Digitisation of Lantern Slides from the Christian Brethren Archive

I am pleased to announce the completion of the digitisation of the lantern slides donated by Echoes of Service to the Christian Brethren Archive. A total of 901 slides are now available to view via the Manchester Digital Collections site and have been catalogued by John McCrory and Jane Donaldson, who provide below a description of […]

via Digitisation of Lantern Slides from the Christian Brethren Archive — John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

Instruction on Measurement with Compass and Ruler – Albrecht Durer

Following on from the recent John Rylands Special Collections Curious Finds blog post, where the Heritage Imaging Team were asked to investigate the pasted over Parabola in Albrecht Dürer’s Underweysung der messung mit dem zirckel un richt scheyt/Instruction on Measurement with Compass and Ruler. 

Multi Spectral Imaging had originally been discussed but as is sometimes the case, on closer inspection, our standard imaging techniques were more than capable of answering the question posed by our Reader.

Also, in this instance we decided to digitise the full volume as we found the contents of particular interest, with its woodcut illustrations of architecture, perspective, linear & solid geometry and the measurements of architectural decoration, fonts and engineering.

It can now be found online as Bookreader Object 19439 at Manchester Digital Collections.

Here are some of our favourites.

A Helice.

A spiral in space.

The mathematical analysis of letters.

The Designer of the Lute: Showing how to plot various points on the surfaces of the musical instrument by marking its shape by means of a string extended from a fixed point on the wall.


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The magnificent Overlord Embroidery at the D-Day Museum


On Friday 11th November CHICC photographers Gwen and Tony visited the D-Day Museum to view the Overlord Embroidery and design a workflow for its digitisation next year. The D-Day Museum has been awarded £4 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable Portsmouth City Council, with support of the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust, to create an international museum to tell the story of D-Day in the 21st Century. The digitisation of Overlord Embroidery will form content for the improved galleries that will tell the story of D-Day – from the planning and build up to the day itself – using objects, interactive material and the perspectives of people who were alive at the time.

We arrived a little early for our meeting at the D-Day Museum, which gave us time to see the promenade and the Southsea Rock Gardens which are within 5 minutes walking distance to the museum. IMG_2634.jpg


Southsea Rock Gardens

Upon arrival at the D-Day Museum we had the privilege of a private view of the Overlord Embroidery, before the Museum opened to visitors. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the Overlord Embroidery, by the brilliance of the colours of the tapestry and the stunning visual effect of the appliqué (my iPhone photos do not do it justice!).


The Overlord Embroidery was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, commissioned by Lord Dulverton, late head of Wills tobacco family, to show the reality of war – not to glorify it. Sandra Lawrence, aged 21, was appointed to produce the original watercolours on which the embroidery is based. The Ministry of Defence provided historical support and advice on how Operation Overlord could be represented in picture form. The Royal School of Needlework produced the embroidery from Sandra Lawrence’s watercolour designs at a total cost of £36,000. The original watercolours were presented to the US Dept. of Defense by the Sir David Wills Charitable Trust in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of D-Day and are now on display in the Pentagon in Washington DC.




The embroidery is truly magnificent, it is 83 metres long, which is displayed across 34 panels, each panel 2.4 x 0.9 metres in size. More than 50 different materials were used during the making of the embroidery – including 320 metres of cording used to edge parts of the design, it is these cording details which gives the embroidery an uncanny 3D effect. This is an important visual feature of the embroidery, and we will design our digitisation lighting methodology to mimic the museum lighting which captures the highlights of the cording to very striking effect. Designing a bespoke lighting methodology, rather than using a standard flat copy style of lighting, will also ensure that the digital images are sympathetic and complementary to the displayed physical object, allowing digital and physical interpretation to comfortably together.

It took 20 embroiderers and five apprentices five years to complete the embroidery, and this is evident in the development of style and techniques used, as you walk along the embroidery the developments in process and methods are clearly visible. Digitisation will take approximately seven days of digital capture on site at the D-Day Museum, with five days post-capture processing and digital stitching back in the studio. We will be documenting our own methods and processes for digitisation both here on the blog, and with a range of engagement activities at the time of digitisation in March 2017.



As soon as our meeting was over we took one last breath of fresh sea air before we began our long journey back to Manchester. I have to say, the train station at Portsmouth Harbour has one of the best parting views of any city that I have ever seen.


