Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Website to Watch

It was the subtitle to the news story that caught my eye: "Project to open rare and valuable collection to the world is finally up and running."

"Rare and valuable collection?"  "Open ... to the world?"  What collection is this?  What's in it?  And, of course, the inevitable question, "Is there heraldry?"

Some of the answers, at least, appeared in the headline: "Digitizing history: 82,000-manuscript collection Vatican Library goes online"  Oh, boy!

The goal of this digitizing project, which is anticipated to end up using a whopping 43 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,000 terabytes; and knowing that now makes my with my 1 terabyte hard drive seem inadequate) of digital storage, is to make all 82,000 (including 8,900 incunabula, books printed before 1501) of the Vatican's manuscripts available on-line.  Naturally, finishing that project is going to take some time; the staff of 15 digital archivists can, on a good day, scan one page a minute once all the equipment is in place.

But the work is progressing, and the project has posted its first digitized results, a series of 300 14th century German volumes already.

Is there any heraldry in them?  The article doesn't say, but given the discussion of gold or silver in the illuminations, I've got my hopes up.

The full story, which was published in, can be found on-line at

And you can start checking out those first 300 volumes at

And, yes, I've already answered for myself the question about heraldry.  In the second manuscript I opened, at the bottom of page 2r of manuscript Vat. lat.11506 is a rendition in color of the coat of arms (of a cardinal, I'm guessing, based on the red galero over it).  See for yourself at  If you click on the picture of the page, it opens up a set of thumbnails of the entire book for you, and you can then click on the individual pages to get to large versions of them.


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