Exhibitions

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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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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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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Bon Voyage / Bon Appétit

Posted on May 5, 2014 @10:59 am by cshriver

Empress of Russia menu

“Menu from the Empress of Russia,” 1930 from the Chung Collection CC-TX-225-56-7

Whether you prefer quick eats or fine dining, you’re sure to enjoy Bon Voyage / Bon Appétit: Menus from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s Ships, Trains, Planes, and Hotels, RBSC’s new exhibition 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 until the end of December 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.

Read more about the exhibition and its guest curator, historian Larry Wong, here!

Chateau Lake Louise menu

“Lunch menu from Chateau Lake Louise,” 1929 from the Chung Collection CC-TX-197-10-1

 

 

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Art of the Book open house!

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:47 pm by cshriver

Art of the Book 2013

Destructors 2. Photo credit: Mike Scullen.

This Thursday, May 8, at 5:30 p.m., please join RBSC for an open house that offers a chance to view the delightful and surprising Art of the Book 2013 exhibition and to hear local book artists and members of Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) discuss the works featured in the exhibition.

The open house will take place at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, 1961 East Mall, in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Level 1. Read more about the Art of the Book 2013 exhibition here!

 

 

 

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Exhibition of works by Roy K. Kiyooka

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:47 pm by sromkey

Resistant to mainstream ideas of national identity, artistic success, and artistic conventions, Roy K. Kiyooka’s flexible, unconventional use of language in his poetry voices his Japanese-Canadian ‘inglish’ and questions his Canadian identity in light of the internment faced by Japanese-Canadian citizens during World War II. Kiyooka’s poetry has been anthologized in Canadian poetry collections and in the posthumously published Pacific Windows, edited by Roy Miki. In 1987, his Pear Tree Pomes was short listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award. However, despite his national recognition, Kiyooka remains relatively unknown outside academic and literary communities. In recognition of the twentieth anniversary of his passing, the students of ASTU 400M are showcasing original print chapbooks of Kiyooka’s work and archival material to commemorate his enduring influence and unforgettable contribution to Vancouver’s (and Canada’s) artistic scene.

Hosted at Rare Books & Special on floor 1 of Irving K. Barber Learning Commons, the exhibition runs March 17-31, 2014 and is accessible 10am-4pm Monday through Friday and 12pm-5pm Saturdays.

Roy K. Kiyooka exhibition

Roy K. Kiyooka exhibition

Roy K. Kiyooka exhibition

Roy K. Kiyooka exhibition

 

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The final installment!

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:51 pm by cshriver

Happy holidays from everyone here at Rare Books and Special Collections! As an early Christmas gift, we offer the final student dictionary report from the course English 320: History of the English Language. As I mentioned in last week’s post, the exhibition, The Road to the OED, has been extended until the end of January, so please feel free to stop by to see it when we open on January 2 after the winter break. Hope to see you then!

Walker, John. A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language. London: G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1791. PE25 .R62 V. 315

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

Written by elocutionist / lexicographer John Walker and released in 1791, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor became renowned as the ‘statute book of English ortheopy’ that ‘settled all doubts’ on issues of English pronunciation (Beal). Born in 1732, Walker was an actor who performed in Bristol, Dublin and London with various acting companies. He married a fellow actress, Sybilla Minors, and after his marriage he converted to Catholicism. After 1768 he retired from acting and became a successful teacher of elocution. He became a popular lecturer frequently invited to give private lectures at various Universities including Oxford and Dublin. He wrote many books on elocution but it is his dictionary for which he is most famous. Walker continued to publish books on the English language until his death in 1807.

What makes his dictionary unique is that it features a section tailored for different speakers on proper pronunciation. There are articles dedicated to rules that Irish and Scottish people should observe for correct pronunciation of English, an article for foreigners in learning English, and an article pointing out the faults of pronunciation of London speakers. There is also a section entitled “Principle of English Language,” containing over 558 rules on proper English pronunciation. In the dictionary proper, some words contain numbered parenthesis which refer to different rules of the “Principles.” Each word in the dictionary contains a definition, a pronunciation guide and sometimes a note which addresses controversies on the pronunciation of the word. Unlike modern dictionaries which employ the IPA system of writing pronunciation, this dictionary follows Thomas Sheridan’s 1780 dictionary system. This system syllabifies words and indicates variations of vowel pronunciation with a superscripted number.

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language

To situate this work within the history of English lexicography, Walker’s preface gives credit to predecessor dictionaries of Johnson (1747), Kenrick (1773), and Sheridan (1780) among others. According to Walker, each dictionary is “greatly superior to every other that preceded it” (Walker, iii). However, he is critical of the all the various inconsistencies in these dictionaries. Therefore the purpose of Walker’s dictionary was to provide an authoritative and elaborative work that addresses these inconsistencies. On the spectrum of linguistic prescriptivism and descriptivism, Walker is unabashedly prescriptive. He points out that Sheridan is Irish, and that his dictionary pronunciations lean towards an Irish accent which is incorrect in Walker’s view. His “Principles of the English Language” and various guides for “Just Pronunciation” effectively demonstrate his inclinations towards linguistic prescriptivism.

—        Anthony Bigornia (English 320: History of the English Language, 2012-2013)

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