On the way back to Manchester we discovered an interesting Rylands link to the local area. John Rylands purchased a property, Corston House, on the Isle of Wight in 1882 (a stones throw across The Solent from Portsmouth) and was a benefactor on the island.

There is a steam railway museum on the island (which the D-Day Museum’s very own staff member, Andy is involved with) which is housed in the old gasworks which were built by John Rylands! After John Rylands’ death in 1888, Mrs Rylands converted Corston House in to a rest home for ministers.

Keep your eye on the blog for more updates on the Overlord Embroidery project in the Spring of 2017.

The Aberdeen Bestiary – site live



Mole detail from f.24r


Back in March last year CHICC travelled up to the University of Aberdeen to photograph their wonderful Bestiary.

Over the course of two days we photographed 345 images, including all pages and details. Given the importance and value of The Aberdeen Bestiary, and the risks associated with taking it out of a controlled environment,the photography was carried out at the Glucksman Conservation Centre in The Sir Duncan Rice Library.

The entire manuscript is now available to view online, with a fantastic website dedicated to the whole project. The site includes all the high resolution images, wonderfully translated text for each page, and a rich history of the manuscript itself.

And don’t miss our last post regarding the panel under the mole above, with the fantastic tale of why a hedgehog has it’s spikes!

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The Lion f.8v


Rylands Gaster Hebrew 2116

This is Rylands Gaster Hebrew MS 2116, we have limited information regarding this manuscript. The content is the “Zohar on Leviticus” with the commentary “Perishat Aharon” by Isaac Aharon ben Meir of Mezhirichi. Produced in Lithuania in the Nineteenth Century and is compiled of different types of paper and written in Ashkenazi cursive script.

When this manuscript was presented for digitisation we knew it would be a challenge.

As you can see, this is an unusually bound manuscript, its greatest dimension is its depth. We are unsure why Moses Gaster bound it in such a way, it wouldn’t make for the easiest of reading.

Digitising Gaster Hebrew MS 2116

Our usual approach would be to firstly photograph all the rectos, turn the item, photograph all the versos and then bring them into correct order on completion of digitisation.

After consultation with the Collection Care team regarding the structure of the manuscript we decided on a two camera technique that we haven’t used before, this way we could shoot both recto and versos at the same time.

This is something that although proved very useful for this particular manuscript and its binding, it would not be suitable for other bound works in our collections.

Here you can see one camera in its usual position mounted on the copystand above the manuscript to shoot the versos. We also have another camera, tripod mounted, at 90 degrees to shoot the rectos.


Whilst Gwen controlled the handling of the manusctipt between captures I could check the images in regards to quality control.


Here you can see how multiple size foams were used to support and follow the spine and text block as we progressed through the manuscript.


Towards the end of the manuscript a slightly different technique was used to support the final remaining pages and board.


Digitisation required a number of sessions.

On completion there were 2356 images, this is the largest manuscript (in pages) that we have digitised to date.

The digitised manuscript has now been added to the Hebraica Collection in the John Rylands Library Image Collections, LUNA. It was so large it has had to be uploaded in three parts as a “Bookreader object”.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


With a little reorganisation and technical adjustment it would be possible for one photographer to digitise the manuscript rather than two.

Next in line is Rylands Gaster Hebrew MS 2117, copied and authored by the same scribe as MS 2116, but a slightly smaller manuscript bound in a similar manner.


Techniques for recovering lost texts

Research Fellow Renate Smithuis and Research Associate Stefania Silvestri, are working on a Catalogue of Codices, Scrolls, and Other Texts in Hebrew Script in The University of Manchester Library.

The Library holds one of the most important smaller collections of Hebrew manuscripts in Europe and this project will create a full, online catalogue compliant with current cataloguing and metadata standards. To support the production of the catalogue, digitisation of a number of manuscripts is being undertaken. All images, included fully digitised volumes, are added to the Hebraica Collection in the John Rylands Library Image Collections, LUNA.

A substantial portion of the Rylands Gaster manuscript collection have already been selected for digitisation, including a number of manuscripts that suffered water damage during the Second World War. The level of water damage varies, some texts are still legible but faint, others have whole sections of pages rendered illegible.

The Heritage Imaging Team have been investigating the best way to recover the text in these volumes, unsurprisingly, we have found that a single solution does not fit all. The aim of this blog post is to demonstrate the different processing options available to researchers. We are researcher-led in the work that we do with Multispectral Imaging of our collections, so if you come across a text you cannot read, please get in touch to discuss your needs in more detail (email: uml.chicc@manchester.ac.uk).

