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More medieval fun (online)

Posted on May 20, 2015 @9:32 am by cshriver

Papal bull of Pope Innocent IV

Papal bull of Pope Innocent IV

We’re pretty proud of our library and archival school here at UBC. Rare Books and Special Collections benefits greatly from the talented students that take on co-ops, work learn positions, and special projects here. Our new exhibition, Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books, was curated by current library student, Robert Makinson, and a fellow student (and a great designer) kindly offered to create a web-based exhibition catalogue for the project. You can browse Anne Darby’s site and learn more about medieval manuscripts and the RBSC exhibition here.

Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books is free and open to the public, and runs from May 1-31, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. We hope to see you there!

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How It’s Made: Medieval Manuscripts

Posted on May 19, 2015 @1:04 pm by cshriver

In honour of our new exhibition, Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books, here’s a lesson on how medieval manuscripts were made, courtesy of the exhibition’s curator and a student in UBC’s School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, Robert Makinson.

 How Manuscripts Are Made

Manuscript leaves are usually made from vellum, a term denoting calfskin; other animal skins were also used, however, and these are properly called parchment. Their material makes manuscript pages much thicker and heavier than paper, so they resist tearing and other forms of trauma better, but they react badly to changes in temperature and humidity: this causes the wrinkles and wave patterns you sometimes see in damaged manuscripts.

When the animal had been skinned, the material was submerged in a lime solution for several days, which prepared it to receive inks and pigments; afterwards it was stretched upon a wooden frame to dry evenly. Then pages were cut from the skin, and the artisan used a knife to remove hair from the “outside” of the skin and a pumice stone to reduce imperfections. If you look carefully, you can actually tell which side of the skin you are looking at, thanks to scars, veining, and other marks! Usually, these sheets were folded one or more times, creating what we call folios or quartos; many were gathered and bound together to make the manuscript. The front and back of each sheet were called the recto and verso, respectively.

Image of Book of Hours fragment

Book of Hours, Paris: c. 1510, fragment Av, with several shades of ink

There were several kinds of inks used during the medieval period:

  • Similar to modern inks because they adhere to the surface of the material, carbon gums were used for most early manuscripts, and were made by mixing carbon-based materials like charcoal or lamp-black with a thickening agent like gum arabic.
  • Later manuscripts were usually written with iron galls, which were made by combining tree galls, usually from oaks, and iron from nearly any source. They were much more cheaply made and used almost exclusively in the later Middle Ages, but they can cause more damage to manuscripts and fade to brown over time. Most manuscripts in this exhibition were written with iron gall inks.
  • Red inks were made by pouring acidic substances like vinegar or urine on lead sheets and repeating the process until the desired hue was achieved. The process usually took several weeks, but since red inks were necessary for rubrication, this was a fairly common practice.
  • There are dozens of different medieval recipes for making other colours of ink, and they vary widely in materials and manufacturing processes.

Pigments were used for illuminated manuscripts that feature colourful illustrations. Our collection does not have much illumination, but like coloured inks, these pigments come from a wide variety of sources: some were naturally-occurring compounds, while others were manufactured artificially. Certain pigments have weathered the years better than others, since they can fade, dissolve, or even explode without proper storage conditions!

To see some of these incredible documents in person, please join us for the exhibition Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books: How the Middle Ages Shaped the Way We Read, 1245 AD to UBC, which runs from May 1-31, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

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New exhibition: Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books

Posted on May 15, 2015 @3:33 pm by cshriver

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library announces a new exhibition!

Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books: How the Middle Ages Shaped the Way We Read, 1245 AD to UBC

Image of Bull of Innocent IV, Lyons, 1245, seal

Bull of Innocent IV, Lyons, 1245, seal

This fascinating exhibition tells the medieval and early modern story of the written word using RBSC’s fantastic collection. Two recent acquisitions are of particular note: a papal “bull,” or legal decree, issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1245 (whose seal is depicted at the right); and a textbook used at the University of Paris during the late thirteenth century. But the exhibition also showcases pieces that have been here for decades, such as a single leaf from the Catholicon, a Latin dictionary probably printed in 1460 by Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of typography. We also have a 1331 legal document donated to the library by the Bulwer family, whose ancestors are named in the manuscript and who moved from England to Vancouver in 1887.

The items found in this exhibition also explore the intersection between manuscripts and early books called incunabula (English “incunables”), texts printed during the period 1450-1500: the Biblia Pauperum (“Bible for the Poor”) is a printed book bound in the remnants of a medieval manuscript; and our copy of the Roman emperor Justinian’s Institutes has many annotations added by hand and even has fragments of an old manuscript book in its binding!

These pieces were produced over a period of nearly three hundred years, from 1245 to 1525, and together they tell the story of the written word as it moved towards the forms we use today. But we are part of the story too, moving that history forward as we write in English, French, or any of the other European languages.

You can explore the objects featured in the exhibition through the gallery below, but there is nothing quite like experiencing these treasures in person. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, runs from May 1-31, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

 

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Views of Yokohama Exhibition

Posted on April 7, 2015 @2:33 pm by cshriver

An exhibition of Yokohama woodcut maps from the Tokugawa period is on display at Rare Books and Special Collections from April 1st to 30th, 2015.  This exhibition is part of a series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vancouver’s sister-city relationship with Yokohama.

