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Communal Creativity in the Making of the 'Beowulf' Manuscript

Towards a History of Reception for the Nowell Codex

Series:

Simon C. Thomson

In Communal Creativity in the Making of the ‘Beowulf’ Manuscript, Simon Thomson analyses details of scribal activity to tell a story about the project that preserved Beowulf as one of a collective, if error-strewn, endeavour and arguing for a date in Cnut’s reign. He presents evidence for the use of more than three exemplars and at least two artists as well as two scribes, making this an intentional and creative re-presentation uniting literature religious and heroic, in poetry and in prose.

He goes on to set it in the broader context of manuscript production in late Anglo-Saxon England as one example among many of communities using old literature in new ways, and of scribes working together, making mistakes, and learning.

Incunabula in Transit

People and Trade

Series:

Lotte Hellinga

Almost half a million books printed in the fifteenth century survive in collections worldwide. In Incunabula in Transit Lotte Hellinga explores how and where they were first disseminated. Propelled by the novel need to market hundreds of books, early printers formed networks with colleagues, engaged agents and traded Latin books over long distances. They adapted presentation to suit the taste of distinct readerships, local and remote. Publishing in vernacular languages required typographical innovations, as the chapter on William Caxton’s Flanders enterprise demonstrates. Eighteenth-century collectors dislodged books from institutions where they had rested since the sales drives of early printers. Erudite and entertaining, Hellinga’s evidence-based approach, linked to historical context, deepens understanding of the trade in early printed books.

Early Dutch Maritime Cartography

The North Holland School of Cartography (c. 1580-c. 1620)

Series:

Günter Schilder

Winner of the 2019 Menno Hertzberger Prize for Book History and Bibliography

This book is an exposition of an important, yet previously unknown chapter in the history of Dutch maritime cartography. While Amsterdam was developing into Europe’s most vital commercial hub in the seventeenth century, demanding and controlling the production of maps and sea-charts, a major School of Cartography was already flourishing in the so-called ‘Kop van Noord-Holland’ region just north of Amsterdam. This School specialised in the production of small-scale charts of larger areas, including the European coastlines and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Its masters used to call themselves ‘caert-schrijvers’ or ‘map-scribes’ when clarifying their profession. The cities of Enkhuizen and Edam were important trading ports and as such provided an ideal environment for developing into centres of cartography, serving sea-borne navigation.
Apart from the well-known printed pilot guides by Lucas Jansz Waghenaer, the output of these ‘caert-schrijvers’ consists mainly of manuscript charts on vellum. Copies, though few they are, nowadays can be found across the globe. Sea-charts provided invaluable on-board navigation assistance to ship captains. However, another surprising contemporaneous purpose for financing these charts become popular. Rich ship owners and merchants would commission new charts to serve as wall-decoration as well as a reference point for their maritime-related conversations. They feature a decorative lay-out filled with magnificent colours. Moreover, many of these charts are embellished with miniature paintings, certainly making them some of the most beautiful exemplars ever produced by Dutch cartography during its Golden Age.

Edited by Wim van Dongen

Emblem Books

Emblem books from European Libraries (including the National Library of Austria, the university libraries of Amsterdam and Utrecht, the Royal Library in The Hague, the State Museum of Amsterdam, the Print Room-University of Leiden and the Zentralbibliothek, Zürich) as well as from some private collections. Authors include Abraham à Sancta Clara, Alciato, de Brune, Camerarius, Cats, Drechsel, Giovio, van Haeften, Hugo and many more.