nineweaving: (Default)
[personal profile] nineweaving
Oh good. The Telegraph reports that the book is being transcribed. Meanwhile, for your puzzling pleasure:








Date: 2017-04-03 01:11 am (UTC)
movingfinger: (Default)
From: [personal profile] movingfinger
Ladies and gentlemen, it's the Shakespeare Needle Drop Game!

Date: 2017-04-03 12:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very lovely!

Date: 2017-04-03 04:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Utterly fabulous.


Date: 2017-04-03 03:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Disgusting--why are they allowing all those bare fingers all over the pages? And these photos must be under bright lighting, not proper archival practice. The whole affair seems wrong. . .

Date: 2017-04-03 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thinking about best practices is shifting. Gloves make fingers and hands clumsy and clumsy hands damage books. Thorough handwashing removes oils and dirt and allows users to handle books delicately, without fumbling.

Not every case will be suitable for gloveless, but I assume no one the owner hs shown it to wore gloves to flip through it while saying, "Wow, Shakespeare, eh?" It looks to be in extremely good condition. The ink hasn't eaten through.

Date: 2017-04-03 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Modern practice is to handle rare books with clean dry hands. Gloves are at absolutely not worn at Houghton or the British Library (, which warns that "Wearing cotton gloves to hold or turn the pages of a book or manuscript actually reduces manual dexterity, and increases the likelihood of causing damage. Gloves also have a tendency to transfer dirt to the object being consulted, and to dislodge pigments or inks from the surface of pages." Bare fingers, please!

I've read a 1532 Pico in Houghton, with great care, bare-handed.

The photos are stills from the three minutes the little book spent being filmed for Antiques Roadshow, in natural light. No one in the last 350 years has thought to handle this artifact with archival reverence—and if it hadn't been brought to light on Antiques Roadshow, it might never have been discovered and preserved.


Edited Date: 2017-04-03 04:39 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-03 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Today I have learned something I hadn't thought to. Good day.

Date: 2017-04-03 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thank you--I didn't know this. However, just because it hasn't been treated reverently doesn't mean we should go on that way. Also, if the story is to be believed, it hasn't been touched in a long long time. As movingfinger says, the ink is in remarkably good condition--as though--in fact--the notebook had NOT been treated badly, ever. I am still suspicious.

Date: 2017-04-03 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glovelessness is a relatively recent thing, so if you hadn't been working with rare books for a little while, you wouldn't know. What was the practice with those Gothick novels you examined?

However, just because it hasn't been treated reverently doesn't mean we should go on that way.

No one said we should. Mr. Haley the appraiser handled it gently and briefly, exposing it to a homeopathic dose of light. Doubtless it has been handed on to experts, on loan.

Also, if the story is to be believed, it hasn't been touched in a long long time.

That's plausible. It could easily been picked up as a curiosity, found too difficult to struggle with reading, and lain unnoticed at the back of a drawer at Caversham Court for centuries. When I visited Blickling Hall a couple years ago, they were just starting to catalog a library of 10,000 books. They hadn't a clue what they had. The archivist unfolded some (I think) late 17th-century) maps for us——let us handle them—–and they looked to be in excellent condition.

As movingfinger says, the ink is in remarkably good condition--

Good early modern ink and rag paper are remarkably tough. And neglect is a great preserver. As long as a manuscript is not exposed to fire, water, vermin, or children with jammy hands, it can go on looking pretty good for centuries.

as though--in fact--the notebook had NOT been treated badly, ever

There's no reason it should have been. Its creator clearly valued it——that neatly sewn binding, those wax seals——and if he carried it around, may have done so in a wallet. After his death, who would read it?

Printed books get far more wear. My favorite First Folio has the prints of muddy cat feet on one page. The forensic evidence is perfectly clear: it leapt onto the book, as cats will do, was knocked off, and then the reader tried to rub the page with a handkerchief or sleeve.

I am still suspicious.

My instinct is that this little book isn't gaudy enough for a hoax. It isn't presenting itself as a lost play or a love letter or anything personal to Shakespeare himself. It's just a geek's notebook. It would been a staggering amount of work—those scores of pages in a tiny tiny hand, that Latin!—for not much monetary gain.

It isn't making my fraud detector go bzzzt.


Date: 2017-04-03 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lots of Twelfth Night in the top photo.

Date: 2017-04-03 04:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And Two Gentlemen in the last.

Date: 2017-04-03 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And Much Ado in the middle. This fellow liked comedies.


Date: 2017-04-03 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In the fourth one there's what looks like an unknown variant from Measure for Measure? "Escapes of wit make thee father of their idle dreams" is from the Folio; does this say "make greatness the father of their idle dreams"?

Date: 2017-04-03 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fifth one, I think. It does look like "make greatness the father of their idle dreams." Envisioning a Fahrenheit 451 in 1642, with the theatres closed, and the notebooker trying to set down what he recalled.


Date: 2017-04-03 05:02 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-03 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
[takes one look at the handwriting]


Date: 2017-04-03 06:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, it's easier than secretary hand. Try reading Shakespeare in manuscript:



Date: 2017-04-03 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just after the "Patience on a monument" bit I saw on the previous post, I've made out another line from Twelfth Night in picture 2: "If I do not, let me be boiled to death with melancholy." That's two quotations to do with melancholy from TN, and two to do with Echo ("the babbling gossip of the air"; "gives a very echo to the seat where love is throned").

In photograph 3, just before the line he's drawn across the page (after which he seems to switch over to Love's Labor's Lost: "Let fame which al hunt after…"), I can just make out the phrase "Colledge of witcrackers," which is more text from Much Ado.

And in photo 4, I can just see another line from Much Ado: "Tire ye hearer with a booke of words."

(This is fun!)

(edited for HTML fail. Curse you, superscript 'e'!)
Edited Date: 2017-04-03 03:02 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-03 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm thoroughly enjoying your discoveries. Many thanks!


Date: 2017-04-04 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So tiny and so beautiful!

Date: 2017-04-05 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would love to master Renaissance and early modern palaeography, but I fear age has done bad things to my eyes!
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