Online Encyclopedia

ILLUMINATED MSS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 624 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ILLUMINATED MSS., and MINIATURES. Writing Implements.—In conclusion, a few words may be added respecting the writing implements employed in the production of MSS. The reed, KaXanos, calamus, was adapted for tracing characters either on papyrus or vellum. By the ancient Egyptians, and also probably by the early Greek scribes in Egypt, it was used with a soft brush-like point, rather as a paint-brush than as a pen. The Greek and Roman scribes used the reed cut to a point and slit like the quill-pen; and it survived as a writing implement into the middle ages. For scratching letters on the waxen tablet the sharp pointed bodkin, on Xos, ypaq'elov, stilus, graphium, was necessary, made of iron, bronze, ivory, or other suitable material, with a knobbed or flattened butt-end wherewith corrections could be made by smoothening the wax surface (hence vertere stilum, to correct). Although there is no very early record of the use of quills as pens, it is obvious that, well adapted as they are for the purpose and to be had everywhere, they must have been in request even in ancient times as they afterwards were in the middle ages. Bronze pens, fashioned exactly on the model of the quill-pen, that is in form of a tube ending in a slit nib (sometimes even with a nib at each end), of late Roman manufacture, are still in existence. A score of them are to be found scattered among public and private museums. The ruler for guiding ruled lines was the Kavcv, canon, regula; the pencil was the . 6Xv65or, plumbum, the plummet; the pricker for marking the spacing out of the ruled lines was the 5ia$6.rni, circinus, punctorium; the pen-knife, yabckavov, uµi)nj, scalprum; the erasing-knife, rasorium, novacula. Inks.—Inks of various colours were employed from early times. The ink of the early papyri is a deep glossy black; in the Byzantine period it deteriorates. In the middle ages black ink is generally of excellent quality; it tends to deteriorate from the 14th century. But its quality varies in different countries at different periods. Red ink, besides being used for titles and colophons, also served for contrast, as, for example, in glosses. In the Carolingian period entire MSS. were occasionally written in red ink. Other coloured inks—green, violet and yellow—are also found, at an early date. Gold and silver writing fluids were used in the texts of the ancient purple vellum MSS., and writing in gold was reintroduced under Charlemagne for codices of ordinary white vellum. It was introduced into English MSS. in the loth century.
End of Article: ILLUMINATED MSS
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