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The Collation

As I hope Collation readers know by now, the Folger is committed to openly accessible resources. Last week provided one example of the exciting results from such a scholarly pooling of knowledge.

The story begins with a conference held at the Library on bindings, the culmination of a two-year project creating an online database of images of bindings at the Folger. That database, which Jim Kuhn described here last year, contains over 4,000 images of (mostly) early modern bindings from England, Italy, France, Germany, and the Low Countries, all freely accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The images show not only decorative aspects of bindings, but structural elements as well (a partial list of the fields and the vocabulary used gives you a sense of the scope of the project and how you can search the database). Users can interact with the database in a range of ways, including performing detailed searches, comparing images side-by-side, reading detailed cataloging information about the image and the book, and exporting the images under a CC-BY-NC license.

In wake of the conference and its related tweets, Dr Erik Kwakkel came across the binding database and started browsing it. A medieval book historian at Leiden University, Kwakkel’s current research focuses on twelfth-century European manuscripts, but he also maintains a lively Tumblr and twitter feed full of great images of manuscripts and bindings. So it’s no surprise that he would enjoy browsing the images and that in doing so, his attention was caught by these: 

  1. For a bit more context and for a transcript of the first part of the book, see Oulti Kalkio’s transcription of the Helsinki manuscript of the Theorica pantegni The standard edition of the work, Constantine the African and Ali Ibn Al-Abbas Al-Magusi: The Pantegni and Related Texts, eds Charles S.F. Burnett and Danielle Jacquart (Brill 1994), includes a list of Renaissance print editions and extant manuscripts.
  2. This isn’t the first time Kwakkel has dated an early Liber pantegni, incidentally: he and Francis Newton established the manuscript codex held at the Koninklijke Bibiotheek as having been made during Constantine’s lifetime at his monastery (see the fully digitized copy and a press release describing the discovery).
  3. The Bayerische StaatsBibliothek has a fully digitized copy of the work at


Great post about the digital academic community, and the benefits to scholarship!

Donna Seger — August 28, 2013


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