings for a private library and his collection contains some of the best examples of this form of decoration. Grolier’s books were also the first to be decorated by medallions made by contemporary artists. The upper cover has Abundance and a Satyr by Fra Antonio da Brescia (1487-1513) and the lower cover has The Judgement of Paris by the artist signing Io.F.F. The plaquettes retain some of their original colouring and are surrounded by a tooled, gilt lozenge.

The volume was given to the Trinity Library in memory of alumnus and manuscript collector, Henry Yates Thompson (1838-1928).

Suidas Graece, VI.18.25, lower cover