Seminar on the Evidence of Manuscripts (November 1993)

October 22, 2016 in Manuscript Studies, Seminars on Manuscript Evidence, Uncategorized

“Professionals’ Views of Manuscript Writing: A Workshop”
Parker Library, 1 November 1993

Page 1 of Invitation Letter for Workshop on 1 November 1993 at the Parker Library on 'Professionals' Views of Manuscript Writing'

Page 1 of Invitation Letter for 1 November 1993

Page 2 of Invitation Letter for Workshop on 1 November 1993 at the Parker Library on 'Professionals' Views of Manuscript Writing'

Page 2 of Invitation Letter for 1 November 1993

In the Series of Seminars and Workshops on “The Evidence of Manuscripts”
The Parker Library
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
2-page Invitation in pdf with 1-page RSVP Form

The previous Workshop in the Series considered

“British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius A.iii”
The British Library
9 August 1993

Face to Face

This special occasion brought together manuscript scholars, practising calligraphers inspired by medieval manuscripts, and some of the manuscripts themselves.  What’s not to love?

Show&Tell Op:  Bury Bible, Eadmer’s manuscripts, Missal of Saint Augustine’s Abbey, and some other beautiful books:  Meet Your Fans!  To seek Your Autographs is What We Do!  P.S.  We know what Your Handwriting Looks Like.

Read On, Dear Reader.

[First published in 22 October 2016, as Mildred Budny reviews the event and its setting among the many events and activities of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence

Update: A Research Group Seminar the next year examined challenges of manuscript fragments, including some specimens on loan from the collection of our Associate Toshiyuki Takamiya:

More than 2 decades later, the Takamiya Collection moved to the Beinecke Library at Yale, where it finds a welcoming home.

  • an exhibition at the Library showcases highlights of this collection together with selected manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library: Making the Medieval English Book, on display from 1 September to 10 December 2017,
  • an associated conference on 6–7 October 2017 focuses on the scope of the collection, with contributions by numerous experts (including some Associates of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, among them Toshiyuki Takamiya himself): Conference, and
  • a published catalogue illustrates and describes the collection:  Raymond Clemens, Diane Ducharme, and Emily Ulrich, A Gathering of Medieval English Manuscripts: The Takamiya Collection at the Beinecke Library (Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, 2017).]

The Plan

Dated 15 October 1993, the 2-page Invitation Letter (shown here and downloadable here with the 1-page RSVP Form) provides the Menu for the Food for Thought.

We plan to hold a workshop on Monday, 1 November, devoted to calligraphic techniques in medieval manuscripts and their modern descendants.  We hope that the workshop might provide a chance to gather the professional expertise of both manuscript scholars and practicing calligraphers.  We will mainly concentrate upon early medieval Latin scripts produced in England in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and some modern counterparts.  We hope you might attend to give your advice and help.

As always,

We aim to run the workshop on informal lines, as a round tale.  This will give plenty of opportunity to respond to the speakers and ask questions.

The Cast

Michael Gullick will discuss changes in English scripts and scribal techniques between the late eleventh and late twelfth centuries (as in Corpus MSS 23, 86, and 270).

Tessa Webber will comment on the development of Canterbury scripts during the period, concentrating upon the question of the hand of the author Eadmer as a younger and older man (as in MSS 271 and 452).

Mildred Budny will survey images of scribes at work in Anglo-Saxon and early Anglo-Norman manuscripts (as in MSS 389 and 4), to assess their value either as accurate witnesses to contemporary practice, copies of earlier models, or expressions of artistic license.

Leslie Webster will be on hand to comment on the archaeological survival of scribal materials.

Invitation Letter for Seminar on 'Anglo-Saxon Writing Materials & Practices' on 11 January 1992

Invitation Letter for 11 January 1992

An Aside, As We Review Our History

The 2 latter proposed presentations resume subjects raised in some earlier Seminars in the Series, including the first, devoted to

“Manuscript Illustrations as Evidence for Anglo-Saxon Life”
Parker Library, 20 May 1989

“Anglo-Saxon Writing Materials and Practices”
Parker Library, 11 January 1992.

Back to Then

Back to the Invitation in 1993:

Demonstration Session Included

There will be a demonstration of calligraphic techniques and modern examples based on medieval models, including works by Gareth Colgan, Gaynor Goffe, Gerald Fleuss and Emiko Kinebuchi.  Emiko Kinebuchi will speak about her experience of studying medieval Western scripts from a Japanese point of view, through copying their models and developing modern examples for professional use.  Gareth Colgan will be on hand to describe his interest in calligraphy and its medieval tradition, including the Book of Kells.

Problematic Passages and Pages to Consider

We would like to ask for advice on certain problematic passages in the manuscripts, better to understand the specific processes which produced their features.  The session might consider, for example, such questions as:

1) What criteria identify the beginning of ending of a scribal stint?

2) How long might trained scribes take to write scripts of different degrees of formality and complexity?

3) What distinguishes a casual blob of ink from a deliberate dot?

4) How long would medieval inks take to dry on parchment?

5) How often would pens need to be sharpened?

6) What degree of precision is possible — or necessary — for measurements of medieval scripts, nib-widths and the like?

7) Which types of quills were used for different functions, including punctuation marks, flourishes and decorative elements?

