The best quills are plucked in springtime from the left wings of live geese?
These are among the fascinating art-historical facts revealed in the new Cornell University Press title, "Introduction to Manuscript Studies," a beautifully illustrated book that was a decade in the making.
Chicago's Newberry Library offered a summer institute in Latin paleography in 1998, where the book's authors, Raymond Clemens, of Illinois State University, and Timothy Graham, of the University of New Mexico, decided to write an accessible guide that makes images of medieval manuscripts and other teaching tools available to graduate students and general readers alike.
"This is a highly useful compendium for students, providing practical and well-illustrated information on how to read and evaluate medieval manuscripts," said Katherine Reagan, the Ernest L. Stern '56 Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Cornell University Library. "It sheds light on an area of learning otherwise difficult to access outside of specialized tutorials in paleography and codicology."
Among the book's topics: how manuscripts were prepared, decorated, bound and stored; how to read texts damaged by fire, water or insects; determining provenance; and an analysis of such frequently encountered medieval genres as Bibles, books of hours, maps, rolls and scrolls.