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Elmsley Rose

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Elmsley Rose

31 December 2006

Gothic scripts

I was just looking at the Medieval Writing site.

Very handily (and neatly)
pretty much describes the Gothic scripts I'll be studying by doing the script analysis of
the Bedford Psalter, the Queen Mary Psalter and the Geese Book.

And the next page,
describes what I want to study after that - the bastarda variations, (more ornate) and I'll also incorporate Cadeaux, which are in period.

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30 December 2006

Checking the letter shapes are correct

In addition to explaining about 'hanging diamonds' Reggie mentioned in his answer to me, Meisterin Katarina Helene also pointed out to me that the process of using an overlay to check an example of my work with the original that Reggie suggested was actually the opposite of 'the normal' or 'natural' way you'd check.

Naturally, you'd overlay your work on top of the original.

Reggie recommended that you do it the other way around - having a transparency in red lettering of the original and laying it over my work and "the differences will jump out".

He also said "very importantly, take any piece you do and hold it up to a window so the back side of the paper is facing you. This truely helps you to see your work with new eyes: very important if you are hard pressed for good critical input."

I know about looking at it upside down, but I'll give looking at it in reverse as well in future.

Meisterin Katarina Helene also suggested :
"Another trick you might try is to make very pale copies of Drogin, and then use a color wash in your nib to trace over them, or place a piece of tracing paper over the copy and then trace them with your own pen in another color. This helps you train your hand in forming the correct shapes."

.....which would be good for when I'm starting to learn the Bedford Psalter ductus for some of the more complicated letters. (like the weird G)

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Gods With Snow - By Jove, I'm getting there

I've been practising verticals. (gee, what a change)

Remembering that I discovered that historical Gothic scripts have even spacing between the verticals - rather than 'kerning' (specific and individual spaces between particular letters) to make the letters more distinct and legible.
I learnt to do it with the modern spacing, so I've been re-learning to write it with even spacing between the verticals, and at the same time improving the quality of my verticals, using the 'Gods of Snow' quote from Drogin's book.

Meisterin Katarina Helene pointed out the other day that only diamonds were being used in this version of G.T.Q. script to make M, N, and U - no quadrants (ie extended diamonds) so I've needed to incorporate this change.

When I went from doing just verticals (I's) to joining them together in M,N and U's just using diamonds, as per the quote, I discovered that they were too close together.
If you look at the scan below, you can see that the diamonds are touching at the bottom all of the time- they should be just slightly apart and only joined in the case of at the bottom in the case of the U by a tiny extending stroke.
I'm used to using quadrants which provides a longer 'bridge' between the verticals.

Anyway, after banging my head on the desk for awhile and wondering if I was ever going to get this right, I tried doing two verticals, and THEN joining them to form an N. And - it worked!

It isn't 'legal' - in the ductus, you do one vertical, then the stroke to join, then the second vertical.
But I reckon I'll keep up doing it this way until I get more of a handle on the spacing.
Because the spacing is SO tiny, it's so very easy to go either too narrow, or too wide.

Here's what I got :

Apart from the fact that it's not scanned straight, and the x-height differs between the line - that looks heaps heaps better! I'm still a bit variable in the spacing between the verticals, but it looks so much more like the original quote! *happy dance*
And yes, that spacing in "volunt" (the final word) is correct - look at the original quote. It's got even spacing between the verticals - so it looks weird. That's the whole point of all of this.
(and going onto letters other than M, N, U and I should be lots of fun! - will I end up perverting the whole ductus?~!)

And - not only have I been talking about the wrong manuscript the whole time (I was wondering if anyone would ever notice), made a fundamental mistake in measuring the x-height, which means that I've had to re-do all my script analysis work so far, .....
but Meisterin Katarina Helene explained Reggie Ezell's answer to me in words of one syllable. And I said it was a fairly generic answer! Let me writhe in embarassment!

By "
My general response to any lettering is not to squeeze letters between the lines. Iusually prefer to pierce through them--more freedom."

