Error processing SSI file

Books on Palaeography from the
Arnold Semeiology Collection

THOMAS ASTLE (1735-1803)
The Origin and Progress of Writing. Second edition.
London, T. Bensley for J. White, 1803.

First published in 1784, this work of the English antiquarian Thomas Astle is a major contribution to the literature of palaeography. Writing, claims Astle, is that which distinguishes civilized man from the savage. Concerning the nature of writing, he maintains that "all marks whatever are significant by compact, and . . . letters do not derive their powers from ther forms, but from the sounds which men have agreed to annex to them." Of particular significance in Origin are the sections on mediaeval writing, still of use to students. Portions on oriental languages, however, are now out-dated. The work includes 31 plates showing numerous alphabets and scripts. Astle has added to this second editon an appendix on the radical letters of the Pelasgians, or Etruscans, discussing their derivation from the Phoenician alphabet. Astle was also active throughout his life as an indexer, his most important works in this area being catalog of the Harleian manuscripts (1759) and a catalog of manucscripts and charters in the Cottonian Library (1777). (Alston III (2) : 850; Galland p. 9; Guyot p. 434; Westby-Gibson p. 14)

Alphabetum Grandonico-Malabaricum sive Samscrudonicum.
Rome, Press of the Congregation, 1772.

To Support its missions in the Middle East and Asia, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, an administrative body of the Roman Catholic Church, produced a series of books giving basic Christian texts in a variety of non-western languages. This particular title from that series contains an extended essay on the languages included, Malayalam and Dravidian, by Clemente Peani (d. 1782). Included also are the customary texts of the Lord's Prayer, Ave Maria, Apostles' Creed, and Decalogue. It is introduced and edited by Giovanni Cristoforo Amaduzzi (1740-1792), Italian classicist and superintendent of the press of the Congregation. (NUC 10:377 (NA 0202536))

JEAN MABILLON (1632-1707)
De Re Diplomatica Libri VI. Tertia atque nova editio.
Naples, Vincenzo Ursini, 1789. 2 vols.

A work which virtually created the auxiliary sciences of history, including diplomatics, palaeography, sphragistics, and chronology, De RE Diplomatica first appeared in 1681. The book is the product of learned dispute between Mabillon, a member of the Benedictine Congregation of Saint Maur, near Reims, and Daniel Papebroech (1628-1714), one of the Bollandist editors of the Actra Sanctorum, concerning the genuineness of certain Merovingian charters. In the process of defending the charters, Mabillon gives a detailed history of the Latin script, and demonstrates the way in which the handwriting of his day developed out of the capital Roman letters. He also gives methods for deciphering various manuscripts hands. Included in this third edition are extensive notes by the philologist Giovanni Adimari, Marquis of Bumba. Mabillon is also know for his Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Benedicti (Paris, 1668-1702), and Annales Ordinis S. Benediciti, begun in 1703 and completed after his death by René Massuet and others. (Gralland p. 116; Graesse IV:318; LC 91:511)

ANDRES MERINO (1730?-1787?)
Escuela Paleographica.
Madrid, Juan Antonio Lozano, 1780.

Noted Spanish calligrapher and scholar, Merino follows a well established tradition in palaeographical writing, drawing on the work of Jean Mabillon, and the Spanish palaeographers Cristóbal Rodriguez (1677?-ca. 1735) and Esteban Terreros y Pando (1707-1782). The bulk of Merino's work, like that of Rodriguez, consists of facsimilies of old Castillian, Catalan, and Valencian texts, some being in Latin, to which a transcription and commentary by Merino have been appended. Space is given to a consideration of alphabets, and signs and contracations in Gothic, Saxon, Runic, Ulfilan are deciphered. Merino also deals with hieroglyphs on old Spanish coins, and devotes a noteworthy chapter to Gothic and Moorish coins. (Cotarelo 706-3; Bonacini 1168; Palau 9:110)

Palaeographia Graeca.
Paris, Apud Ludovivum Guerin [etc.] 1708.

