Monthly Archives: March 2014

Paper slurry, scissors, and octopusses

One of the things I’ve done during this lovely spring break is look at some watermarks on the medieval manuscripts at Amherst College. Watermarks are fun- the kind of picky challenge that sometimes pays off bigtime but often ends with just the small but fiddly satisfaction of having done something very precise.

I had a few volumes to work through, some of them with easy-to-identify watermarks:

MS3-6f65 copy A flower (MS B 3.6)

MS3-12 copyA branch (MS B 3.12); that’s cm on the tape measure.

One two-volume set (MS B 3.19) had many watermarks: some variations on a cross on top of three mountains, some variations on three circles, some heraldic shields with a fleur-de-lis and a crown, some with initials, some without… I made a chart. I like making charts.

Another made a lot of sense once someone identified it for me:

MS3-11f5c2 copyPart 1

MS3-11f6 copyPart 2

I thought about horned animals, based on part 1, but no luck. Couldn’t make heads or tails of the other part, and before I tried photoshopping them together, I was told that they’re shears, similar to, but not actually identical to, some of these.

And then there’s the last one. If there were such a thing as a were-octopus, this might be a picture of it. Or maybe it’s an early (for Western Europe) and confused picture of a kangaroo. A cross between an aardvark and a jellyfish (though the bunny ears on the side are a problem).

Most likely, while I’m poking through watermarks looking for other things, I’ll find this and suddenly it will make perfect sense.

Or not.

Digital Fragmentology and the Five Colleges

I’ve mentioned before my work with the Five College Medieval Manuscript Digitization Project. It continues to be exciting (borrowed a librarian’s compact purse mirror the other day to work on transcribing the off-printed text on an old manuscript pastedown). Today though, just a micro-post pointing at the blog of Lisa Fagin Davis, who’s doing the metadata for the project (and, full disclosure, is one of my supervisors). Her latest post is about digitally reconstructing texts, and her case involves one of the Ege leaves that’s held at UMass Amherst! Read all about it at her blog.