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Amazing Engraved Plates of a Huge Party in Strasbourg, 1744

Louis XV may not have been the most popular king, but when he fell ill and was near death in 1744, his subjects across France prayed dutifully for his recovery.  In October 1744, once he was well enough, the king visited Strasbourg, and the town threw what looks to have been a huge party to celebrate his visit and convalescence.  There were processions through the streets, races, dances, and even fireworks.  These events were all faithfully chronicled by J. M. Weis, "graveur de la ville de Strasbourg," and produced in the nearly monumental format of a large folio with two-page spreads. This is a fete book – a royal souvenir for a royal celebration.

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The MU Libraries copy is still in the original binding, and if you follow our Adopt a Book program, you may recognize it.  William Heyde III recently donated funds to support conservation work, and Jim Downey at Legacy Bookbindery made the repairs the volume needed.  Once the book was in stable condition, we were able to send it to the MU Libraries Digital Services unit. So, thanks to a generous donor, a conservator, a couple of rare book librarians, and several digital imaging and metadata experts, this book is now available to the world.  We think that in itself is cause for celebration!  

Get a closer look at the plates or page through the text in the University of Missouri Digital Library.  Be sure to use the zoom feature to take in the details – the variety of tiny figures that populate these prints is really amazing.

Weis, Johann Martin, d. ca. 1795. Représentation des fêtes données par la ville de Strasbourg pour la convalescence du Roi; à l'arrivée et pendant le séjour de Sa Majesté en cette ville. Inventé, dessiné et dirigé par J. M. Weiss, graveur de la ville de Strasbourg. Paris: imprimë par Laurent Aubert [1745]. MERLIN catalog record

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Leigh Hunt letters

Leigh Hunt was a poet, journalist, and essayist who was influential among the Romantic poets, including Byron, Keats, and Shelley.  Special Collections has a small collection of Leigh Hunt's correspondence dating 1823-1959, with the bulk of the material falling between 1831 and 1861.  The collection contains letters to and from various correspondents, including Leigh Hunt's oldest son, Thornton. A large portion of the correspondence consists of transcribed letters, for which the originals are lacking.

These materials are in the process of being digitized.  We're sharing a few scans below; look for the rest in the MU Digital Library soon.

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A fragment of a fifteenth-century gradual

The Fragmenta Manuscripta collection is again the source of this week's feature.  It's a fragment from a fifteenth-century gradual in Latin, possibly from England.  Note the square musical notation on a four-line staff.  The staff here agree that we particularly like the face in profile added to the large initial.  More information at the Digital Scriptorium.fm153-music-from-gradual.

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Fragments from a Book of Hours

No librarian is happy to see a broken book, but we're lucky to have eight leaves from this sixteenth-century book of hours.  Two of the leaves in Special Collections were originally part of John Bagford's Fragmenta Manuscripta collection – meaning they were removed from the book by the late seventeenth century.  Bagford's fragment collection passed to St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the eighteenth century. The collection was sold in 1861 to Sir Thomas Phillipps, then to Sir Sydney Cockerell in 1913. In 1957, the collection was bought by the bookseller William Salloch, and it came to the University of Missouri in 1968.

The remaining parts of the manuscript (it's not clear how much) were eventually broken around 1920. In the 1980s, Margaret Howell, then director of Special Collections, noticed a set of six leaves on the market, and she was able to reunite at least a portion of this beautiful book of hours. 

All eight of the leaves are cropped in the same manner and show signs of damage from flooding in London in 1846. The manuscript was produced in the style of Geoffroy Tory, an influential type designer of the Renaissance.  This humanistic script may look printed, but it's all written by hand. See more in the Digital Scriptorium: Fragmenta Manuscripta #212, #213, and the six additional pages.

For a great recent overview of the topic of book breaking and its implications for libraries, see This Just In: Breaking Bad by David Whitesell at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

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Medieval Chess Problem

How about a little brainteaser with your Monday manuscript?  This is a chess problem from a fourteenth-century manuscript. It's Fragmenta Manuscripta #194.  The entire Fragmenta Manuscripta collection is online at the Digital Scriptorium.

Chess problem

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