As Always

We hope that participants might contribute to the discussion from their expertise and interests.

On Hand, as Customary:  Handwritten Specimens

A number of manuscripts from the Corpus collection will be available for examination during the workshop.  They will include Corpus MSS 2 44, 86, 139, 173, 197B, 270, 371, 389 and 452.  Other manuscripts may emerge for inspection as they occur to us in the course of the session.

Logistics, As Usual, Hospitality Insofar As Possible Included

The workshop will meet in the Parker Library.  We will begin at 11 a.m., break for lunch and continue until about 4:30 p.m.  Alas, we must ask our participants to contribute to the cost of lunch, as our Research Group funds cannot cover it.  To let us know whom we may expect, please fill out the enclosed form and return it to me as soon as possible.


Invitations were sent to:

R.I. Page, Mildred Budny, Tim Graham, Catherine Hall, Leslie French, Nigel Wilkins, Nicholas Hadgraft, Michael Gullick, Tessa Webber, Michael Borrie, Andrew Prescott, Nigel Ramsay, Michelle Brown, Christopher de Hamel, Toshiyuki Takamiya, James Carley, Jenny Sheppard, Christine Fell, Alex Rumble, Malcolm Godden, Richard Gameson, Peter Kidd, Leslie Webster, Gareth Colgan, Gaynor Goffe, Ferald Fleuss, Ieuan Clayton, John Winterbourne, Carole Hough, Emiko Kinebuchi, Tomio Yanagisawa, Joko Horiuchi, Kazuko Nemoto, Elaine Treharne.

Present (according to RSVP forms and other correspondence in the Research Group Archives):

R.I. Page, Mildred Budny, Tim Graham, Catherine Hall, Leslie French, Nicholas Hadgraft, Michael Gullick, Tessa Webber, Andrew Prescott, Michelle Brown, Christopher de Hamel, Toshiyuki Takamiya, Jenny Sheppard, Christine Fell, Alex Rumble, Malcolm Godden, Leslie Webster, Gareth Colgan, Gaynor Goffe, Ferald Fleuss, Ieuan Clayton, John Winterbourne, Emiko Kinebuchi, Tomio Yanagisawa, Joko Horiuchi, Kazuko Nemoto, Elaine Treharne.

Responses, with Reasons

Among the Responses in the Archives, there is an enchanting and completely compelling set of reasons, set out in a handwritten addition on his RSVP form, from Alex Rumble:


a) It is my wedding anniversary!
b) It is term time

This is a man who knows his priorities!

A typescript letter dated “October 20, 1993” from Peter Kidd expresses “regret that I will not be able to attend what promises to be a fascinating day”, due to his teaching duties at the Courtauld. “I very much hope that you will hold similar meetings in the future, in which I will be able to participate”.

He asks:

Would it be possible to record the events of the day in some form, perhaps as ‘minutes’, or as abstracts supplied by the speakers (assuming they are amenable to the idea), and perhaps summaries of the ensuing discussions? Inevitably there will always be interested parties who are not able to attend due to prior obligations to their jobs or families, illness, or prohibitive distance from Cambridge; yet it seems a pity that after you have taken the trouble of gathering together such an interesting group of speakers to discuss such stimulating questions, there should be no record of the proceedings available to those unlucky enough not to have been present.

The pressure of tasks in the last year of the Research Project, which had begun with the new academic year only a month before this workshop, prevented the adoption of so reasonable a plan. There were other burdens to consider and to try to address.

However, by the time the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence had begun the Next Series of Seminars, Workshops, Colloquia & Symposia, upon the move to the United States in October 1994, the practice of providing Abstracts for presentations at the events became a regular feature, in a tradition which continues to this day. See the Abstracts for our Congress Sessions and the Abstracts for Events of various other kinds.

An Enchanting Handout

Looking through the Archives to prepare this Report at long last, we pause with earnest appreciation at the page prepared (unsigned) by Emiko Kinebuchi.  We hope that it would be apposite to cite it here in honoring her graceful contribution.  The page itself is a beauty to behold, laid out in typesetting form.  Respectfully, we transcribe its concise, clear, and graceful message.

Approaching Western Scripts from a Japanese Point of View

1. Introduction
2. Why western alphabets are for [the] Japanese
3. When we first met calligraphy
Typical case
My case
4.How we approach and study calligraphy
5. Disadvantages for Japanese in studying calligraphy
6. An advantage for Japanese in studying calligraphy
7. Why I am interested in manuscripts
8. Where we are now and where we are going
8. Current situation
My desire/wish

An Illuminating Experience

The experience of witnessing the meeting between inspired calligraphers and medieval manuscripts representing their sources of inspiration, even if only some of their sources of inspiration, was moving indeed.  Bring people together with books which they love, and books whose traditions they love and learn from — it does not always happen, but when it does, it is a marvel and an honour to observe.


The next Workshop in the Series on “The Evidence of Manuscripts” considered:

“Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 41: A Workshop”
Parker Library, 11 December 1993

Invitation Letter Page 1 for Workshop on 'Corpus Christi College MS 41' on 11 December 1993

Invitation Letter Page 1 for 11 December 1993

Invitation Letter Page 2 for 11 December 1993

Invitation Letter Page 2 for 11 December 1993