He was talking about 'hanging the diamonds' from the waist line. It's a bit of a subtle thing - only to be appreciated if you spend a lot of time staring at the script. It means that the diamonds should only just, just be touching the lines (hanging from the top and floating from the bottom). So I've been working on that as well, with some success.

More practise, to get the spacing even and make sure my diamonds hang nicely. And then have a go at doing the letters in the proper stroke-order. I'm hoping that by getting this quote right, it'll really help me in the future. It'd better! *grin*

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29 December 2006

The Bedford Hours vs The Bedford Hours and Psalter

Paul recommended that I do a script analysis of the Bedford Hours back in

but I couldn't get enough images of the pages.

Almost all of the pages of the Bedford Hours have only a few lines of writing in the middle of the pages accompanied by a large versal, so you need lots to get the full alphabet.

I could get more for the Bedford Hours and Psalter, so that's what I ended up using.

Of course, now, I have a copy of Janet Backhouse's book on The Bedford Hours.

The books I'm referencing for the script analysis (The Historical Source Book for Scribes and Stan Knight's Historical Scripts) also refer to the Bedford Hours and Psalter.

I have been assured by Paul and by Gemma Black that the gothic textura quadrata script in the Bedford Hours and Psalter (commonly called just the Bedford Psalter) is also of a high quality.

They are from the same period, and share the name "Bedford" simply because the Duke of Bedford was their patron.

The Bedford Hours was created in the period about 1423-1430, by the Bedford Master and his workshop, (in Paris) including the Master of the Golden Legend of Munich, to quote Codices Illustres page 301. It's in Latin, with explanatory notes in French at the bottom of the pages.

The Bedford Psalter was created in about in the period 1414-1423 by Hermann Scheerre and his workshop (in London). - Codices Illustres page 286. It's in Latin. Good full pages of script.

Yes, I have gone back and changed the labels and any references from The Bedford Hours to the Bedford Hours and Psalter (The Bedford Psalter). I knew I'd have to talk about this, and make the changes eventually, and this seemed like a good time to do it.

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Christmas! II

In addition to receiving the Ductus software from Nick, I also received some lovely calligraphy-related presents from Meisterin Katarina Helene ;

  • "Medieval Hunting Scenes : The Hunting Book by Gaston Phoebus"

which is excellent for it's diaper work, and also if you want to copy a medieval dog or two.

  • "The Bedford Hours" by Janet Backhouse

This is where I should explain something. I'm actually doing a script analysis of the Bedford Hours and Psalter, not the Bedford Hours (they are two different manuscripts). I'll talk about that in a seperate entry.

She also gave me a present I just adore - a hand made book with a 16th C limp binding made of vellum!

And opened out :-

Note the buttons on the spine to wrap the strings around to close.
I had to put it in my scanner, so the pictures aren't very good. It's a pity the details of the stitching on the spine aren't clearer.

The paper is calligraphy paper - perhaps Arches HP? And the book is quite thick.

The cover is made from vellum. I've talked to Katarina Helene and she says that with a little very fine sandpaper-ing, I'll be able to paint an illuminated letter on the front. :-)
I'm very much looking forward to doing that.

Thankyou so much, Katarina Helene, and thankyou so so much for all of your help


The Ductus Software

I've been looking at the Ductus Paleography software.

It covers one or two scripts (National Hands II: Merovingian B Minuscule and Corbie AB Minuscule, anyone?) in each Session in the course, with Gothic scripts covered in two Sessions (yay, go Gothic script!)

Each session is a screen or two of summary. Click on the manuscript pages to be transcribed to get paleographical summaries of them, and be able to magnify them.

And a wacking great list of books to be referenced as part of each session.

I've built the required book list for the two Gothic Scripts Sessions - it's now my "Paleography Book Wish List". It's fun window shopping books!

Since I'm intending (or already am?) making a serious study of the Gothic scripts this doesn't bother me. I'll get the books eventually. And I imagine that most of the books would cover the rest of the course as well. Although a small part of me is going "Yowsers!".

Professor Muir does mention in the introduction that
Greetham's Textual Scholarship: An Introduction and Bischoff's Latin Palaeography, are the bare minimum, so I could get away with just those.