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster

The exhibition is free and open to the public, and can be viewed 10am-4pm Monday through Friday, and 12pm-5pm on Saturday, April 11th and 18th.

For more information, contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604-822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

Information about other Vancouver Yokohama Golden Jubilee 1965-2015 events are available here.

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Papal bull media roundup

Posted on February 17, 2015 @10:28 am by cshriver

Papal bull of Pope Innocent IV

Papal bull of Pope Innocent IV

More excitement at RBSC over the last few weeks! An extraordinary Papal document that’s nearly 800 years old has come to UBC Library and promises to be a valuable teaching and research tool. The legal decree, called a Papal bull, was written in 1245 and issued in Latin by Pope Innocent IV to the Italian convent of San Michele in Trento. It features the signatures of the Pope and 13 cardinals (including future pope Nicholas III)! Not surprisingly, we’ve been pretty excited about the new acquisition, and so has the media. Here’s a little Papal bull media roundup for your Tuesday morning enjoyment:

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Teleny and Des Grieux media roundup

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:43 pm by cshriver

Des Grieux : The Prelude to "Teleny"

Des Grieux : The Prelude to “Teleny”

It’s been exciting times here at Rare Books and Collections! With the help of PhD candidate Justin O’Hearn, RBSC has scored a coup by acquiring two exceptional examples of early gay literature, Teleny, or, The Reverse of the Medal and Des Grieux: The Prelude to “Teleny,” that share a connection with famed Victorian author Oscar Wilde. We’ve been very lucky that a number of media outlets have picked up the story of this amazing acquisition. Here’s a little media roundup for your reading, watching, and listening pleasure:

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Oscar Wilde Exhibition

Posted on February 28, 2017 @12:35 pm by kferrante

Wilde-exhibitionA new exhibition is on display this month at Rare Books at Special Collections, featuring rare publications of works by Oscar Wilde:

“That mighty love which maddens one to crime,” Teleny, Oscar Wilde, and Decadent Publishing in the 1890s

This exhibition will be on display until January 31, 2014, and is free and open to the public Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604-822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

 

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RBSC holiday hours

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:44 pm by cshriver

Sequoia tree with Christmas lights in front of old Main Library, UBC

Sequoia tree with Christmas lights in front of old Main Library

Happy holidays from the RBSC family to yours!

Just a reminder that Rare Books and Special Collections will be closing for the holidays at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 24, and will remain closed from December 25 through January 1. We will reopen at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 2. Please note that Saturday hours for the spring term do not start until January 31. More information about RBSC’s hours can be found on the UBC Library website.

We hope to see you in the New Year!

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Relive the fun…and the food!

Posted on December 9, 2014 @11:04 am by cshriver

If you weren’t able to join us for Robert Sung’s funny and fascinating talk on December 19 entitled “Food in Transit,” you’re in luck! Thanks to the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the talk is now available to watch online:

EmpressAsia-1922

1922 menu from the CPR’s Empress of Asia

http://www.ikebarberlearningcentre.ubc.ca/food-in-transit-by-robert-sung/

Sung’s entertaining and educational talk included personal stories of immigration, cultural and culinary exchange, and Vancouver’s local food history.

A fourth-generation Canadian, Robert Sung has a passion for culinary arts and history. For over twenty-five years, Sung’s personal and business life have revolved around the food and hospitality industry. As the owner and founder of Robert Sung Tour, Sung provides culinary walking adventures through Vancouver’s Chinatown. He is co-president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, a member of the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee, and serves as an advisor to the Asian Heritage Month Society. Sung is also a contributor to the book Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck, a collection of stories about family gatherings, home cooking, and restaurant outings.

And be sure to visit the exhibition that inspired the talk: “Bon Voyage / Bon Appétit: Menus from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s Ships, Trains, Planes, and Hotels.” Whether you prefer quick eats or fine dining, you’re sure to enjoy this display of eye-catching and mouth-watering Canadian Pacific Railway Company menus dating from the 1890s through the 1980s from the renowned Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection. The exhibition, which will be on display through December 24, 2014, is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Chung Collection exhibition in Rare Books and Special Collections, level one, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

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New exhibition : Dorothy Burnett Book Binding Tools

Posted on February 28, 2017 @12:35 pm by kferrante

Dorothy_Burnett_exhibition-1

A new exhibition is now on display at Rare Books & Special Collections. This exhibition features book binding tools used by one of the first book binders in Vancouver, Dorothy Alcorn Burnett. Dorothy graduated from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts (now Emily Carr University) in 1930. She left her tools, plus a number of books that she made, to the library and we are excited to be able to share this collection, giving a unique glimpse into the fine art of making books.

The exhibition will be on display until April 2015 in the reading room at Rare Books & Special Collections. It is free and open to the public, and can be viewed 10am-4pm Monday through Friday, and 12pm-5pm on Saturdays.

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