Our Logo

August 18, 2016 in Design, Manuscript Studies, Uncategorized

The Design

Logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (colour version)

We progress with writing the history of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, aided by materials in the Archives.  While we prepare interviews with people who have contributed to its origins, survival, and accomplishments — soon comes the Interview with our Layout and Font Designer (responsible, for example, for our multilingual font Bembino), then an Interview about the choices for the design of the Illustrated Catalogue, with others to follow — we advance with showcasing some more highlights.

Now is the turn of our Logo, with reflections about its Origins, its Design, its Evolution, its Uses, its Intentions, and its Meanings.  We still think that it’s beautiful.  No wonder we haven’t felt any need to change it.  Do you like it, too?

All in Black & White and also All in Color

For Every Time There is a Reason

The Research Group on Manuscript Evidence employs certain variations upon its logo.  The line-design remains the same.  The selected colors for its versions vary, just as the colors of nature will vary according to the lights of dawn, day, twilight, and night, as well as other factors influencing perception.

And so.  Black-and-white.  Colors (Red, White, Blue, Yellow).  Greyscale.  Depends upon purpose.  The choices used to depend, in part, upon cost of printing, but the world of digital publication has changed that practice enormously.

The original design (1989) is black-and-white.  The color version (2000) adopts specific choices of colors, including white.  Here we tell how and why.

Logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence in Monochrome VersionLogo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (colour version)








Early Modern Models

Deciding to make a logo for the research project, as the work gathered momentum and contacts extending beyond the region of its specific location at The Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (long before its resources became anywhere near accessible, even for a price, on the internet, which also awaited its birth), we looked among the various coats of arms which its principal book-collector Matthew Parker (1504–1575) employed at different stages and in different states, reflecting changes in his career and status.  These arms appear, for example, in stamped impressions, often gold-stamped, on the covers of books in his collection.

Directing our attention to them as sources of inspiration, the then Librarian gave instructions for the preparation of pencil rubbings of the 2 front runners.  This was done, and here they are.  They represent the forms of Parker’s arms on the bindings of 2 of his printed books:  Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Archives Y-7-2 and E-S-Par-18.

Pencil rubbings of Matthew Parker's coats of arms on bindings for some books. Here: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, printed books: Archives Y-7-2 and E-S-Par-18. Rubbings by Mildred Budny.The lower form shown here, displaying Parker’s device of single star and key, also appears in a black-and-white photograph of the back cover of another of Parker’s printed books at Corpus, Archives G.3.7.

Publications with Our Logo

That photograph is reproduced as Plate 16 in our first co-published book:

Front cover of 'Matthew Parker and His Books' by R.I. Page (1993), a co-publication of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, with photography by Mildred Budny

Front Cover, designed by Medieval Institute Publications

Title Page, designed by Medieval Institute Publications, for 'Matthew Parker and His Books' by R.I. Page, with Photography by Mildred Budny, co-publishe by Medieval Institute Publications in association with the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Title Page, designed by Medieval Institute Publications

Matthew Parker and His Books.  Sandars Lectures in Bibliography Delivered on 14, 16, and 18 May 1990 at the University of Cambridge by R. I. Page, with photographs by Mildred Budny (Kalamazoo:  Medieval Institute Publications in association with The Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1993).

The list of our Publications describes this work.

The upper form of Parker’s arms in the pencil rubbings appears, for example, in Plate 1 of the same publication, from a painted initial B (for ‘Biblia’) opening the inventory of Parker’s books in the Corpus Christi College copy of the Parker Register:  MS 575, page 1.

Similar forms occupy the opening initials of Parker’s printed editions of medieval texts, as illustrated in Plate 43a–b and 44a of the same book.  In brief, the form is familiar to us.

In the mid-2000s, someone senior accused us of “stealing” Parker’s arms.  As we sat together and compared line-for-line, he admitted that Parker did not have a copyright upon his arms, and that, moreover, our version — as we had planned from the start — did not reproduce it completely, while adapting for newer and electronic forms of presentation.

