Monday, December 27, 2010

Interesting Antiquarian Books - including Medieval Music


POPE, Alexander. Essay on Man. In Epistles to a Friend. Epistle I. Corrected by the Author. London: J. Wilford , 1733.

The four epistles of the Essay on Man were published successively on February 20, March 29, May 8, 1733 and finally on January 24, 1734. The first editions of the first three Epistles appear in variant states, the priority of which is not always clear, but none of which are of significance textually (except Griffith's issue "I" of Epistle I, which Pope revised).

The 'friend' to whom the Epistles were addressed was Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke. But this poem was not simply a statement of Bolingbroke's deistic philosophy. It has been referred to as 'a public, social and classical poem', a poem that takes into account Newton's impersonal universe but also interweaves a 'tissue of images from older and more human conceptions' (M. Mack, Works, Vol. III) and which examines the human condition against a Miltonic, cosmic bacground. Although Pope's perspective is well above our everyday life, and he does not hide his wide knowledge, the work is suggestive, dramatic, exciting, and sometimes even comfortably concrete: "Each beast, each insect, happy in its own: / Is Heaven unkind to Man, and Man alone?"

Pope died on May 30, 1744. He left his property to Martha Blount. With the growth of Romanticism Pope's poetry was increasingly seen as outdated and the 'Age of Pope' ended. It was not until 1930s when serious attempt was made to rediscover the poet's work.

Cabbalistic and Theosophicum 1760

Music Scores

berkeley music library

Thesaurus musicus, being a collection of the newest songs, with a thorow-bass to each song for the harpsichord, theorbo, or bass-viol, to which is annexed a collection of aires, composed for two flute.
(London: J. Heptinstall, 1693-96)

The Berkeley Theory Manuscript, (Jan 12, 1375)

Libro Sexto QVE Diego Pisador (b. 1510).
Libro de musica de vihuela (Salamanca: 1552)


Albertus Magnus and Michael Scot, De Secretis Mulierum 1702
This volume also included Michael Scot’s De Secretis Nature

A classic compilation on magical secrets in this case on the secrets of women and the secrets of nature, two texts which were among the most sought after in the 15th and 16th centuries. The content of the two works especially focus on women and childbirth, charms, advice and recipes for all sorts of occasions, magical cures for men and beasts, etc. Both authors derive much of their learning from a wide range of Classical and Mediaeval scientific and magical sources, such as Aristotle, Hermes, Galen, Albertus Magnus and his pupil Henry of Saxony. Together they constitute an exhaustive collection of secret knowledge related to the Grimoire tradition.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oldest surviving Ethiopian Gospels now being studied

Garima Gospels

Radiocarbon testing has revealed that a pair of illustrated gospels kept in a remote monastery in Ethiopia may have been made as early as the 4th century and are perhaps the oldest surviving illustrated Christian works in existence. The Garima Gospels were first reported on in the 1950s, but it has only been within the last couple of years that scholars have been able to examine the work and help conserve it.

In 2006 the British-based Ethiopian Heritage Fund began a project to examine the Garima Gospels, which have been kept at the Monastery of Abba Garima in northern Ethiopia for hundreds of years. Scholars were allowed to take two parchment fragments from the manuscripts, and testing at Oxford University revealed that they date back to somewhere between 330 and 650 AD. It had previously been believed that the texts were no older than the twelfth century. According to legend, the manuscripts were brought to Ethiopia from Constantinople by Abba Garima in the year 494.

Jacques Mercier, a French specialist in Ethiopian art, believes that the manuscripts may have been created around 600. Both of them contain several pages of vivid illustrations typical of early Byzantine style, which include a depiction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, a portrait of Saint Luke, and images of over twenty different birds.

Michelle Brown, a former British Library curator, tells the Art Newspaper that, “the Garima Gospels case vital light upon early Christian illuminated manuscript production and upon the role of sub-Saharan Africa…It is the sort of model the inspired such vibrant later Ethiopic art and is an important witness to the way in which the churches of the Christian Orient both absorbed the courtly Christian culture of Constantinople and developed their own voices and styles.”

The texts also received some conservation work, which was done in the monastery, as the texts were not allowed to leave its premises. Blair Priday of the Ethiopian Heritage Fund explained to the Daily Mail, “all the work on the texts was done in situ and everything is reversible, so if in future they can be taken away for further conservation we won’t have hindered that. The pages had been crudely stitched together in a restoration in the 1960s and some of the pages wouldn’t even turn. And they were falling to pieces. The Garima Gospels have been kept high and dry which has helped preserve them all these years and they are kept in the dark so the colours look fresh.”

The Ethiopian Heritage Fund was established in 2005 to undertake conservation of manuscripts and paintings in churches. They have worked on other medieval treasures, including two 15th century paintings of St. Mary. Priday added: ‘Ethiopia has been overlooked as a source of these fantastic things. Many of these old Christian relics can only be reached by hiking and climbing to remote monasteries as roads are limited in these mountainous regions.”

Discovery of Earliest Illuminated Manuscript - June 2010

Extreme Bookbinding - A Fascinating Preservation Project in Ethiopia - 2008

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Various Old and Ancient Books - Part 6

The Comedies of Terence 1765

Treasure of Traffick 1641

Institutions of Christian Religion by John Calvin 1536

Lady Elizabeth Carew
The Tragedie of Mariam, The Faire Queene of Jewry. 1613
Written by that learned, vertuous, and truly noble Ladie, E. C.
London: Printed by Thomas Creede, for Richard Hawkins,

Elizabeth Carew, viscountess of Falkland, wrote The Tragedie of Mariam not for public performance, but for reading or private presentation. It was printed in this first edition by Thomas Creede, who printed the second “Newly corrected” quarto edition of Romeo and Juliet in 1599 and other Shakespeare plays. This is the first published play by an Englishwoman.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Banned Books Exihibition

And now for something a little different....

This is a new Banned Books Exihibition that has been put online.

It comes from the University of Otago.

Otago is a province in the South Island of New Zealand.

This is the PDF Poster


Monday, March 8, 2010

Various Old and Ancient Books - Part 5

A Set of Fifty New and Correct Maps of England and Wales by Herman Moll, 1724
Herman Moll (c1654-1732) was a German emigre (though some references say Dutch) who came to London about in or before 1678 and worked as an engraver. He later set up his own firm and became, around 1700, the foremost map publisher in London. He often complained that other publishers copied his work.

An authentic 14th century church book of early music

Metamorphoses by Ovid
French edition published 1702
English edition published 1632 by John Lichfield at Oxford
Read Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid is a narrative poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world. Completed in 8 AD, it has remained one of the most popular works of mythology, being the Classical work best known to medieval writers and thus having a great deal of influence on medieval poetry.

Manual of Agriculture, Paris 1764

Leaf from a Manichaean Book
Manichaean priests, writing at their desks, with panel inscription in Uighur (Language)
Manuscript from Khocho, Tarim Basin, Western China
8th/9th century AD.

About Me

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I love books, I love reading them, I love owning them. I love History and Maps, Genealogy, Archaeology, and Sci Fi (Star Trek & Stargate) and Biographies.