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Red and Green Flags (British History)
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Mick Harper
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6. Purple corners A careful eye can also see where manuscripts have experienced damage. Tears, holes and worn-out bindings are often problems that come with use. One of the worst things that can happen to a manuscript is mould caused by leaving it in a damp place. This can clearly be seen in this manuscript from Leiden University.

I think we're at the University of the Bleedin' Obvious.

Professor Kwakkel wrote:
"On nearly every page the top corner shows a purple rash from the mould that once attacked its skin,” Kwakkel explains. “It is currently safe and the mould is gone, but the purple stains show just how dangerously close the book came to destruction; some corners have actually been eaten away.”

It came dangerously close to someone saying, "Why don't we carbon date the mould, that would be interesting to know." But, alas, this would mean carbon-dating the manuscript and discovering it was a relatively modern forgery. So it wasn't.
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Mick Harper
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7. Expandable books Some manuscripts just did not want to be simple folio after folio. There were books where the pages folded outwards giving it an ‘accordion’ look. Then there was a fad in the early 15th century where scribes were creating folding almanacs. This example, found in the Wellcome Library, was originally created in England between 1415 and 1420. (Wellcome Institute, Archives and Manuscripts, 8932 – English folding almanac in Latin. Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection)

Ah, the Wellcome Library. We must get our hands on that some day.

Some historians refer to specimens like this as ‘bat books’, in part because the pages stretch out like wings, and also because the user would typically carry them upside down, hanging from their belt.

We're now dealing with relatively modern manuscripts, i.e. from the late medieval period, which might well be genuine.

There are several dozen surviving examples of these works, which usually consisted of calendars with diagrams and tables.

'Several dozen'. Not quite enough to be a genre, more than enough to be a scam. Unless 'bat books' have a market all their own. Still, we know they are 'usually' for works of reference. Perhaps we might found out what the other bat-books were used for. Something that requires it to dangle upside down from your belt is your start point.

Kwakkel offers some thoughts on why these books would be created:
These bookish objects are especially interesting from a material point of view. During production, folding almanacs looked very much like a regular book: the scribe filled regular pages with text. However, in a completed state, when the binding was added, the pages were folded in a very clever way, giving them an “unbookish” look.

It would be nice to have a carbon date for the bindings. Why anybody would want unbookish books is not clear to me. Perhaps Erik will explain

The two different states (a small package when closed, irregular dimensions when unfolded) were chosen with care: closed, it was a portable book that could dangle from the owner’s belt, while in its extended state the reader was provided with expansive information at a glance.

Perhaps one of youse guys can explain. A book is easy to consult, a concertina of pages is difficult to consult. But anyway that does it for the seven things to look out for with medieval manuscripts. We prefer to do it a bit more sceptically here but then we don't have mortgages to pay explaining it all to readers and students.
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Mick Harper
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Here's a little gold mine (as in "Are you interested in purchasing shares in my gold mine") I came across yesterday. It's a series put out on the BBC World Service a long time ago but still available here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p033dmzb/episodes/player This is the full list with BBC comments and my own in italics

Elizabeth I Why didn't Queen Elizabeth l marry? A handwritten speech offers clues as to why
If it's the Tilbury speech, it's definitely a fake; it it isn't, it's probably a fake.

Sumer Is Icumen In How did a secular song end up being written and preserved by medieval monks?
The only one I've listened to so far, I'll write about it anon.

The Tracking Satyrs The recovery and restoration of Sophocles' lost play
I'll bet

Diamond Sutra The remarkable discovery of the world's earliest printed book
When it's a world record, hold on to your hats

Leonardo da Vinci Why were Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks written backwards?
Probably to disguise they weren't written by Leonardo

The Lindisfarne Gospels The history of one of the most beautiful medieval books in Britain
They mean late medieval, not early medieval. And not from Lindisfarne.

Codex Sinaiticus The text of Codex Sinaiticus, a hand-written ancient copy of the Greek Bible
We've had a lot of fun with this threadbare hoax

Beowulf The history of the epic
But even more with this one.
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Mick Harper
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A hilarious exchange between Hatty and an old sparring partner of hers. It all concerned a Roman bust in the Metropolitan, New York [she might put up a pic if she is technically able, I'm not]

Hatty wrote:
My complaints were the lack of provenance (it was bought by the Met in 1930 from a private collection), no verified findspot or documentary records, and that the only criterion for dating seems to be the hairstyle

Chapps wrote:
Harriet, what is your point? Yes, the hairstyle dates it. But you seem to think that everything is a fake, so …

Hatty wrote:
The point is a hairstyle is not a scientific dating method. Any sculptor in any period can reproduce a hairstyle. According to the Met's listing, there is no provenance, no documentary refs and findspot unknown. Whether it's even Roman is a moot point.

Chapps wrote:
Harriet, women’s hairstyles are regularly used to date Roman portraits. No, a patrician woman would not want to be portrayed in the hairstyle of a bygone empress, so it’s a pretty solid dating method. Surely you know this. I’m not sure why you always want to do this …

So we've reached the stage when forgers doing the basics is a sign of authenticity.
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Mick Harper
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Here's a technical exercise. We beg, borrow or steal the Met bust and ask a sculptor to make an exact copy, colouring and all -- or better still a 3D computer to make it -- and then we invite Shapps to say which one is the Roman one. He can consult art historians, museum experts and connoisseurs in any profusion. All they will be told is that neither has a provenance going back further than 1930.

Presumably no-one will be able to identify the Classical one. In fact, unless they are aware of the Met piece, it is doubtful if any of them would claim either of them was Roman. We can then give them both to the Met, ask them to put on the card

A representation of how Roman matrons reputedly styled their hair in the third century AD.

and ask them to send the other one back for display in the AEL vestibule. Remind me to get (1) and (2) carved on the underneaths.
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