This is such a wonderful idea!

Glamorgan Archives

Some years ago Glamorgan Archives acquired a vacuum press, which has been put to good use recently to package degrading cellulose nitrate and acetate negatives for safe handling before freezing. Conservation staff were just wondering what else the press could be used for when the November issue of the ICON Journal appeared. It featured an article by Hiromi Tanimura on squelch drying books damaged by tsunami water. The squelch method had been developed by Stuart Welch, and was first used to great effect in 2002 when dealing with the aftermath of the Prague floods at the National Library of the Czech Republic.

Squelch sounded like fun! So we decided to research the method further and try it out ourselves. Initial trials were on two modern hard back volumes, library deaccessions. They were put into a bucket which was filled with water and left overnight. The pages of the volumes had…

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Sally the Midwife: Enslaved Medical Practitioners and Historical Erasure

University of Glasgow Library Blog

Guest blog post by Linsey McMillan, PhD Student in History, University of Edinburgh.

This article was written by PhD student Linsey McMillan in conjunction with the current exhibition Call and Response: The University of Glasgow and Slavery. The exhibition seeks to explore the unknown or unexpected ways collections can be related to racial slavery, and continues the conversation by widening the range of responses to these historic legacies. McMillan’s research uniquely considers the role of undocumented histories and the impact that has on our understanding of the transatlantic slave trade today.

At first glance, this 1829 appraisal of the Invera Estate in Tobago appears to be nothing more than a cold, cursory account of the value attributed to the estate’s enslaved labourers, stock, and buildings. Alone it provides little to no evidence of the lives of the enslaved men, women, and children included in it.

Figure 1: Appraisement of the slaves, stock, buildings and land of the Invera Estate, Tobago, 28 March 1829, MS GEN 946/4, University of Glasgow Library, Items Collected by Thomas Fraser Campbell, (MS GEN 946).
Figure 1: Appraisement of…

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Teaching spotlight: Art in Medieval Books

Great to contribute to the success of this course

Dispatches in Art History

This semester, Dr Anne Kirkham has been teaching a Level 3 course on Art in Medieval Books.

The course introduced students to the glorious imagery on the pages of many medieval books in the West, from the first regular appearances of a ‘rectangular object with pages’ in the fifth century to the time when printed books with printed images became relatively commonplace in the sixteenth century.Students studied how the complex history of this period influenced the production of manuscripts and the art that they contain. The course also considered the effects of collecting and connoisseurship in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the practices of conservation and curating in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Several classes were at John Rylands Library, where specific objects were studied at close-hand, and specialist staff, including the conservation and photographic teams, provided privileged insights into the work of a special collections library.

The final…

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Frederick Bearman Research Grant 2019: Islamic slipcase project

An interesting blog on decorated slipcases in the Rylands

the Icon Book & Paper Group blog

By David Plummer

In July 2019, I had the good fortune to visit the John Ryland’s Library in Manchester, U.K where I surveyed twenty-five Islamic slipcases. I was fortunate enough to be accompanied on this trip by my research assistant Maria Borg who is currently studying for her MA in Conservation studies, specialising in Books and Library Materials at West Dean College, U.K. This trip was made possible thanks to the funding I received by the Icon Book and Paper Group’s Frederick Bearman Research Grant. This study is timely as, artifacts are increasingly seen by conservators and curators to reflect symbolic aspects of a culture that made and used them. The outcome is a searchable source of data to informpreservation strategy.

At the John Rylands Library, common materials and techniques were identified, along with commonalities of provenance, and condition issues and preservation strategy. Speculation was also made as…

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Thanks to the Western world’s love of taking souvenirs, albums of paintings on pith being a prime example, the John Rylands Library has been provided with one of its hidden treasures. They are sometimes mistakenly called “rice paper paintings”. The only common characteristic with rice it is its organic nature and, even though they come […]

via Taking the pith — John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

Behind the Scenes of an Exhibition: Hard Decisions! — John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

This week we met with our colleague Elaine Sheldon from the Conservation Team to discuss display proposals and concerns about some of the objects we are hoping to show in our Life of Objects Exhibition. One of our hardest decisions is trying to narrow down our choice of material so that they will fit into […]

via Behind the Scenes of an Exhibition: Hard Decisions! — John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog

Il giornale dei gatti


Il giornale dei gatti

I gatti hanno un giornale
con tutte le novità
e sull’ultima pagina
la “Piccola pubblicità”.

“Cercasi casa comoda
con poltrone fuori moda:
non si accettano bambini
perché tirano la coda.”

“Cerco vecchia signora
a scopo compagnia.
Precisare referenze
e conto in macelleria.”

“Premiato cacciatore
cerca impiego in granaio.”
“Vegetariano, scapolo,
cerca ricco lattaio.”

I gatti senza casa
la domenica dopopranzo
leggono questi avvisi
più belli di un romanzo:

per un’oretta o due
sognano ad occhi aperti,
poi vanno a prepararsi
ai notturni concerti.

Gianni Rodari da Filastrocche in cielo e in terra, Einaudi 1997


Witches chant


Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d in the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat; and slips of yew

Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,-
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For ingredients of our cauldron.

William Shakespeare (extract from Witches’ chant, Macbeth)


Filetto d’un acquatico pitone,

bolli e lessati dentro il calderone;

dito di rana, occhio di lucertola,

lingua di cane, vellame di nottola,

forca di vipera, aculeo d’orbetto,

piè di ramarro, scella di guffetto,

bollite nell’infuso più infernale

a distillare un filtro micidiale.