Progress Update-1000 Volumes Digitized


As of 30 September, the Bodleian and Vatican Libraries have digitized a collective 1000 volumes for the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project. These works, comprising about half a million page images in total, are now freely available online and can be reached through our Digitized Items pages. (Both libraries have focused on incunabula and Greek manuscripts up to this point, although the Bodleian has recently digitized a handful of Hebrew manuscripts as well.)




To celebrate this milestone, we invite you to take a look at the 999th and thousandth volumes digitized for the project. From the Vatican Library, we have Barb. gr. 276, an 11th-century Corpus strategicorum operum. For readers of Greek, this volume offers extensive treatments of mathematical and military strategy. 


Those who do not read Greek can still enjoy the series of intricate diagrams beginning on fol. 217v, which appear to illustrate attack formations and siege equipment. The manuscript is also interesting from a conservational perspective, as skin reinforcements have been affixed to the worn corners of many of the leaves toward the end of the volume.



From the Bodleian, we have Inc. g. I4.1494.1, a vellum book of hours printed in Venice by Johannes Emericus de Spira and rebound in parchment in the 16th century. Like many books of hours, it has been painstakingly decorated. Initials are supplied in gold on a blue or red ground; the larger initials are shaded to give depth. 

The book's seven historiated woodcuts have been painted in lifelike colors, and each incipit officium features a full-page border in red, blue or black, with gold and silver depictions of metalwork, jewels and cameos.



The theme of these decorations contributes to an impression of the book itself as a jewel-like object; it is very small—only 10 cm in height—and most likely was originally ornately bound. With the exception of the binding, the book is still in excellent condition, and the name of the book's 16th-century owner, Giovanni Francesco Busati, has been inscribed on several of the lower endleaves.


Both libraries are still hard at work photographing books and manuscripts for the project; as of the end of September, about 730,000 pages have been captured, and we will continue to publish additional volumes online as the images are processed. To follow the progress made by the Bodleian Library, look for the #PolonskyProject tag on Twitter.