Teaching with Italian Manuscripts

Recently for the third time Dott. Laura Nuvoloni, Incunabula Cataloguer at Cambridge University Library, taught students on UCL’s Italian Studies M.A. two classes at Senate House Library, using library materials. She wrote:

The star of the small but intriguing collection of manuscript books and fragments from Medieval and Renaissance Italy is MS288, a humanistic miscellany of educational 25vtreatises, including Paulus Vergerius, De ingenuis moribus ac liberalibus studiis, from the library of Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence (1837-1914). The manuscript was identified as in the hand of the celebrated Paduan scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito (1433-1511) and dated to around 1455-1456 by A. C. (‘Tilly’) de la Mare. This book is a testimony of the intellectual interests of Italian humanists and their wealthy patrons; by contrast, a Breviary, written and illuminated in traditional Gothic style, is a reminder of the relevance of daily religious practice to both members of the clergy and lay individuals in medieval and Renaissance Italy (MS904). 

These and other manuscripts and fragments proved to be useful aids when describing the different quire organisations and the various ruling techniques that scribes used when preparing parchment or paper manuscripts for copy; they also provided material examples of the development of formal and cursive scripts for texts in Latin and Italian vernacular alike.  Bound volumes also provided different binding examples. Two unassuming paper manuscripts, containing tables and documents relating to communal tolls and taxation in Florence, Pisa and Argenta between 1423 and 1579, were of particular interest to me as they not only provided examples of different hands, both formal and cursive, and of bindings on leather over pasteboards with blind-tooled decoration and on parchment over paperboards, but also first-hand information on contemporary prices for paper, parchment and pigments (MS3; MS15).


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