That experience leaves a passing bad taste, although the retraction of condemnation is helpful.  Our choice of model was directed by the Librarian at Parker’s College, and we followed the directions, leaving scope for adaptation for new purposes.

The Logo in Colors

In 2000, responding to a request, our Director chose colors for the logo.  The color version does not supplant the original monochrome version of the logo, but offers a variant for it.

Logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (colour version)

Our Director explained the choices in a letter to an erstwhile Donor, who had requested a colorized version of the logo for a first issue of our Bulletin.  (That issue had to be aborted at a late stage in production, and the publication had to wait for different provisions, including proper design and layout.)  A copy of the letter, dated 27 February 2007, resides in our Archives.

We quote the best parts:

“Your good question about the RGME logo has given me the chance to reflect on the new colors and their meaning, and to describe the thought-process which directed their design.

“The design of the logo itself, in black-and-white, emerged as we formed the Group in Cambridge.  It takes inspiration from our dedication then mainly to Matthew Parker’s collection, as its point of departure was one of the several devices which  he used as archbishop of Canterbury (and stamped upon the covers of some books).  The design also draws from other elements of our commitment to studying the legacy of the past with the best expertise we could assemble from the impressive array of knowledge and techniques of the present (including computer-generated techniques), as an informed way of heading clear-sightedly into the future.

“Your own generous offer to produce and to edit a Bulletin for the Group, and your vision in determining that it should be printed with quality and in color, gave the inspiration and opportunity to contemplete [sic] the logo in color. Over the past months, we have tried out many versions, using a wide range of colors and combinations.  I found it essential to view or ‘test’ them over time on various scales and in various lights, natural and artificial, to try to assess the best ‘performance’ overall in impact and ‘message’, in multiple conditions. . . .

“As with a heraldic device or flag, the ensemble ought to be unvarying, or as unvarying as we can make it.  The ‘black-and-white’ version takes its background from the stock on which it is printed, as an ‘outline’ for the device, but for the color version we should try to keep all the colors consistent, including the white on which the other elements are set.

“The white itself is one of the colors.  While the stars resemble suns in a starry heaven having more than one solar system, the other colors emulate the red, white, and blue of Old Glory, as well as the Tricolor of France, and invoke their mutual associations with independence of spirit and with ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’.

“So, while the Research Group remains firmly rooted to its origins in the Old World, and continues to strentghen these links, the choice of colors now for its logo gives homage to the New World, which has given the Group a haven.”

The Design

Front Cover of ShelfLife, The Bulletin of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, Number 1 (Winter 2006), including a photograph of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 197B, folio 1 recto. Photograph joint copyright of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College and Mildred Budny.Page 37, with added border for Web, from 'ShelfLife: The Bulletin of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence', 1 (WInter 2006). 'About Our Logo', by Mildred Budny, with an illustration of the color version of the logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, designed by Mildred Budny and Leslie French, with an account of its design and significance.Besides the personal letter published in part here, our Illustrated Bulletin gives an authoritative account of our logo, the choices for its design, and its iconographical import.

A feature article for the Research Group Home Page in the first issue of ShelfLife: The Bulletin of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (Winter 2006) tells “About Our Logo” (Page 37), “designed by Mildred Budny and Leslie French”.  Although unsigned, this article, like all the other unsigned articles in that issue, was written by Mildred Budny.  We commend the full text for your consideration.

Also, a few copies of the issue have emerged in the archives of the Research Group, and may be ordered for your perusal.  Please contact the director@manuscriptevidence.org, as Editor-in-Chief of Publications.

Here we summarize the account.

“The design of our corporate logo drew its inspiration from a device from the personal arms used by Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury under Elizabeth I. . . . His personal arms comprise (in lay terms) three six-pointed stars on a chevron between three upward-turned keys, which have heart-shaped handles and turn their wands to the viewer’s left. . . .

