Yesterday I again met Meistarin Katarina and her apprentice Trini, at the Newberry Library here in Chicago again. She had arranged a behind the scenes tour of the bookstacks and vaults for us with one of the curators.
Before our tour, I had imagined the vaults to look either like an ordinary college library, or the secret library tower in The Name of the Rose. Well, it was both! Ha Ha. It was dark and very chilly. Metal shelves hold all sorts of things, from file boxes of paper records, 20th century book collections from benefactors, all the way back to the medieval books still laying on their sides because the metal cover bosses are still intact. We saw minature books the size of postage stamp, up to HUGE antiphonals, like 20x30 inches. Oh to have taken a notebook to pencil in the call numbers of these things so we can look at them later.
Before our tour, we ordered up a few manuscripts to look at. The Library allows you to take non-flash photos now, but I cant show you these treats on the web because of copyright rules.
This time we ordered an Italian roll of Prayers to St Jerome, c.1350-1400, a c.1173 German Missal, a girdle book, a 1459 book of hours I forgot to take notes on origin, and a 1559 item that was catalogued a roll, but turned out to be a letter on paper. I had to leave after the tour, so I dont know what other treasures the ladies requested after I left.
There is book out there, that I think is THE GREATEST general book on medieval manuscripts EVER. It is "Introduction to Manuscript Studies: by Raymond Clemens and Tinothy Graham. Most of the photo examples in the book are from the Newberry, so before we go, we flip through the book and select the things we want to see.
I havent become a member of the Library yet, although it is not that expensive, but whenever I go, I make sure to hit their bookstore. Off I go, for I have 4 new books to read...