The original calf binding of this manuscript has suffered much wear and tear throughout the last four centuries. Beneath the leather on the back of the binding you can see that the wooden boards were covered with paper fragments from a printed book, which tells us that both manuscripts and printed books were victims of recycling during the early days of the printing press. It also shows us that even at the end of the sixteenth century some books were still copied by hand.
This manuscript contains several texts by Arnaldus de Villanova, Aristotle, Rosinus and Raymundus Lullus. Lullus (1232-1315) was a Spanish philosopher who wrote more than 250 texts on various subjects. The scribe and first owner of this manuscript was physician Lorentz Zatzer. Zatzer included two of his own recipes in the manuscript. Whenever he finished copying a certain passage he wrote down his name and the date (see for example fol. 110r Finis Lor. Zatz., vollendet den 1 Apprili Anno 1574). Other owners of this manuscript were Hans Thyle (see binding Han Thyle 160), Cardinal Franz Dietrichstein, Christina, Queen of Sweden, and Isaac Vossius (see also VCF 13).
- Mistakes are made in a split-second. Even scribes who carefully copied their text, a few words at the time, would ultimately make mistakes. Can you give three examples in this manuscript where a part of the text was corrected? Note how the mistakes were corrected.
- Scribes added tools to the page to aid the reader in his or her endeavor to read, find and understand the text. Key “reading aids” are page numbers, running titles, and chapter titles and numbers. However, even decorative elements, such as colored initial letters functioned as aids to find or understand specific information. Make an inventory of all reading aids in this manuscript and deduce, based on your findings, why the reader turned to this book – that is, how the scribe, as he produced the object, anticipated the reader would. What aids are the most important clues for your conclusion? Clue: it helps to differentiate between the functions of reading aids: some helped the reader find information, while others clarified the text. What do the aids present on the page “do” and what does this tell you about how the reader used the book?
- Boeren, P. C. (1975). Codices vossiani chymici. Universitaire Pers Leiden.