I should note at this point that these examples are not exhaustive and we are always in the process of developing new techniques.

Trials in image processing have been run on pages from Gaster Hebrew MS 1832. The first step of carrying out any specialist techniques is to produce a high resolution ‘standard’ light photographs. These are the images that you can access in high resolution in our online image collections. Often, close inspection at high resolution enables a reader to decipher more than they can read with the ‘naked eye’.

In this example, the first image shows page 1 recto of Gaster Hebrew MS 1832 in ‘standard’ light. You are able to see that there is some faded text on the page but it is extremely faded in some areas:

Gaster Hebrew MS 1832

Gaster Hebrew MS 1832 1 recto standard image

The second image shows a standard high resolution image which has undergone additional image processing in Photoshop. The image has been inverted to help the text show through in certain areas of the page.

Gaster Hebrew MS 1832

Gaster Hebrew MS 1832 1 recto standard image with processing

The third image shows page 1 recto again, a standard high resolution image which has undergone processing in Photoshop to bring out the most faded central areas of the text.

Gaster Hebrew MS 1832

Gaster Hebrew MS 1832 1 recto standard image with additional processing

Here is a detail from each file type for comparison:

The benefit of this approach is that these results can be achieved without any additional imaging of the manuscript and standard photo manipulation software can be used. In addition, once results have been achieved, these can be batch applied to a set of images for an entire manuscript. The results may not be 100% consistent depending upon the range of damage to each page, but if the results are ‘good enough’ it will save many hours of image processing time.


Our next example shows firstly, page 2 recto of Gaster Hebrew MS 1832 in ‘standard’ light, plus an example of the same image which has been processed in Photoshop:

However, with this example we took several further steps to recover the lost text. In this instance, the manuscript has also been imaged using Multispectral Imaging. We now use a Phase One Achromatic IQ260 digital back, iXr camera body and standard lens combined with Megavision LED lighting panels and a filter wheel to capture 17 images at different points along the electromagnetic spectrum. I have included 2 images here, take at 370nm (UV) with a long pass violet filter, and at 448nm (Deep blue) as these single images give the best results. In the infrared wavelength, the text on this manuscript disappeared completely, which suggests that it is an iron gall based ink.


Using multispectral imaging we are able to take our image processing and textual recovery even further. Using ImageJ software I have combined several of the individual wavelengths to create a ‘pseudocolour’ image. This applies false colours to areas of difference across the page. Note the two images below in colour.

The colour results are not attractive to every eye, especially to the colour blind so can be converted in to greyscale. In the examples here, I have added an additional filter using the Channel Mixer in Photoshop to increase the contrast of the text even further.

Here you can see details of all 8 examples described above, click on the image to flick through each detail.

There are obvious benefits of taking every possible step of image processing to recover as much text as possible. However, there are also drawbacks. The manuscript must be subjected to a second round of digitisation using the Multispectral Imaging system, this is not only time consuming, but for fragile items it also increases the possible risk of damage to the physical item. There is additional time required for the photographer to process the images and store the additional data. Metadata must be produced to accompany the new images and to detail the processing work that has been carried out on the images.

Finally depending upon the nature of the damage to the page, a reader may need to consult a combination of 2 or 3 final processed images in order to read the entire page. Additionally, there must be a flow of communication between the reader/researcher and the person processing the images in order to process the ‘best’ results.

Specialists are currently working on software solutions to allow us to present the data to readers which will allow the reader themselves to combine and ‘play’ with images to suit their needs. We will report on developments in this area when they are available. Until then, we will continue to take a ‘triage’ approach to image recovery, assessing each item against the needs of the researcher to take the right steps to uncover lost texts.


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A midsummer night’s dream

We have recently digitised two very charming items from the Rylands Children’s Collections, both of which lend themselves beautifully to a blog post.

The first is an item that I was very excited to come across through a customer enquiry. The volume is Hubert, the cottage youth; : being the sequel to Phoebe, the cottage maid. Hubert is the second in a series of ‘Elegant juvenile’ books of the early 19th century produced by S. and J. Fuller.  The first book is Phoebe, the Cottage Maid which details the daily life of a country girl and the series includes Ellen, or, The Naughty Girl Reclaimed and The History and Adventures of Little Henry. The books are examples of some of the earliest paper doll books, although truthfully, Hubert is less of a paper doll than a paper head who moves through a series of outfits that accompany his story.