He also mentions
" The program has an embryonic electronic library that when fully developed will offer synopses of a corpus of essential articles for users working either independently or in an environment where a wide range of paleographical reference material is not readily available......updates regularly available".

I'm so looking forward to this!


24 December 2006


I saw an old friend yesterday.
And he gave me a very special present.

He had looked at my wishlist.

(Here's a copy of what on the page of the link)

Ductus, from the Latin ducere (to lead), is a digital program designed for the teaching of Latin paleography either locally or via the internet. The program is based on 60 extremely high resolution facsimiles of manuscripts from the period 150-1500 A.D. It includes videos depicting a (modern) scribe at work, a 14-session course, and extensive glossaries and support documentation. It is already used by teachers and independent scholars around the world. In 2000 it received The Australian Award for Excellence in Tertiary Educational Multimedia. Ductus is available either for use by individuals or by institutions with a site licensing arrangement.

Ductus features:

  • Individual analyses of over 60 sample manuscript facsimiles, including folios from The Book of Kells.
  • Extensive interactive glossaries of terms and bibliographies.
  • Online library of seminal articles.
  • Extremely high-resolution manuscript images.
  • Videos demonstrating the craft of the medieval scribe.
  • A structured 14-session course in paleography and codicology.
  • Cross-browser - runs in Netscape and Internet Explorer.
  • Cross-platform - runs on Windows, Mac and Unix.

Ductus includes an introduction to the history of western European handwriting and detailed interactive analyses of 60 sample scripts chosen from manuscripts in European, North American and Australian collections.

The manuscript images are of very high resolution and a movable magnifying glass makes it easy to study the scripts in minute detail. The transcript for each line can be viewed by passing the mouse over the line number. This feature can be disabled for teaching purposes.

The screen shot above shows the list of manuscripts down the left, with the analysis of the first manuscript to the right.

The program also includes video clips showing how the scripts were most likely written by medieval scribes. The second release will include more such videos as well as an interview with the calligrapher who features in them, Terry Pepperell, of Melbourne, Australia. Terry will describe the art of the scribe and the materials that they used. There will also be a section devoted to recent developments in the digital analysis of scripts as created by our development group, 'Medieval Multimedia' (medieval manuscripts in the Multi-medium Aevum.

Interactive supporting documentation includes comprehensive glossaries of over 300 terms with illustrations, manuscript types, full transcriptions, a bibliography and an electronic portfolio of associated art work. Below is an example of a Ductus glossary term. (Note: Because this is only an example, the hyperlinks are not active.)

calamus: The reed pen used by scribes in antiquity; it was gradually replaced by the quill made from a feather.

A calamus in the middle with a quill on either side.
Ductus is in CD-ROM format and runs in a web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer), making it suitable for either local or remote use (via the web). Remote users can access high resolution images mounted locally from the CD-ROM while connected directly to the home site during a session. Regular upgrades will be down-loadable via the net.

This year the introductory paleography course is offered via the net using Ductus. The course is available to anyone anywhere in the world, regardless of the size of the class. Please contact Bernard Muir to arrange to participate in this digital experience of paleography.

What's extra special is that it's from the University of Melbourne, where I live.

Thankyou so much, Nick! :-) :-) :-)


23 December 2006

Script Analysis - Ascender/Descender Height

Here are my 4 pages all re-sized, with the x-height, ascender and descender heights, and also the size of the text block marked

The Illuminated Page/Page in Historical Source Book for Scribes (it's the same page)

Codices Illustres

British Library Image D1

British Library Image D2

I'll talk about the outcome later .............

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Script Analysis - X-Height

OK, so the x-height is 7mm, or 5 nib widths. (As Michelle Brown's/Patricia Lovett's Historical Source Book for Scribes says and my re-measurements have confirmed)

There's only one small problem.
7/5 = 1.4, not 1.5

Looking at pen nib width charts

well - I don't have a Koh-I-Noor technical pen and I don't know if they come in left handed.

