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Polybius and the Pre-digital Brain

Today we are featuring a manuscript draft made by Friedrich Otto Hultsch as he was editing Polybius’s Historiae. Hultsch (1833-1906) was a philologist of classical languages who published numerous critical editions throughout his career. He made the works of ancient mathematicians available to the scholarly world for the first time. He also wrote a monograph on ancient metrology that focused on Babylonian and Egyptian systems of weights and measures.

Hultsch-stackPolybius was a Greek historian who wrote in the second century B.C.E. His work was lost in the west until the fifteenth century. His work has continued to be of interest ever since as a witness of of Hellenistic Greek history and political theory and of the koine dialect of Greek.

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To make the draft, Hultsch unbound the signatures of the previous edition of made by Emmanuel Bekker in 1844. He interleaved his own research notes, which included text from manuscripts not previously consulted. The draft is a monument to the resources of the human brain before computers.

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The published edition came out in 1867 and is available in the open stacks. We are still researching the provenance of the draft. Perhaps one of his students or descendants immigrated to the United States and had some connection with the University of Missouri.

 

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Posted in Special Collections

Happy Birthday, Gesenius

Today is the birthday of Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842). He was a Hebraist and later a professor of theology at Halle, where his lectures were popular among students because of his irreverent tone toward more traditional approaches to Scriptural problems. He pursued a purely philological approach to Hebrew Scriptures at a time when Biblicists were sharply divided between rationalists and the neo-orthodox.

Gesenius published numerous works on Semitic languages, among which is the two-volume work we are featuring today.tab-210001

Scripturae linguaeque phoeniciae, was published in 1837 in Leipzig by F.C.G Vogel. It treats the Punic and Phoenician languages and includes tracings of inscriptions and coins, the two sources of evidence for these languages. It also included tables that collated the letter forms several other languages, as well as a very learned-looking discussion in Latin.

Now, who wants to join me in “Happy Birthday”? Anyone know it in Punic?

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Scripturae linguaeque phoeniciae..,
by  Wilhelm Gesenius.
Published in  Leipzig,  1837, by F.C.G. Vogel

Rare  PJ419 .G5

Posted in Special Collections

Shells, Snails, and Peacocks

A selection of decorated papers from Ellis Library Special collections is now on display now in Ellis 401.Decorated paper must be one of the most visually striking elements of rare books. They are found as endpapers, pastedowns, and on the covers of books produced in Europe from the 17th century onward. With a little background you can begin to appreciate their textures and patterns, and to identify the papers found in our collection and beyond.

El sacrosanto y ecuménico concilio de Trento Translated by Don Ignacio López de Ayala published in Madrid in 1785  Rare BX830 1545.A4 A7

El sacrosanto y ecuménico concilio de Trento
Translated by Don Ignacio López de Ayala
published in Madrid in 1785
Rare BX830 1545.A4 A7

Of the many kinds of decorated papers, marbled papers are the best represented in our collections. The art of marbling paper was invented in Japan and spread to Europe by the early 17th century. Though no two sheets are alike, certain designs became traditional. These designs are sometimes named after a formal resemblance, such as the “peacock,” sometimes after the country of origin, as the “Turkish” pattern, or both, such as the “French curl.”

Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière Volume 12 by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon published in 1749 in Paris by l'Imprimerie royal  Rare QH45 .B78

Histoire naturelle : générale et particulière
Volume 12
by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
published in 1749 in Paris by l’Imprimerie royal
Rare QH45 .B78

Traditional artisans create these designs in oil-based pigments that float on the surface of water. In a carefully orchestrated sequence, they rake and comb the pigments to rake to achieve a design whose swirls and veins resemble those observed in polished marble. The design “lifts” as paper absorbs the pigment.

Marbled papers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Artists such as Ann Muir create traditional as well as original designs. In a surprising twist, new technology has created a new demand for decorated papers; luxury cases for mobile devices sometimes incorporate them to create a book-like effect.

Vida de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra by Martín Fernández de Navarrete  published in Madrid by la Imprenta Real in 1819 Rare PQ6337 .N27

Vida de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
by Martín Fernández de Navarrete
published in Madrid by la Imprenta Real in 1819
Rare PQ6337 .N27

These and many other examples of decorated papers from our collections are on display now in 401 Ellis and can be viewed between 9-5.

Further Reading
Link to an article by Joel Silver with a bibliography:

http://www.finebooksmagazine.com/issue/0306/marble.phtml

Link to a guide at Washington University

https://content.lib.washington.edu/dpweb/patterns.html

Apotelesmata astrologiae Christianae, by Pedro Ciruelo. Published  in Madrid, by Arnaldi guillelmi Brocarij, 1521 RARE QB26 C5

Apotelesmata astrologiae Christianae, by Pedro Ciruelo. Published in Madrid, by Arnaldi guillelmi Brocarij, 1521
RARE QB26 C5

Posted in Exhibits, Rare Book Collection, Special Collections
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