“This source of inspiration for our logo reflects the origin of the Research Group as an international scholarly society during our work on the funded Research Project, mostly devoted to manuscripts collected by Parker, at Corpus Christi College.  Our design, however, does not follow his heraldic requirements, as we developed an emblem more suited to the requirements of modern typography and electronic printing.

“We designed the logo initially in black and white, but when the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence moved its principal base to the United States and became a nonprofit corporation, we chose its colors. The specific red, white, blue, and yellow emerged as we reflected upon the different elements and their ensemble.  The colors are intended also as homage to our mission.  Recognizing that stars, as self-luminous objects, represent suns within their own systems in the universe, we observed that bright yellow would be required for, or deserved by, the stars or suns within our chevron band of celestial blue.  It is important that in our realm there is more than one star alone.  Similarly, multiple locks, doors, and other troves would require more than one key, not necessarily of one size to fit all.  The white ground reflects our dedication to the pages that, among other media, carry the written words which form both a central grounding for, and constant focus of, our study as well as its dissemination, for example in ShelfLife.

“In our book, the iconography of the logo carries its own meaning from the combination of assembled elements.  With our invited Honorary Associates, we recognize, admire, and encompass stars in our scope.  With our dedication to research, attention to evidence, and encouragement of feedback to improve our results, we may hold or seek some keys, which in turn can unlock doors, barriers, or gateways to knowledge and the many treasures that it can endow.  It is within those keys that the heart of our mission is given its ground.

—— Quoted from [Mildred Budny], “About Our Logo” in ShelfLife (2006), page 37.

The Colors in Play

2000 Poster in polychrome lettering for the 'Canterbury and the Bible' Symposium at Douglass College of Rutgers University

2000 Poster for ‘Canterbury and the Bible’ at Rutgers University

The logo in color began to appear on Posters for various Events organized by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence.

The color version does not occur on the 2000 Poster (shown here).

Nor — because of printing costs, in the days of differential costs for black-and-white and for color — does it appear on the 2001 or 2002 Posters, which appear in black and white.

2001 Poster for the Inaugural and Celebratory Workshop on 'The Dating Service or the Dating Game? Problems and Potential of Dating Materials from the Early Medieval Period', laid out in Adobe Garamond

2001 Poster for ‘The Dating Service or the Dating Game?’ at The College of New Jersey

2002 Poster in monochrome for the 'Form and Order' Symposium at The British Museum.

2002 Poster for ‘Shaping Understanding’ at The British Museum

Our archives reveal that the first appearance of the logo in color on our Posters accompanied the 2003 Colloquium on “Innovations for Editing”.

2003 Poster for Colloquium on 'Innovations in Editing Texts from Antiquity to Enlightenment', laid out in Adobe Garamond

2003 Poster for ‘Innovations for Editing’ at The Ohio State University

Afterward, the color version became more frequent as a presence on our Posters.

Posters with Text & Illustrations

The Posters by turns included illustrations and solely focused upon text.  Examples of both forms appear customarily in the sets of Posters for our Sessions at the Annual Activities at the International Congress on Medieval Studies.

1) With illustrations

Poster for "Medieval Writing Media" Congress Session (13 May 2011)

2011 Poster for ‘Medieval Writing Media’, Year 1

Poster for "Medieval Writing Materials" Congress Session (12 May 2012)

2012 Poster for ‘Medieval Writing Media’, Year 2

Poster for "Material and Craft Aspects of Book Production" Congress Session (11 May 2013)

2013 Poster for ‘Medieval Writing Media’, Part I, Year 3

Poster for 'Medieval Writing Materials' Session at the 2013 International Congress on Medieval Studies, with layout in the font Bembino

2013 Poster for ‘Medieval Writing Media’, Part II, Year 3











2) Mainly Text

Sometimes the Poster focuses upon the names, titles, location, time(s), host institution, sponsors, and other textual information for the event.

