A Professor’s Personal Copy

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 39/52

  
Regiomontanus, Tabulae directionum et profectionum; University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 172, pp. 146–47

Johannes Müller von Königsberg (1436–76), better known as Regiomontanus, was a Central European astronomer whose peripatetic career brought him into dialogue with some of the key humanist thinkers and patrons in the period following the fall of Constantinople in 1453. He was one of the founders of modern observational astronomy; his works exerted a profound influence on Nicolaus Copernicus and were used by Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama as navigational aids. As we’ll see, this particular manuscript turns out to be quite closely linked to Regiomonatnus’ activity. But first, some background.

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You can’t visit the exhibition — but you can hear the talk! (and order the catalog)

nick_herman_talk

There was great excitement at the opening of the Penn Libraries’ exhibition, “The Making of the Renaissance Manuscript,” in February. Curator Nicholas Herman gave a compelling gallery talk to a spellbound audience, and it was sure to have a robust audience, especially when the Renaissance Society of America came to town in April.

Alas, fate had other plans. The library closed in March as the nation grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Renaissance Society’s meeting was also cancelled.

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Who was Michele Zopello?

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 35/52


Michele Zopello, Litterarum simulationis liber; University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 225, fol. 1r

One of the masterpieces of the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection at the University of Pennsylvania is the presentation copy of a work on cryptography made for Alfonso da Borgia (1378–1458) during his three-year reign as Pope Callixtus III. The text is fascinating, as it provides an unpublished and otherwise unknown insight into Renaissance systems of cyphers.

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That’s a Bullarium

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 33/52


Bullarium Augustinianum (Collection of Augustinian Bulls); University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Codex 85, fol. 1r, with border here attributed to the workshop of Giovanni Pietro da Cemmo (doc. 1474–1507)

The manuscript we are looking at today—another University of Pennsylvania manuscript—is a collection of papal decrees and bulls pertaining to the Augustinians, a mendicant order that expanded  alongside the Franciscans and Dominicans from the thirteenth century onward. The compilation begins with a series of older texts combined into a sprawling bull outlining privileges for friars of the order, the Dum fructus uberes.

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Question of the Week: “What will you do when he comes at you with the sickle?”

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 31/52

  
Denis Faucher, manuscript additions to Hendrik Herp, Speculum perfectionis (Mirror of Perfection), Venice: Sabio, 1524; University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Codex 1620, fols. 1v, miniature of a Nun on a Cross, and 3r, miniature of the Mememto mori, both by Denis Faucher, after 1524

As we approach the end of October, we interrupt our regularly scheduled blog posts to bring you a seasonally appropriate reminder of the grisly fate that awaits us all. This week, we delve into an item from the University of Pennsylvania’s holdings (not formally within the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project but closely associated with it, and now accessible through the main BiblioPhilly interface), a sammelband or hybrid volume that consists of a printed book sandwiched between two manuscript gatherings. Despite the extraordinarily morbid imagery present in these hand-written and illuminated sections, the book in question has been little studied to-date, despite the fact that we can name its author (who was also its scribe and artist) with great precision.

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A Leopard that Changes its Spots: A Hand-Decorated Incunable from the Library of Jean Chardalle

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 28/52

Penn Libraries call number: Inc A-1232 Folio
Saint Augustine, De civitate Dei (City of God), University of Pennsylvania, Inc A-1232 Folio, fol. 13r

This week’s BiblioPhilly manuscript “discovery” is a bit of a misnomer on all three counts, as it A) amplifies an observation previously made by another scholar, B) relates to an item held at the University of Pennsylvania–an institution not officially included in the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis grant–and C) concerns an early printed book, rather than a manuscript! Nevertheless, it is worth including in the blog since A) the discovery was enabled by an innovative online project, B) the item will be included in next year’s post-BiblioPhilly exhibition at Penn, and C) the incunable in question was decorated by hand with high quality initials and bar borders. 

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