Author Topic: Making Medieval Manuscripts  (Read 4943 times)

Offline Estefa

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Making Medieval Manuscripts
« on: February 16, 2016, 03:27:58 AM »
Just found this on the site of the Fitzwilliam Museum it shows in little animations and short movies the making of medieval manuscripts.

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/pharos/sections/making_art/index_manuscript.html

You need to click on the little pic on the left to start the animation.
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Offline AndyT

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2016, 04:01:57 AM »
Thank you!

Semi-relevantly, there was a bit of good news for British calves and goats last week, but it didn't last.  The House of Lords in its wisdom voted to discontinue the practice of printing our statutes on vellum, in order to save a few bob.  The idea was to get a job lot of Conqueror and an ink jet printer from Amazon, apparently.  However, as so often happens these days, some spare change was found down the back of a sofa, and the wholesale slaughter will continue - much as it has done since Magna Carta.  For more on this ridiculous story, click here.

Offline Moya

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2016, 05:01:56 AM »
Thank you!

Semi-relevantly, there was a bit of good news for British calves and goats last week, but it didn't last.  The House of Lords in its wisdom voted to discontinue the practice of printing our statutes on vellum, in order to save a few bob.  The idea was to get a job lot of Conqueror and an ink jet printer from Amazon, apparently.  However, as so often happens these days, some spare change was found down the back of a sofa, and the wholesale slaughter will continue - much as it has done since Magna Carta.  For more on this ridiculous story, click here.

Andy this is the best summary of the whole shebang I've heard yet. You are great.  ;D ;D ;D

Offline AndyT

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2016, 08:04:25 AM »
<blush>  I may have left out a few nuances.  :)

To provide a bit of context, there are just short of 800 peers of the realm, and they're each entitled to 300 per day attendance allowance, plus travel expenses and use of subsidised restaurant facilities.  So if they all chipped in a third of that allowance the whole business could been seen off in a day.  And they wouldn't even have to travel second class or get their lunch from Subway.  Of course, that naively supposes that they all turn up for work, whereas in the real world there are plenty who don't put in an appearance from one decade to the next.

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2016, 09:29:20 AM »
<blush>  I may have left out a few nuances.  :)
...

No, I think you pretty much nailed it.  :D

"MPs handed the decision to end the practice to peers, who decided on Wednesday to push ahead with the cost-cutting measure." 

Such reformers! Next thing you know, they'll be enclosing the commons and allowing Catholics to hold office, and then the whole thing will have just gone to the dogs. Now, about those corn laws...

Oh, and Estefa. Thanks so much for that very interesting link. And sorry if we hijacked your thread a bit.
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Offline Ergative

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2016, 10:22:38 AM »
I read that the vellum came from animals already slaughtered for meat, etc., so it wasn't as if not using vellum would save animals.
Clara

Offline AndyT

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2016, 12:05:18 PM »
I read that the vellum came from animals already slaughtered for meat, etc., so it wasn't as if not using vellum would save animals.

From William Cowley's website:

"The cattle, goat and sheep skins used for parchment are all obtained from farms where livestock has been reared for wool, milk or meat. No animals are bred to make parchment. The cost of rearing farm animals just for their skins would simply be prohibitive in any case, as typically, the value of cattle hides, sheep and goat skins represents in the region of just 5-15% of the market value of an animal".

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2016, 06:03:44 PM »
Semi-relevantly, there was a bit of good news for British calves and goats last week, but it didn't last.  The House of Lords in its wisdom voted to discontinue the practice of printing our statutes on vellum, in order to save a few bob.  The idea was to get a job lot of Conqueror and an ink jet printer from Amazon, apparently.  However, as so often happens these days, some spare change was found down the back of a sofa, and the wholesale slaughter will continue - much as it has done since Magna Carta.  For more on this ridiculous story, click here.

Around 1990, I worked for about a year or so, as a calligrapher at The Court of the Lord Lyon, in Edinburgh (the Scottish equivalent of The College of Arms in England), where records are held of all the Arms and Bearings that have been granted by the Court, dating back to 1672  All my writing there, was on calfskin vellum with a dip pen. I remember that there were a couple of attempts to abandon vellum for paper, but they were quickly dismissed. I believe that things haven't changed in the intervening period, and that all the old traditions continue.