Hubert’s sartorial journey

As is so often the case with children’s literature, the series of books are morality tales where good or conforming behaviour is rewarded and less agreeable behaviours are discouraged and repented. As morality tales go, Hubert is relatively straightforward as a somewhat pastoral figure whose clean living, humble but productive life sees him attain his happy ending. Hubert’s dedication and diligence as a worker pays off, allowing him to afford buy the farm his father only rented and his story ends with Hubert enjoying a prosperous and respectable marriage. In fact Hubert marries Phoebe, she of the prequel to his own tale, Phoebe, the Cottage Maid. Unfortunately, Hubert is the only example we have from this series and sadly our copy is incomplete; wanting at least one outfit and a headpiece.

Unashamedly, we have become slightly obsessed with Hubert; we have digitised the entire story to be enjoyed here the plates and slip case are also available to view here. We have also been happily experimenting with making Hubert a little more animated…


Careful Hubert!!


Our second enchanting item, tying in nicely with both midsummer (yes, it is!) and the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, is this wonderful Arthur Rackham illustrated copy of Shakespeare’s popular comedy A midsummer night’s dream.

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This particular volume is from the Alison Uttley Children’s collection. Uttley was the author of the popular Little Grey Rabbit Children’s books and was herself Alumni of the University of Manchester, reading Physics here and graduating in 1906. Here at the John Rylands Library we have the Alison Uttley Papers and a number of books from her personal library.


Alison Uttley via Wikimedia Commons

Arthur Rackham’s illustrations are familiar to many and we already have a number of Rackham’s beautiful illustrations digitised already and available to view in our online collections. Well known for his illustrations of children’s books, Rackham’s distinctive and sometimes rather dark artwork produces some wonderfully ethereal depictions, entirely fitting for Shakespeare’s fairy realm.

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The entire volume can be viewed in all its loveliness here.

All images unless otherwise stated are copyright of the University of Manchester and can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike Licence.


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Revealing Galen’s Simples at UPenn… and a whole lot more

Processed image of the Syriac Galen Palimpsest at Revealing Galens Simples Workshop, Kislak Centre for Special Collections, UPenn

Processed image of the Syriac Galen Palimpsest at Revealing Galens Simples Workshop, Kislak Centre for Special Collections, UPenn


An article published in the New York Times on June 1, 2015, described the discovery of a Syriac manuscript that contained the oldest known translation of Galen’s On the Mixtures and Powers of Simple Drugs. Nearly a year later, scholars, scientists and imaging specialists came together for ‘Revealing Galen’s Simples‘ a workshop and symposium hosted by the Kislak Centre for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. On Wednesday 27th April CHICC’s Carol (Heritage Imaging Manager) Tony and Gwen (Heritage Photographers) travelled to Philadelphia to take part in the event. Here is a brief overview of our time at the conference, and associated meetings, which were truly inspiring and have changed the way we think about the way we work.

Philadelphia on the horizon

Philadelphia on the horizon

We arrived at UPenn on Thursday morning and began our day of meetings with a tour of the SCETI (Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Images) digitisation suite. We met with Mick Overgard and his colleagues and discussed all things digitisation, including some skills swap sessions, they demonstrated the new Capture One Cultural Heritage software capabilities – (a vast improvement on the trial we had tested last year – thanks for the demo Andrea!) and we shared our multi-spectral imaging developments and techniques for imaging gold. A really fruitful discussion around advanced imaging techniques followed and we hope that SCETI might join AHFAP so that we can keep the conversation going. In fact we had so much to say that we had to come back after our next meeting to carry on our conversations!

The team at SCETI are very impressive, highly skilled and very friendly – we couldn’t believe that we came all the way to Philadelphia and bumped into a Liverpudlian though (hi Craig!). We were very jealous of the space the team have to work in, each photographer has their own ‘pod’ and they have given us lots of ideas about how to maximise space in our modest studio. I was also particularly impressed with the presence of a record player and a huge stack of vinyl, great idea!

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Following our meeting with SCETI we met with Dot Porter, Curator of Digital Research Services, and Mitch Fraas, Curator of Special Collections, to discuss digital collections, access, discoverability and engagement. Dot told us about different aspects of her engagement work including a workshop she recently delivered to students at Yale on how to access and download digital content and told us more about her video orientations for manuscripts (watch this space!).

We then met with data geniuses Doug Emery and Jessie Dummer to learn about OPENN, a revolutionary way of delivering Open Access image data. The data is presented in a simple structure that enables you to download an entire manuscript in high resolution, very easily using wget. All of the data on the site is in the public domain or released under Creative Commons licences as Free Cultural Works. This repository is now the home of the Archimedes Palimpsest and the Syriac Galen Palimpsest. The data is presented with long term storage and accessibility in mind, and all data is in a digital preservation format. The interface is not inspiring, but is designed so that anyone can use the data to build their own front-end. As more institutions begin to deliver their data in this way, the opportunities for digital curation are endless.

This meeting was followed by a sit down with Mike Toth, Project Manager for both the Archimedes and Syriac Galen Palimpsest Projects and Will Noel, Director, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies. Following a very quick ‘get to know each other’ we began to discuss potential collaborative projects and very quickly came up with some very viable ideas. We are now, already, in the process of putting pilots for these projects in place. We will announce developments here.

These very inspiring meetings were rounded off with some refreshments at Monk’s Cafe – the home of so many beers, they have their own bible! (From left to right, Doug Emery, Meghan Hill, Bill Christen-Barry, Mike Toth, Gwen Riley Jones, Carol Burrows. Photo by Tony Richards)

After a very fruitful day of meetings, some refreshment was required!

After a very fruitful day of meetings, some refreshment was required!

Day two began with an exclusive look at the Syriac Galen Manuscript itself, with an introduction from Abigail Quandt, Head of Book and Paper Conservation at the Walters Art Museum and lead conservator on the Archimedes and the Syriac Galen Palimpsest Projects. Abigail explained both the processes for dis-binding (so flat pages of the manuscript could be imaged using multispectral imaging) and rebinding the palimpsest for this project, but also how the palimpsest was made in the first place. The pages of Galen’s text were soaked in some kind of acid, milk or lemon juice maybe, to remove the text – rather than the alternative process of scraping off the old text. After being soaked in acid, the pages were coated with a white chalky substance, which is still visible in some places, before the over-text was written. These techniques have a significant effect of the chemical make up of the manuscript, and therefore how it performs under light during multi-spectral imaging.

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Revealing Galen Simples Workshop Group Photo

Revealing Galen Simples Workshop Group Photo

This fascinating introduction was followed by a series of informal presentations and discussions amongst the scientists and the scholars, before the groups split off to do more detailed work in the afternoon. The scholars had the opportunity to work collaboratively, deciphering the text, whilst the imaging scientists compared techniques for image processing. It was very interesting to compare the benefits of different techniques (there is not one techniques which is ‘best’) and also think about what is ‘good enough’ – a question you can only really answer when imaging scientists and scholars are able to work closely together. Open Access data and spaces for cross-discipline scholarship, such as the John Rylands Research Institute, are the key to enable these types of research partnerships.

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During the afternoon workshop sessions, the CHICC team took the opportunity to take a ‘break-out’ session with Meghan [Hill] Wilson, Multi-spectral Imaging Preservation Specialist, Library of Congress. Meghan has trained in advanced camera and spectral imaging system operation, imaging processing software, database management, metadata creation, digital data storage, and object cataloging. As we are finalising our multi-spectral imaging strategy and workflows, Meghan’s advice and expertise was invaluable. We were very interested in the wide-range of applications of multi-spectral imaging, beyond only palimpsests. We invited Meghan to come to Manchester to deliver advance workflow and data management training for our multi-spectral imaging work, to deliver a seminar to share with curators, conservators and researchers the varied uses of multi-spectral imaging, and to collaborate on some of her own research work in to identifying pigments. I am very pleased to say that we have now secured funding for Meghan’s visit and we look forward to welcoming her to Manchester this summer.

On Saturday was the symposium itself, you can view the list of speakers here. The talks included 3 cross-discipline speakers from the University of Manchester, Peter Pormann, Director of the John Rylands Research Institute and Professor of Classics and Graeco-Arabic Studies on The Final Frontier: Galen’s Syriac Versions and Graeco-Arabic Translation Technique, Dr. Bill Sellers, Faculty of Life Sciences on Working with the Data and Dr Corneliu Arsene, Faculty of Humanities on his new techniques for Revealing the Palimpsest. In addition to the Manchester speakers, we heard from a range of historians, scholars, scientists, conservators and data managers in a truly cross-discipline discussion on the subject. There was also another chance to view the manuscript, in the somewhat more historic setting of the Henry Charles Lea Library.

