As my graduate assistantship in the Special Collections & Archives Division nears its end, I thought I’d say good-bye to Special Collections by sharing a few of my favorite items from our collection.
My previous MA focused on medieval religious and intellectual history, and unsurprisingly, my favorite items in FSU Special Collections & Archives relate to that field.
“The Nun’s Book:” Anulus Nuptialis , Vault BT769 .A56
From the catalog: Written in a humanistic hand by a single scribe on parchment. Initials in red with gold, blue with gold and green with gold ornament. Written by nuns in a convent.
Why I love it: Anulus Nuptialis is notable for its binding (thought to be the original Renaissance binding). But I also love its topic. Written by Venetian nuns during the Renaissance, it describes the nun’s mystical union with God. This was a popular theme among medieval religious women, and I love seeing its continuity through the Italian Renaissance. For more information about this volume, see here.
“The Chained Book:” Sermones Discipuli, Vault BX1756 .H448 S4**
From the catalog: Written in one hand, in Gothic cursive script. Rubricated. Contemporary monastic binding, heavy wooden boards with remains of leather covering, brass cornerpieces and 10 brass bosses, clasps wanting; leaves from an earlier manuscript on vellum have been used for linings; hubbed spine exposed; heavy metal ring with three links of chain attached.
Why I love it: The chained book is a show-stopper, and draws attention in every class we brought it out for. More than that, it illustrates a very different idea on the value of books and knowledge than we consider in our age of open access, intellectual freedom, and circulating libraries.
17th century Breviary: Breviarium Romanum, Vault BX2000 .A2 1600z**
From the catalog: Latin text, without musical notation, beginning with last part of Psalm 29 and ending with hymn: Aurora iam spargit polum, and verse. Includes most of the psalms 30-108, 142. Large breviary of the type used by a choir for readings for Church services. Large signatures of heavy paper, stitched together with heavy string, with leather headband sewn over stitching. Covers of wooden boards, covered outside with leather and glued to inside of covers, with parchment endpapers glued over them. Holes and impressions on covers indicate metal ornaments were formerly there. Repairs in folio made with strips of plain or Spanish printed paper and verso strips of musical notation (neumes) glued over center edges of pages near binding. Some pages show erasures with letters printed over them and dusted with a white powdery substance. Rubricated ms., possibly hand-printed or stenciled in large black letters, with verses and sections each beginning with 1 or more red letters.
Why I love it: This breviary is huge! It’s large enough to have been seen and read by a monastic choir during their daily recitation of the Divine Office. I love being able to interact with this centuries old breviary and actually experience how the monks would have recited their daily prayers.
Vellum Antiphonals: Roman Catholic Church Antiphonals, Vault M2147 .M36*
From the catalog: Twelve examples of manuscript music scores used by the Roman Catholic Church in Europe. The texts are in Latin. The music notes are a type of mensural notation. The media is ink on vellum.
Why I love it: During the Middle Ages, vellum was the preferred substrate. Though this antiphonals were made in the 16th century, it is illustrative of the difference between vellum and paper.