Lauren & I previously went for a tour of John Rylands’ Library to see some items from their collection. The tour was very interesting, and we returned for two more tours. Some of the tours are run regularly at John Rylands, and information about upcoming tours can be found on their website.
The first tour of the day was ‘Life on the Edge’ which was guided by John Hodgson, Head of Archives & Manuscripts at John Rylands’. The tour was about ‘marginalia’ – scribbles, comments or illustrations which are found in the margins of books and are a wonderful source of information themselves. Mr Hodgson explained how when books were trimmed to be re-bound sometimes marginalia could be lost. He showed us a variety of examples of manuscripts with marginalia including manicules (pointing hands) and musical instruments.
The second tour was conducted by Dr Rhiannon Daniels from Bristol University, a curator of the ‘Locating Boccaccio’ exhibition at John Rylands’ which is running until 20th December 2013. John Rylands’ Library holds around 6,000 items relating to Boccaccio, including a first edition of the ‘Decameron’ – one of only 4 in existence, dating from 1470 – and the famous ‘Valdarfer Decameron’ a 1471 edition which sold in 1812 for £2,200 making it the most expensive book in the world at that time. The exhibition is divided into different sections, and artists were asked to create an interpretation of his work, resulting in some wonderful examples.
Tours are run quite regularly at John Rylands’ and I fully recommend them, as they offer a wonderful opportunity to learn about the treasures they hold in their archives.