Offline Moya

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2016, 06:20:11 PM »
Ken, how fascinating!  What was it like to work there?

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2016, 06:42:34 PM »
Ken, how fascinating!  What was it like to work there?

It was really interesting. I wrote on a sloping desk, just like the scribes of old and I was always aware that the finished work would be stored in an archive and would be around long after I'm gone. The vellum was prepared elsewhere, and was bought in, ready for use. For those who have never experienced writing on this surface; prepared vellum is extremely user-friendly and can tolerate considerable alteration with a sharp blade whilst still remaining a great surface to write on.

As my own self-employed business began to grow, time became an issue, and I left after about a year to concentrate on my own work.


Offline Moya

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2016, 07:18:57 PM »
How fascinating. I wish there was a similar place here that would employ me as a calligrapher! I'd love to do this kind of work while growing my own business. Were there many of you working there? Was it a nice modern office or were you like the scribes of old in draughty hallways? Did some of you specialise in painting coats of arms while others wrote, or was it all of you doing all of the things?

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2016, 08:26:32 AM »
This is a brief description of the granting of Arms at The Court of the Lord Lyon, New Register House, Edinburgh.

Once Arms have been granted and recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, they are protected under the law of Scotland. Any infringement of a person's armorial rights in Scotland may be drawn to the attention of the Procurator Fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon, who may mount any necessary prosecution of the offender.

 In return for this permanent legal protection and for the maintenance of the permanent registration of Arms in the Court of the Lord Lyon, Fees are charged to the Petitioner. These fees are made up of the dues to H.M. Treasury, Herald Painter's fees and costs of materials in preparing the Petitioner's Letters Patent. This is his title deed to his Arms, written in a formal script on vellum, illustrating his Arms in full colour, and sealed with the Seal of the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The fees are fixed by Statute, and rise from time to time.


When I worked there, I was one of two calligraphers and there were four heraldic painters. We all worked on a self-employed basis; paid by the job and coming and going as we pleased. New Register House is an old building (don't know the date) and the rooms had a distinct "Dickensian" feel to them. All in all, it was a reasonably comfortable environment. It was a fairly flexible set-up, and I occasionally did some heraldic painting and the artists sometimes wrote in the text under their Coats of Arms. At the time, I was privileged to letter below some heraldic painting by an artist by the name of Romilly Squire. His watercolour work was beyond belief and I'm very proud that my calligraphy was associated for all time, with his magnificent artwork.

This was many years ago, but I have every reason to believe that very little, if anything, has changed there. Traditional values can be very powerful!

If anyone is interested, here is a link to New Register House, in Edinburgh.

http://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/acquiring-arms.html

« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 08:37:19 AM by Ken Fraser »

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2016, 09:19:52 AM »
Fascinating, Ken. Thanks so much for sharing.
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Offline Tasmith

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2016, 02:26:11 PM »
Awesome!  Thank you for sharing!
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Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Making Medieval Manuscripts
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2016, 06:14:09 PM »
I read that the vellum came from animals already slaughtered for meat, etc., so it wasn't as if not using vellum would save animals.

From William Cowley's website:

"The cattle, goat and sheep skins used for parchment are all obtained from farms where livestock has been reared for wool, milk or meat. No animals are bred to make parchment. The cost of rearing farm animals just for their skins would simply be prohibitive in any case, as typically, the value of cattle hides, sheep and goat skins represents in the region of just 5-15% of the market value of an animal".

The very finest vellum is Slunk Vellum which comes from very young or premature calves. Although I've had a lot of experience in writing on vellum, I've only had the pleasure of writing on Slunk Vellum on a couple of occasions. It has a beautiful, translucent appearance which enhances lettering, but is prohibitively expensive at around 70 for a small (A4) sheet. As a lifelong vegetarian, I suppose that I should have been more concerned about its origin, but I'm afraid that writing on such an expensive surface occupied all my attention!
« Last Edit: March 06, 2016, 07:23:27 AM by Ken Fraser »