Hi! I’m Elakkiya, a student in English and Classical Studies, doing my co-op term as the Special Collections & Archives Project Assistant. I would begin by saying that so far it’s been going well and I’m looking forward to the next four months, but I can’t say that… because it’s already been over a month! I feel like I just got here, yet it’s already February, and soon enough I’ll be holding my textbooks instead of rare books and reading lectures instead of anything in our vast collection.
My first month was filled with lots of typing and scanning. I know it sounds boring, but it was all for the greater good of our Kitchener-Waterloo Record Negative Collection, which is REALLY big.
I began with the negatives from 1993, and was excited to see some pictures from outside K-W, like a Blue Jays game at the Skydome (now the ACC) in Toronto.
While in this 1993 Sports section, I also found my first “orphan” (i.e. a loose negative without an envelope, so we don’t know anything about it-- coined by our very own Sue Plouffe). And what a creepy orphan it is! It begs the question, “Why? Why would someone take this picture?” I’d love to know if it was ever used in the paper (KWR: 1993_93-001).
I could go on about our extensive negative collection, but we have so much more to fill our days. In fact, we recently acquired our second leaf of the Nuremberg Chronicle, which is a biblical paraphrase, published in 1493. It was written in Latin by German physician and bibliophile Hartmann Schedel, and was published in German later that year.
The part that really intrigued me about the piece is that it was written in Latin, and called Liber Chronicarum i.e. "Book of Chronicles" (the English title originated from the birthplace of both the author and his book, i.e. Nuremberg, Germany). As a Classics major I should probably appreciate the historical significance just as much as the Latin. But, if I’m being honest, I only wanted to major in Classical Studies so I could give a semi-reasonable excuse to my mom for taking Latin well past high school. Getting to hold a piece of original Latin work from over 500 years ago was a surreal experience. Reality hit me when I saw that I couldn’t translate more than a few words per sentence (and sometimes not even that many)… and I will shamelessly blame it on the font.
The Nuremberg is especially well known for its great use of illustrations, which were drawn by an artist, transferred to a woodblock, carved into the wood, then printed onto each page, and sometimes hand coloured later on. This process was repeated for every copy of the book, virtually making each copy unique in its images because they weren’t all coloured the same way, if at all. However, it did not make each appearance of an image unique as many were recycled throughout the book to save time and money. The same portrait can be seen under multiple names!
Though we only have two leaves, we have a facsimile of the whole book (call number: H0769), so you should definitely come down to the Rare Book Room and check it out for yourself!
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