Cataloging Conversations

[One of the delights of being the manuscripts cataloging librarian for the Schoenberg Institute is hearing from researchers and scholars who use the collection and and updating our catalog to reflect the new information we receive.  ~Amey Hutchins]

Earlier this year, the digitization of the Schoenberg copy of William de Conches’ Philosophia mundi and Hugh of Saint-Victor’s Didascalicon (LJS 384) caught the eye of Erik Kwakkel, a member of the faculty at Leiden University who teaches paleography and codicology.  He thought our date for it (2nd half of the 12th century) was too late.  He recently followed up with a terrific analysis of the manuscript.  To start with, he identified three contemporary hands in the manuscript.  Here is an image of the page where the second hand begins:

Based on the characteristics of the three hands, he dated the manuscript to circa 1150, the very beginning of the range we had given.  The hands are archaic, with features that are more typical up to 1100, but it can’t be much earlier than 1150 because of the dates of the author.  Erik’s analysis also led to a change in the place of origin for the manuscript.  When Larry Schoenberg purchased the manuscript at auction at Christie’s in 2000, Christie’s was offering it as a French manuscript.  Erik, looking at letter forms such as e with flag at the tongue and the curved foot of the tironian note for et, concluded that all three of the scribes (and therefore the manuscript) were German.  In addition to improving our knowledge and description of the manuscript, the change in location adds interest to this item, because the new, more specific date is more significantly early for a copy written outside of France.  Many thanks to Erik!

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