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Physician's folding calendars (revisited)...
Here's a quick look at the VMS from the point of view of a physician's
folding calendar (in the style of Sloane MS 2250).
The most immediate similarity is that f1r has a couple of large stand-out
red letters/symbols, which are very much in the style used to identify the
various quires in MS 2250. OK, this doesn't amount to a great deal but it's
a start. :-/
We might then reasonably ask: do the VMS' quires have other external marks
to indicate their contents? This is probably going to be quite difficult to
assess from what we have, as my research into information-structuring in
these kinds of documents seems to indicate that colour is the primary
mechanism used to highlight important stuff - and our material is mainly
Still, here goes:-
Q1 f1r block red letters, similar to MS 2250
Q2 f9r ?
Q3 f17r two eyes in roots - perhaps quire pertains to sight-related herbals?
Q4 f25r ?
Q5 f33r two heads in roots - either mandrake or head-related herbals?
Q6 f41r ?
Q7 f49r worm threading through roots - perhaps these are cures for parasites?
Q8 f57r small messy mark on page - looks a bit like a "W"?
All comments and suggestions welcome! :-)
I must stress that I would expect the VMS' various quires' external marks
to be drawn in colour (specifically red), which I can't presently see. :-(((
It's certainly possible that later quires may not need obvious indexing
marks as much as the botanical/herbal section, as these are fairly distinct
- all the balnaeological folios are in their own quire, as are the
pharmaceutical folios, and the astrological ones.
Not having been to the Beinecke, this is all purely guesswork: but if the
VMS was ever used as a working document, the question of if/how the quires
were indexed will always be a pertinent one.
Still, here are some currently open questions:-
(1) how are other contemporary herbals' quires ordered or grouped?
(2) if ordered by body-part affected, what categories would be missing above?
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....