2013 Poster for ‘Current Issues in Middle English Palaeography’

3) With Others’ Logos and In Pairs

When the event is sponsored with another organization, as with many of our Congress Sessions, their logo might appear, with permission.

Sometimes, as in such cases, we design the Posters in pairs.

For example, for a pair of co-sponsored Sessions in 2013, showcasing the logos of both sponsoring organizations, the Research Group and the Societas Magica:

Poster for "Astrology and Magic" Congress Session (7 May 2013)Poster for "Material Culture of Magic" Congress Session (7 May 2013)








And, in a pair for co-sponsored Sessions in 2016, displaying the fraternal twins who represent the crusading mascots of The Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida:

Poster for 'Crusading and the Byzantine Legacy" Session 1 of the RGME MEMS Sessions. Poster set in RGME Bembino.Poster for 'The Medieval Balkans as Mirror" Session 2 of the RGME MEMS Sessions. Poster set in RGME Bembino.








Symposia and Related Events

Sometimes we prepare “twinned” posters for a single event, when the offerings of images are so plentiful and inspiring.

Examples include our 2013 Symposium.

2013 Poster 1 for the Symposium on 'Identity and Authenticity', laid out in RGME Bembino and illustrated with images courtesy of De Brailes Medieval Art LLC and David W. SorensonPoster 2 for "Identity & Authenticity" Symposium (22-23 March 2013)








And our 2016 Symposium.

Poster 1 for the 2016 'Words & Deeds' Symposium at Princeton University, with 4 images from the Otto Ege Collection, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Photography by Lisa Fagin Davis. Reproduced by permission. Poster set in RGME BembinoPoster 2 for the 2016 'Words & Deeds' Symposium at Princeton University, with 2 images from the Otto Ege Collection, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Photography by Lisa Fagin Davis. Reproduced by permission. Poster set in RGME Bembino








And our 2020 Spring Symposium (which had to be cancelled)

2020 Symposium "From Cover to Cover" Poster 2

2020 Symposium Poster 2

2020 Symposium "From Cover to Cover" Poster 1

2020 Symposium Poster 1










The generosity of our contributors encourages us to display their images as beautifully, as resonantly, as possible. We thank them for their inspiration. We look toward the next stages.

Please let us know any suggestions you might have for improvements.



Gold stamp on blue cloth of the logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence. Detail from the front cover of Volume II of 'The Illustrated Catalogue'Our logo, stamped in gold, adorns the front covers of both volumes of our largest co-publication to date: The Illustrated Catalogue. It stands upon the blue canvas ground of the side-panel of the cover for Volume I (the Text volume), and the red canvas ground of the cover for Volume II (the Plates volume).

The cover design is the creation of our co-publisher, Medieval Institute Publications of Western Michigan University, and its designer Linda K. Judy.

That publisher has transferred the distribution of the Illustrated Catalogue to the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence in 2016.

And so we created a special Promotional Offer for the set of volumes, because our nonprofit educational publishing establishment does not have such overheads as may beset most academic publishers these days.  Plus, we are generous.

We celebrate the Promotional Offer and its opportunities of finding Foster Homes and Forever Homes for our Illustrated Catalogue.

Front Covers for Volumes I & II of 'Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: An Illustrated Catalogue' by Mildred Budny, with the title of the publication and the gold-stamped logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, co-publisher of the volumes

Also, we celebrate the design of our Logo.  It seems to have been right from the start.



Booklets relating to the process and progress of designing Posters and other materials with the Logo have emerged:

Our ‘Web’ Logo

In celebration of our website, our Font and Layout Designer, Leslie French, designed a web version of our logo.  In framed form, it has stood on the front page of the WordPress site since the launch in 2014.  Here it radiates in full:

The Web logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, setting an upright key against a webbed design, plus the web-address of the official website

Logo2 with Full Web

As we prepare the upgrade and redesign of the WordPress site in 2020, we consider making revisions to the presentation of our logos.

Watch this space.  If you wish to offer comments or suggestions, please place your Comments here, or Contact Us.