This other chart doesn't even HAVE a 1.4 nib width shown.

William Mitchell

Line Height Measurements (in millimetres)



Right Hand

R/H Italic

Speedball C



3 nib widths

4 nib widths

5 nib widths

7 nib widths

0.50 mm

Ital Ext Fine

Size 6

Size 5

Size 6

Size 5

½ mm

1.5 mm

2 mm

2.5 mm

3.5 mm

0.60 mm

Size 5

1.8 mm

2.4 mm

3 mm

4.2 mm

0.75 mm

Italic Fine

Size 4

Size 4

Size 4

¾ mm

2.25 mm

3 mm

3.75 mm

5.25 mm

1.00 mm

Italic Med

Size 3½

Size 3

Size 5

1 mm

3 mm

4 mm

5 mm

7 mm

1.25 mm

Italic Broad

Size 3

Size 2

Size 3

3.75 mm

5 mm

6.25 mm

8.75 mm

1.50 mm


Size 2½

Size 1

Size 4

1½ mm

4.5 mm

6 mm

7.5 mm

10.5 mm

2.00 mm


Size 2

Size 3

Size 2

2 mm

6 mm

8 mm

10 mm

14 mm

2.50 mm


Size 1½

Size 1½

2½ mm

7.5 mm

10 mm

12.5 mm

17.5 mm

2.75 mm

Size 1

8.25 mm

11 mm

13.75 mm

19.25 mm

3.00 mm


Size 1

Size 2

3 mm

9 mm

12 mm

15 mm

21 mm

3.50 mm


Size 0

Size 1

10.5 mm

14 mm

17.5 mm

24.5 mm

4.00 mm


4 mm

12 mm

16 mm

20 mm

28 mm

5.00 mm


Size 0

5 mm

15 mm

20 mm

25 mm

35 mm

28 December : There is another nib width comparison chart in the SCA_S&I files. It gives (only) an Osmoroid BR as having a 1.4 mm width.

So I'm going to stick with the 1.5mm width Brause I have.
Meisterin Katarina Helene suggested that of course they were cutting quills back then, so had more opportunity to create a 1.4mm wide nib.
The letters will only be the tiniest bit thicker and more cramped. But since I know - if I do copy a page of writing from one of the images I have of the Bedford Psalter on a transparent sheet, and hold it over the original - I'll know (one reason) why the letters aren't exactly the same.

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18 December 2006

Script Analysis - The new measurements

Now, if I did stay with a nib width of 2mm, what I'd get is a more cramped, chunkier version of the Bedford Psalter script. And many of the letters would distort because so many of them are built with diamonds whose sides measure the width of the pen nib. There would be less 'vertical' line to be seen in a letter as they are covered by the relatively big diamonds.

I've already re-sized the page from Backhouse's Illuminated Manuscript, at exactly the size it says the pages are (with the illumination cropped from the edges so the resultant script in the middle would print on one page on the printer), and the nib width there is 1.5-ish mm. It varies a bit, depending on which line you measure, but I've heard that you go with the O's. They vary too, of course. Oh! This handwritten stuff!

Now I'm working with a page of the script that has been re-sized both to fit the page size specifications, and has nib widths of what I'd expect, I can simply make measurements directly from the page. Instead of what I did before, which was measure the nib width shown on the size (whatever it was) of each page, and then adjust my measurements by a factor of 2 or whatever.

It's just too dangerous to do it that way - the measurements are so small, there is so much variation. I really need to re-size the images using the page measurements stated in the originating books, not use the nib size shown on the page and then adjusting measurements according to what I've measured that nib size to be. The error magnifies too much. I should have noticed there was a problem with the pen nib width before now, but I hadn't.

So, anyway, I've checked all those letters that start or finish at funny heights - d (all three versions),g, t, h (!), y (!), the funny machinations of the z, and worked out the ascender/descender heights for the more normal ascending/descending letters (b,f, l, long s etc). And calculated a new set of guideline measurements to match the page format.