With this work Montfaucon, a member of the Benedictine Congregation of Saint Maur, La Daurade, France, created the science of Byzantine palaeography. The work illustrates the entire history of Greek writing. Of special interest are Montfaucon's discussions of variations in Greek letter forms, the use of abbreviations in Greek manuscripts, and the process of diciphering archaic writing. Still basic in its field, Palaeographia has been modified chiefly by the invention of photography and the discovery of Greek papyri in Egypt. Montfaucon's knowledge of Greek manuscripts is also evident in his texts of Athanahius, Origen, and John Chrysostom. He also helped to lay the groundwork for scientific archaeology in his Les Monumens de la Monarchie Françoise (Paris, 1729-33) and L'Antiquité Expliquée e Representée en Figures (Paris, 1719). (Brunet 3:1863; Galland p. 127; Graesse IV:591; Westby-Gibson p. 136)

L'Art d'Ecrire Reduit à des Demonstrations Vraies et Faciles.
[Paris?] 1760.

In a series of sixteen plates, this work seeks to provide the geometric proportions of the three scripts (ronde, coulée, and bâtarde) used in seventeenth century France. One of the more eminent calligraphers of his time, Paillasson gives for each of the plates an explanatory text. The plates were engraved byAubin (fl. 1740-1760). Prepared for publication in Denis Diderot's Encyclopédie (Paris, 1751-72), the extract appears in slightly varying formats, this copy having sixteen pages and sixteen plates. (Bonacini 1322; Marzoli p. 145)

Compendio del Gran Volvme de l'Arte del Bene et Leggiandramente Scrivere Tvtte le Sorti di Lettere et Caratteri.
Venice, Heirs of Marchio Sessa, 1578.

Chancery script of Giovanni Battista Palatino

Known in his time as the "calligrapher's calligrapher," Palatino first published this work in 1540 under the title Libro Nuovo. Especially noted for its samples of chancery scripts, the work includes examples of non-western scripts, as well as hieroglyphs and cipher alphabets. Palatino's fellow-calligrapher Giovanni Francesco Cresci claimed that the plates in Compendio were actually the work of the engraver Cesare Moreggio. Manuscripts in Palatino's own hand at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and the Kuntsgewerbemuseum, Berlin, vindicate Palatino as the author of his own plates. Despite Cresci's strictures, Palatino remained one of the most versatile and popular calligraphers of his day, his work seeing fifteen editions by 1588. (BMC Italian books p. 485; Bonacini 1342; Galland p. 138)

Interpretamenta Litterarum Signgulariu in Antiquitatibus Romanis.
[Oppenheim, Jakob Köbel, 1510].

Roman grammarian and literary critic, Probus survives only in fragments and in notes taken by his students. The present piece is a compilation of extracts from these fragments, particularily Probus' De Iuris Notarum, a work on abbreviations, especially of proper names, used in legal and historical writing. Appended to the extracts are two brief essays by Pomponius Laetus (6th cent. A.D.?) on Roman magistrates and religious customs. (Panzer VII:488)

Paléographie Universelle.
Paris, Typographie de Firmin Didot Frères, 1841. 4 vols.

The work of a painter and artist, Palèographie Universelle is a an interesting piece of its kind. The 296 plates include specimens of numerous styles of calligraphy, oriental and western. Some of them are accompanied by engraved facsimiles of illuminated miniatures. The accuracy of the various scripts represented differs greatly. Konstantin von Tischendorff (1815-1874), German Biblical scholar, has pionted out that the Greek material in the work is marked by numerous errors and confusion of letters, due to Silvestre's ignorance of the Greek language. More recent scripts are the work's strong point.. The accompanying text is the work of Jacques Joseph Champollion-Figeac (1778-1867), curator of manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Royale, Jean François Champollion (1790-1832), founder of Egyptology, and Jacques Joseph's son Aimé Louis Champollion-Figeac (1813-1894), the director of archives at the Bibliothèque Royale. (Galand p. 170; LC 137:312-313)

Modus Legendi Abbreviaturas [and other legal tracts].
[Strassburg, 1490]

Though usually held to be an anonymous work, Victor Scholderer has demonstrated, on the basis of an acrostic in the text, that this piece is probably by a certain Wernher, of the town of Schussenried, canon of the College of Saint Germains at Speier. A study of abbreviations used in texts of civil and ecclesiastical law, the first edition is probably that of Adolf Rusch (Strasburg, ca. 1475). The edition has been identified as the work of the Printer of the 1483 Jordanus de Quedlinburg, thought by some scholars to be Georg Husner (fl. 1473-1505). (BMC 15th cent. I:140 (IB 2030); Polain (B) 2753)

Return to the introductory page.
Special Collections Home

Error processing SSI file
Last update:  Variable 'LAST_MODIFIED' cannot be evaluated
Page maintained by
Error processing SSI file