The beauty of digitising the past at the Bodleian


The beauty of Taschen facsimiles

cover_va_book_of_miracles_int_1309231705_id_719659I really do not know how how Taschen manage it – or why, if they can, other publishers cannot. They seem to have the monopoly on the production of (relatively) affordable reproductions of visually-rich works of historic interest. The latest of these to have come to my attention is The Book of Miracles – a facsimile of a stunning mid-sixteenth-century illustrated manuscript produced in Augsburg and dealing with wondrous events in the creator’s ancient and medieval past, present, and – as suggested by the Book of Revelation – future. (In keeping with the widespread apocalypticism of the time, this last span of time was not expected to be very long).

Thanks to Facebook (by which, through colleagues, I was alerted to the publication of this volume), Amazon (where I added it, in hope rather than expectation, to my wish list), a ‘milestone’ birthday, and a pair of very generous friends, I am now the delighted owner of a copy of this Taschen reproduction. It has joined, in my library, several equally stunning volumes in facsimile: the Nuremberg Chronicle, Andreas Cellarius’s Harmonia Macrocosmica, and a number of volumes of the Blaeu Atlas Maior.

Thank you, Taschen. And in case you’re reading this, a facsimile of the 1550 Latin edition of Sebastian M√ľnster’s Cosmographia would make the perfect companion to these volumes…


The beauty of Wellcome Images

On 21 January 2014 the Wellcome Trust announced that it was releasing the thousands of images in the Wellcome Library’s online image library for personal and commercial use under a Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0. High-resolution images can now be freely downloaded from Wellcome Images for use on blogs like this and in other publications.

To celebrate this wonderful and generous initiative, I reproduce here a page from a late-medieval folded almanac displaying Homo signorum – the man of signs, or ‘zodiac man’.

L0010970 Folding AlmanacCredit: Wellcome Library, London. License: CC BY 4.0.