What’s that thing called?

Did you know that the British Library has a glossary specific to illuminated manuscripts? If you’re like me, you’ve been reading metadata on a record and come across a term that made your eyebrows spike and your head get itchy.  Or maybe it was in one of those big coffee table books filled with beautiful glossy scans of manuscript pages.  Well, now you know where to go to find out what it means.

The Glossary for the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts!

Or you could Google it, I guess. But I like going directly to a source that I know will give me a good definition.  Now then, let’s look at some fun terms!

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Searching for Digitized Manuscripts: The British Library, Part 1

For whatever reason, there are two ways to search the British Library’s vast collection of digitized manuscripts. One is via their Digitized Manuscripts site (DM), and the other is via their Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts (CIM).  There are some items that are in one site, but not the other.  For example, the Cotton Manuscripts (the library compiled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, 1571-1631, which includes the Lindisfarne Gospels) is only available in DM, whereas the Harleian manuscripts are in the CIM.  I have run into issues in the past with searching the DM – I often get an error page, which may mean that the DM is getting phased out in favor of the CIM.  I think this is the case, given the wording on the CIM’s “About” page:

Manuscripts included in the Catalogue:

The illuminated manuscripts in the following collections are included in the Catalogue:Additional, Arundel; Burney; Egerton; Hargrave; Harley; Henry Davis; Hirsch; King’s;Lansdowne; Sloane; Royal; Stowe and Yates Thompson (Oriental, for Hebrew illuminated manuscripts).

Manuscripts in the Additional collection are currently being added to the Catalogue. At the moment they consist primarily of around 675 illuminated miniatures cuttings and Hebrew manuscripts (see Italian illuminated cuttings and Hebrew illuminated manuscripts), Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.

PLEASE NOTE: manuscripts in the Cotton collection are not yet included in the Catalogue.

My rule of thumb is this: if I can’t find it in CIM, I look for it in DM. If I can’t find it in DM, I look elsewhere.  THIS post is going to focus on searching the CIM.

Continue reading “Searching for Digitized Manuscripts: The British Library, Part 1”