Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Boring Jobs and Bizarre Coincidences

   I am plodding resolutely through updating the formatting and graphics in the script samples section of Medieval Writing. This may drive me bonkers, but I guess it is a good thing to do. I have worked my way into the protogothic section. That still leaves an awful lot. There still seem to be plenty of people making use of the site, so it shouldn't look too aged and daggy (unlike its author). I have discovered that some of the examples that I put up fairly early in the piece not only have sad little graphics, but I was also still experimenting with how to present transcriptions and the like. I guess it will come out rather more consistent eventually. I have lots of new stuff to put up, but I am (currently) maintaining steely resolve to tidy up the backlog.
  An odd distraction came up during the week, when somebody in England sent me a picture of a page of a manuscript that they had had in their possession for twenty years or so to ask me some questions about it. It was a liturgical sheet on paper with musical notation in the form of German hufnagelschrift. The odd thing was that it seemed to be an exact match in every way with a leaf I had acquired only a few months ago from the USA; not identical of course - it was a manuscript - but identical in script, notation and every decorative detail. 
A bit of mine

  She emailed the dealer I had bought mine from, and he was equally sure that it was from the same manuscript as the one from which he had sold several leaves. There is nothing odd about the way manuscript leaves from the same book have fluttered around the world, having been split up and passed around at auction and through dealers. It does seem a large coincidence that they should be randomly reunited by email across the world.
  The conversation we had, which involved references to various German websites displaying liturgical manuscripts, was reminiscent of several others I have had in which people somehow want their treasures to be older than they seem to be, and then claim that they have got the oldest whatever-it-is in captivity. Now I think paleographical dating may be a tad overrated, but I do think you go on some sort of Occam's razor principle. Or in modern parlance, if it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck and swims like a duck it probably is not a highly advanced pterodactyl. Just mentioning it in case you think you have the earliest whatsit in the world in your little bottom drawer.

No comments: