Category Archives: Digitisation

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 Corneliu Arsene 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.

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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.

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

The full Manuscript is available online to browse here.

 

On The Hedgehog

I had the pleasure of attending an event last night as part of the Manchester Kino Festival, O!PLA, Across the Borders, Polish Shots.

The event showcased some incredible short animations from Poland. One in particular caught my eye. DE HERINACIO, ON THE HEDGEHOG by Ala Nunu Leszyńska.

 

The short animation is inspired by the Rochester Bestiary, held in the British Library, a very similar volume to the Aberdeen Bestiary we photographed and blogged about only 2 days ago.

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Rochester Bestiary Royal MS 12 F XIII f.45r British Library

The Rochester text reads;

‘The Physiologue says that a hedgehog has the shape of a suckling piglet. On the outside it is entirely covered with spines. During the grape-gathering season the hedgehog enters the vineyard. And when it sees a good grape, it climbs up the vine and removes that grape in such a way as to make all the clusters fall onto the ground. Then it climbs down and rolls itself over them so that that all the grapes get caught in its spines This is how it brings food to its offspring.’

In the Aberdeen Bestiary, the same is written, in a slightly different manner (also note the mole, one of my favourites from the manuscript);

‘The mole, blind and condemned to darkness underground. Hedgehogs, covered in bristles and prone to roll up in a ball, carry grapes back to their young by impaling them on their spines.

Illustration: the mole is viewed from above, blind and with conspicuous pink paws for digging. The hedgehogs are seen climbing the vine, shaking it and rolling in the grapes in order to transport them home to their young.’

The image also differs slightly, but again shows the same actions, you can clearly see the grapes on the spines of the hedgehogs.

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The Aberdeen Bestiary f.24r

 

Both manuscripts are available online in their entirety, Aberdeen here and Rochester here, with a transcription for the Aberdeen Bestiary available by clicking the page marker on the right.

The Aberdeen Bestiary

Last year CHICC travelled up to The University  of Aberdeen Special Collections to digitise their incredible 800 year old Bestiary.

The fully digitised version is now available online via Turning the Pages. I’ll let the manuscript speak for itself, it is one of the finest we have digitised to date, with some fantastically illuminated creatures and beasts.

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Opening of the Bestiary

Earliest attempts at colour printing in the West on display for the first time

Imaging techniques developed by CHICC have underpinned research in to the earliest attempts at colour printing in the West. Selected prints are now on display at the British Museum as part of a new exhibition curated by British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Elizabeth Savage,  until 27 January 2016.

On the basis of microscopic analysis at the British Museum’s World Conservation and Exhibition Centre and photomacrographs taken by Gwen Riley Jones (CHICC), it has now been confirmed that the British Museum Charles V is the sixth known woodcut – and 20th impression – issued with gold printing ink before the 18th century.

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Attr. Hans Weiditz, Portrait of Charles V (1519), woodcut on vellum from two block (gold, black) with hand-colouring, 35.6 x 20.3 cm. Printed by Jost de Negker, Augsburg. The British Museum, London, 1862.0208.55. Image courtest of the Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care, University of Manchester and © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Detail of Portrait of Charles V (1519), image courtesy of the Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care, University of Manchester and  © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Detail of Portrait of Charles V (1519), image courtesy of the Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care, University of Manchester and © The Trustees of the British Museum. 

 

The exhibition will examine the earliest attempts to incorporate colour into printmaking in the 1400s and 1500s in the German lands—where colour printmaking began in the West. It brings together 31 prints and one drawing, many of which are unique and have never been displayed together before, to present a representative survey of the first century of colour printing in Germany, where the technology developed.

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Dr Elizabeth Savage examining prints at the British Museum during image capture.

Curated by Dr Elizabeth Savage as a result of her British Academy funded research project, it is the first exhibition dedicated to the early history of colour prints in Renaissance and Reformation Germany. Before 1700, colour prints were thought to be extremely rare, if not technically impossible. The few outliers, like Italian chiaroscuro (tonal) woodcuts, are celebrated as visionary and exceptional. But new research has revealed hundreds of previously unknown colour prints. Circulating in thousands (if not tens of thousands) of impressions, colour prints decorated furniture, imitated expensive woods on ceilings, illustrated ideas in books, clarified religious iconography, and, of course, were admired as art.

By tracing technical developments and artistic and market trends across the sixteenth century, ‘German Renaissance Colour Woodcuts’ demonstrates that colour printing was part of daily life in Renaissance and Reformation Germany.

