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While at the British Library, looking through "Medieval Medical Miniatures"
by Peter Murray Jones (as previously mentioned) for herbals, I noticed this
Fig. 27 "Physician's folding calendar" Sloane MS 2250
"A number of these calendars were manufactured in England in the first
half of the 15th Century, specially for physicians. Each section unfolds
to reveal part of the calendar or a useful figure or table. Once folded, the
whole thing could be carried in a pouch at the belt."
"... Each section is identified on the outside by a title, so that the
relevant part can be quickly picked out and unfolded."
The illustration of Sloane MS 2250 shows clearly the indexing mechanism
used to identify each section - an ornate red letter near the outside fold
Similarly, there's the category of "girdle calendars" as mentioned on a
A small medieval folding calendar, so made that it could be suspended
from the girdle or habit cord of a cleric, or from the belt. Many had
covers of stiff vellum sheathed in velvet, sometimes overcast at the
edges with silk thread, and ornamented with balls and tassles. Such
calendars generally showed the saints' days and other religious
observances for each month, as well as various astrological tables.
They were generally written on fold-out leaves of vellum.
((( Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. The history of bookbinding 525-1950
A.D. Compiled by Dorothy Miner. Baltimore. Trustees of the Walters
Art Gallery. 1957. )))
Here's a nice site of someone making a modern reconstruction of a girdle
The Schoyen collection has what could be one of these calendars (MS 1581,
about half a page down from the top): it certainly has a "zodiac man", a
lunary for 1425-1481, a list of british kings, a T-O map of the world, etc.
No uroscopy chart, though. :-/
Certainly, the VMS are definitely small enough to be carried easily, do
have a number of fold-out sections, and there has already been plenty of
speculation about its possible function as an almanack (at least in part):
so there are already enough similarities with both of of the above
categories to warrant further investigation.
All of which begs the questions:
(1) Does the present binding of the VMS mislead us as to the original
structure (and hence original use-pattern)?
(2) Is there any evidence of marks or signs on the VMS that could have been
used to identify each section for quick picking? Might these have been
excised or deleted?
(3) Is there any evidence of different use-patterns apparent from previous
binding-marks or folding-marks?
(4) Are there any books or papers on either physicians' calendars or girdle
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....