Introductions and the Medial S/f

Headshot of Dianna Bradley (she/her):
Data Remediation Catalog Supervisor

We decided we would tell you a little about ourselves and the work we do in Special Collections and Archives. I am Dianna Bradley and I have been assisting in Special Collections and Archives for a little over 4 years now. I am a cataloger at FSU Libraries and work on managing our records, including working on data migration and clean-up. I help with special collections cataloging, help researchers with reference requests, and help with managing the reference desk in person in both the Strozier and Pepper Reading Rooms a few times a week. I am also a member of our Inclusive Research Services Taskforce in SCA and love the work we are doing together on that team. I have a bachelor’s degree in history and religion, and a master’s degree in art history: museum and cultural heritage studies, focusing on medieval religious works.

One of the collections I love in SCA is the Carothers Memorial Collection of Rare Books and Bibles. This collection includes some of our favorite highlights including a page from the Gutenberg Bible, a 1560 Geneva “Breeches” Bible, and a second impression of the first edition of the King James Bibles (1611). These are all great examples of items in this collection, but the Carothers collection also includes non-Christian religious texts such as a Qur’an, spelled Koran, printed in 1806.

This Koran (The full title being “Koran: Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mahomet) is an English translation of a French translation from the original Arabic, and this copy is a First American Edition. One of the features I like about this beautiful volume is that it provides a great example of an 1800s printing quirk of using fs throughout the text in replacement of an s. Specifically, f was used as a replacement for the long s (also called the medial s), which originally would have been written like this: ƒ. They look like an f but with a small tail on the end. These long Ss were used at the beginning and middle of words (hence “medial s”) and would even be used in words with doubled Ss – an example being Congreƒs – and the typical letter s is still used for the end of words. Below you can find photographs of the title and contents pages of this Koran where you will see examples of the f used in words like Portfmouth (Portsmouth), verfes (verses), and converfion (conversion).

Image of 1806 Koran Title Page
The Page Reads:
The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mahomet. Translated from the original Arabik into French, by the Sieur De Ryer, Lord of Malezair, and Resident for the French at Alexandria. The whole now faithfully translated into English. First American Edition. Springfield: Printed by Henry Brewer, for Isaiah Thomas, jun. Sold by him at his respective stores in Springfield and Worcester; by Thomas & Whipple, Newburyport, and by Thomas & Tappan, Portsmouth. October – 1806
Here is the Permalink to the source in our catalog

Zoomed in image of the contents page
Here is a permalink to the source in our catalog
Du Ryer. (1806). The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mahomet. (American ed.). Printed by Henry Brewer, for Isaiah Thomas, jun. Sold by him at his respective stores in Springfield and Worcester; by Thomas & Whipple, Newburyport, and by Thomas & Tappan, Portsmouth.

You can come by the Special Collections Reading Room in Strozier and see more of this collection in person any time during our open hours! You can also see an online exhibit of some of the Bibles from the Carothers Memorial collection here: Book of Kings. King of Books: Early Printed Bibles from the Carothers Collection.

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