I say "worked out the a/d height' and 'calculate the guidelines' because the x-height, ascender and descender heights varied as I measured down any one of the pages, including the Illuminated Manuscript page that I'm currently using - so it's a matter of finding the average of each whilst aiming to fit the standard 18 lines on each page onto the given page length.

I've decided not to go thought the other images (like I did in the 2 Script Analysis - Float, Ascender and Descender Height entries) - from Codices Illustres and the 2 from the British Library where I went through and noted all the variances (like on one page, the cross bar of the t is 1 mm below the waistline and on another the crossbar is 0.5 mm below the waistline). I've commented before that it looks like there were different scribes writing the different pages because of these sorts of small but consistent differences (and there are a lot of them). I like the version of the script on the Illuminated Manuscript page the best so I'm just going with that one.

I just need to type all this up with the actual measurements and rule up a new guidesheet.

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Script Analysis - Fundamental Error

I went back to my Script Analysis today, and discovered, much to my horror that I've made a fundamental error.

I was looking at the individual letters, and happened to look at the ductus shown in the Historical Source Book for Scribes. Much to my suprise, the x-height stated was 5, not 4 pen widths.

I went back and measured the blown up reproduction in the Stan Knight book. My measurement of the pen width = 2.25 mm, not 3 mm as I'd originally measured. I have noticed, over time, that you must angle the ruler absolutely correctly to the angle of the stroke or you'll get varying answers. (well, doh!)

So, back in Script Analysis - pen width, x-heightthe commentary

"Thankfully, Stan Knight says that his blowup is 150% of the original's size. Somewhere I needed a clue of how big the original actually is. You never know by how much the reproductions have been re-sized just by looking, and this told me.
So I needed to multiply everything I measured in the Stan Knight blow up by 0.667.

Pen width (measuring on a wide part of an O) = 3 . So, if it's 150% the size of the original I need to multiply it by 100/150 or 0.667 = 2 mm.
That is the pen width used in the Bedford Hours and Psalter.

I measured the x-height - not between the lines drawn inbetween which the text is floating (I'll do that later) but the height of a,c,e,on,m etc. (normal 'x-height). It came to 11 mm on this reproduction.
Again, multiplying by 2/3, I got 7.3 mm, which is what the x-height should be on the original
So, x-height at 7.3 mm, with pen width at 2 mm, that gives up approximately 4 pen widths for the x-height."


Pen width (measuring on a wide part of an O) = 2.25 . So, if it's 150% the size of the original I need to multiply it by 100/150 or 0.667 = 1.5 mm.
That is the pen width used in the Bedford Hours and Psalter.

Again, multiplying by 2/3, I got 7.3 mm, which is what the x-height should be on the original
So, x-height at 7.3 mm, with pen width at 1.5 mm, that gives up approximately 4.8 (ie 5) pen widths for the x-height.

Oh. Well - mega bugger!

I'm not going to torture myself by re-sizing the other pages I've got to represent the actual size of the page, and measuring the x-height.

I've been happily looking at my photocopies and basing adjustment calculations assuming the nib width was 2 mm. Which means that where I look at where the letters that have ascenders and descenders (b,d,f,g,h etc) in the entries
Script Analysis - Float, Ascender and Descender Heights (Backhouse) and Script Analysis - Float, Ascender and Descender Heights and measure how they fit against the ascender and descender heights of letters like d and t are all slightly incorrect.

I drew nib ladders on those reproductions using a pen with 2 mm nib width and fitted in 4 nib widths on the ladder.
At 1.5 mm nib width, the ladder is 0.5 mm shorter.

Perhaps it isn't a problem. Saying "and the right hand side of the 'h' finishes 1.5 mm below the baseline" and "the t finishes 0.5 mm above the waistline" won't be that inaccurate. I'm going to have to go back and check, tho.
Not to mention the a/d heights being wrong.

I think some of this comes down to not reproducing the various pages from the books to exactly the 'real' manuscript size.

The ruled up guidelines in Script Analysis - Drawing up the Guidelines are also incorrect. I've re-measured the ascender/descender height in the Stan Knight blow-up and come up with 2 nib widths. Michelle Brown/Patricia Lovett come up with 1.5 nib widths, but actually use 2 nib widths in their ductus. Yes, I am working in 'absolute' measurements at the moment (eg saying 0.5 mm instead of saying 1/4 pen width). I'll translate these references to pen width proportions later on.

Anyone got a brick wall handy?
This is meant to be a learning process and I'll only learn by making mistakes.
But Ouch!
*insert swear words here*

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6 December 2006

Jacobean Card

I did some gluing up of cards today - 3 more to go.

Thanks to a post on a Scribies list about the Macclesfield Psalter, I found a page of Christmas Cards based on Medieval Mss

(thanks Motley Fool)

I kind of wish I'd thought of doing a more 'Christmas-sy Medieval' style card like the examples there - but I did choose the Jacobean Tapestry because i thought that my friends would like an example of my recent work without it having sleigh bells or something on it and so they'd just shove it in a drawer once the Season had passed. Still - the ideas at the FitzWilliam are a good compromise and there'd be millions of other suitable images.

Next year! :-)
Sally (MEtoo) is very excited at the idea of some pink notecards and matching envelopes with dragons on them, reproduced in the same way as I did Dianne's writing paper and envelopes ("A little project" label). Her next birthday isn't til next August tho.

Here's one backed. I've got shades of brown for the boys on my list, and apricot colours for the girls, with consideration given to those who like bright colours. I was very glad that my splurge on "scrap booking paper" (like this linen press card I've used) that I had a few months ago came in useful.

While I'm here, here's a scan of the greeting done in Dr Martin's Irridescent ink in Copperplate Gold. I mentioned a couple of posts back that the ink's coverage was nowhere near as good as the Pelikan Gold Gouache in pan, and now you can see the difference. Or maybe it's a matter of carefully loading the pen for every stroke or two when you are using the Irridescent Ink so you get full pigmentation. Don't know, don't care - I like the Pelikan.
I can always use the Iridescent Ink for washes - tho it seems a bit of a waste. Anyone wanted a very slightly used bottle of Dr Martin's in Copperplate Gold? I think I have two bottles of the dratted stuff.

The first is in the ink, the second in the goauche. They are actually more similiar IRL - the scan has really greyed out the ink and not let those little flashy particles sparkle - but still, the difference is very obvious.

I was actually able to do some gothic script practise this morning - the Gods with Snow quote. I don't seem to have gone too backwards after missing practise for the time it's taken me to do the Jacobean Card.
And i had a look at the script analysis and the questions the other day. It's very in depth and complicated, and I kind of shuddered at the thought of getting my brain back around it - but get back around it I shall. I'm not that far from finishing, and being able to start practising the actual script. After that, an analysis of the illumination style, and then ... I get to do a piece in the style.

My questions about glazing was meet with a dead silence. Meisterin Helene reckons the subject is a bit rarified and complicated. I'll chase people like Randy on it when I'm back concentrating on lymning styles.
I do have to say that I am intrigued by the possibility of painting the Gottingen Model Book acanthus in a 'glaze' style, rather than using opaque goauche to do the shading. Using a glaze is exactly what the Gottingen Model book says to do, with thinned paint, but I kind of ignored that and blended in the colours of the opaque paint. Still looks good, but it'll be great to see the differences in how they look.

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1 December 2006

Jacobean Card - writing

I've gone through and signed the prints of the picture. My first signed piece!
I'll have to come up with a little emblem to say it's me.

I've cut out and ripped the edges (using one of those rough-edged metal rulers) of lots of little squares of Bockingford paper to paste on the back of the cards. These will have the greetings and personal note written on them.

I was going to use Dr Martin's Irridescent Ink - Copperplace Gold (11R) to write "Season's Grettings". I wrote out a test sentence using it and was disappointed by the uneveness of the pigmentation (even after lots of shaking and stirring).

I wet up my Pelikan Gold (Or - presumable "Gold" in German) goauche pan, and the colour was the same dark gold colour, with far far better pigmentation. I'm a convert. I'm actually getting a bit of build up/raised writing on the page.

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