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In amongst all this work we did get a little time to see some sights, starting with the Liberty Bell (see photographers at work), but somehow the work always seemed to carry on in the bar…! We also came across a statue of ‘Barry’ – who it turns out is a distant relative of our colleague Bill Christens-Barry, picked up some fashion tips for Jamie – who was back at the ranch. Met Millie Emery, Doug Emery’s very gorgeous bulldog! And finally ran up the Rocky steps (well one of us did) in a not so sunny Philadelphia! We had an absolutely fantastic trip, it was so valuable to be able to attend this conference first hand and be involved in conversations with the full team of people that have pioneered these important techniques. We have returned to the UK fired up and ready to develop our work on to the next stage. So a big thanks to the John Rylands Research Institute and Professor Peter Pormann’s AHRC funded project ‘The Syriac Galen Palimpsest: Galen’s On Simple Drugs and the Recovery of Lost Texts through Sophisticated Imaging Techniques’, to all at UPenn, and everyone involved in the symposium. And a special thanks to Mike Toth for his continued excellent work in bringing all of these people together.

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New Japanese Maps Added to Our Digital Collections

Following our blog entry in October 2015, Digitisation of Japanese Maps at the John Rylands Library, we are pleased to announce the completion of phase three of the Japanese Maps digitisation project. Over the course of the year 28 maps have been digitised as part of 3 small-scale projects, the images are now available for viewing in LUNA.

Phase one – 24th September 2015 – Japanese Maps Project : 18 maps, 48 images. This project was supported by the University of Manchester Library Digitisation Steering Group.

Phase two – 4th January 2016 – Japanese Maps Project – Part II: 4 maps, 28 images. This project was generously funded by the Japan Foundation.

Within this group of material selected for digitisation one unusual item stands out to me the most; Tokaido bunken ezu – The Road Atlas was published in five volumes in 1690. This is vol. 4 and is only 26.5 cm wide, but has a total length of 7.8 m, and is folded like a concertina screen (26 folds), a common format in Japanese works of art at that time.

Japanese 211 – Tokaido bunken ezu: animated view of 26 folds, 88 images.

Japanese 211 – Tokaido bunken ezu: animated view of 26 folds, 88 images.

Phase three – 11th April 2016 – Japanese Maps Project – Part III: another 6 Japanese Maps, 39 images were made available online. This project was generously funded by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Several of the maps selected for this project are very large (approx. 1.5 m x 1.4 m), fragile and contain enormous amounts of fine detail. Some of the maps were so large it was not possible to capture the entire map in one photograph in our digitisation suite.


Japanese 103 as it is unfolded for digitisation, and refolded

These maps were photographed in sections and have been digitally stitched back together in Photoshop, to allow readers to view a composite image of the entire map. Due to the combination of fine detail and the folds of the map, some of the composite images are not 100% accurate, and we invite readers to cross reference with the single images if there are any areas which are difficult to read.

Animation of single photographs of Japanese 103 that make up the composite image.

Single photographs of Japanese 103 that make up the composite image.

This project was initiated by Dr Erica Baffelli – Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Manchester and supported by external contributors the Japan Foundation and The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation. The completion of the project was celebrated at The John Rylands Library on Thursday 14th April, 2016 with an excellent lecture from Professor Kornicki, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. Professor Kornicki produced the catalogue of our Japanese Collection which was originally published in the Bulletin of The John Rylands Library in 1993.

We hope that this project helps to bring some of the treasures of this collection to light and we look forward to collaborating with researchers on some of the other riches of this rare collection in the future.

                                               Ourania Karapasia & Gwen Riley Jones


Happy Birthday William Morris

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opening of Latin MS 53 ‘Proliani Astronomia’

Today marks the 182nd year since the birth of William Morris, English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist.

The John Rylands Library holds a number of different items relating to Morris, including the above spectacular Latin Manuscript.

The Proliani Astronomia was written in c1478 by Christianus Prolianus, and illuminated by Joachinus de Gigantibus. The Manuscript which combines precise astronomical diagrams with exquisite white-vine borders, exemplifying the synthesis of art and science during the Italian Renaissance.

The Manuscript was formally owned by William Morris., you can quite clearly see similarities between the illumination and Morris’ beautiful work.


A detail of the illumination of folio 24r showing 2 parrots

The full Manuscript is available online to browse here.


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