Dr Savage, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, said: “The history of prints is usually in black and white, but early prints were vibrant. Late medieval and early modern German printers pushed the emergent technology of the printing press to its limits in their quest to print colour. They, not the artists, controlled this artistic effect. The British Museum holds one of the world’s largest collections of early colour prints, so this is a unique opportunity to see how printers manipulated different palettes and achieved a range of stunning visual effects 500 years before Photoshop.”

The exhibition is arranged in five sections. Highlights include three of the six woodcuts printed with gold in early modern Europe.

Visiting Admission: Free and open to all.

Opening hours: 10.00–17.30 Saturday to Thursday and 10.00–20.30 Fridays.

Location: Room 90, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG.

Tracts for the Times – Vanity Fair 1877

Newman Archive

We have digitised a number of portraits of Cardinal Newman but this one is a little different from Batch 9.

A chromolithograph, published in Vanity Fair 20 January 1877. Men of the Day. No. 145. “Tracts for the times.” Caricature by Sir Leslie Ward.

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I found this reference to Ward’s caricature in the publication Forty years of “Spy”.

Page 133 – Forty Years of ‘Spy’ – Ward, Leslie – First Published 1915

“Cardinal Newman quite unconsciously placed me in rather an awkward dilemma. At the time when I was anxious to stalk him I heard he was in Birmingham; so I went to Euston Station, and had actually bought my railway ticket when suddenly I caught sight of his Eminence upon the platform. Here was an opportunity not to be missed! I saw him go into the buffet and followed him. He sat down at a small table…

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University Photographs – a Fascinating Snapshot!

CHICC’s latest completed digitisation project has made public a significant number of images from the University Photograph Collection. The images are now available in a new discrete Collection, the ‘University of Manchester Archives Collection’

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The Photographic Collection itself, which is part of the University Archives, consists of several thousand fascinating images of University people, buildings and events, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.  The images provide a rich visual resource for the history of the University and its surroundings.

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This project which was proposed  by Dr James Hopkins, the University Historian and Heritage Manager, will support the University’s History and Heritage Programme which is working to promote the University’s history both to its members and to the wider public audience.  The digitisation of this selection of photographs will enable greater access to, and use of, the University’s historic images for research and engagement purposes.

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Early Medical Printed Illustrations

This month sees the commencement of the ninth annual Manchester Science festival and by happy coincidence we are unveiling in our digital collections images from a recently completed JRRI Seedcorn project ‘Illustrations in the Early John Rylands Medical Collection ’.

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The John Rylands Library holds over 3,000 medical books printed before 1701, however, the catalogue gives minimal information on visual material within the holdings. This digitisation project was instigated by Dr Cordelia Warr to improve the information available on illustrative material within the Rylands early printed medical collections, in order to facilitate teaching and further research.

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The images selected for the project represent a range of disciplines; midwifery, anatomy, surgery and the medicinal use of plants. Research assistant on the project, Dr Hannah Priest, has supplied detailed metadata which accompanies the digital images to further enhance the information available.  The work of Cordelia and Hannah on these fascinating early printed texts will undoubtedly inspire greater interest in the early printed medical collections held by Library. More importantly, it will further a better understanding of the place of illustrative material in medical publications generally, many of which, up to the nineteenth century, were not illustrated or were only minimally illustrated.

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All images Copyright of the University of Manchester.

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Early Medical Printed Illustrations

This month sees the commencement of the ninth annual Manchester Science festival and by happy coincidence we are unveiling in our digital collections images from a recently completed JRRI Seedcorn project ‘Illustrations in the Early John Rylands Medical Collection ’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The John Rylands Library holds over 3,000 medical books printed before 1701, however, the catalogue gives minimal information on visual material within the holdings. This digitisation project was instigated by Dr Cordelia Warr to improve the information available on illustrative material within the Rylands early printed medical collections, in order to facilitate teaching and further research.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The images selected for the project represent a range of disciplines; midwifery, anatomy, surgery and the medicinal use of plants. Research assistant on the project, Dr Hannah Priest, has supplied detailed metadata which accompanies the digital images to further enhance the information available.  The work of Cordelia and Hannah on these fascinating early printed texts will undoubtedly inspire greater interest in the early printed medical collections held by Library. More importantly, it will further a better understanding of the place of illustrative material in medical publications generally, many of which, up to the nineteenth century, were not illustrated or were only minimally illustrated.

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All images Copyright of the University of Manchester.

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