Exhibit traces early book history

Booklovers will enjoy viewing “From Script to Print, Without a Computer,” an exhibit of handwritten and early printed books on display at the library from August 3-29.

These works from a local private collector trace the transition from handwritten books to early printed ones, primarily in Western Europe. They include pen-and-ink pages from handwritten books from the 1200s to the late 1400s, and pages from printed books from the late 1400s to the mid-1500s. Also included are a few non-Western, handwritten works done as late as the 1600s and 1700s.

A multilingual display

The handwritten manuscript pages are in Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, and Oriya (a language of the Indian state of Orissa). Also included are pages from hymnals in Gregorian Chant notation.

The Latin manuscripts are mainly texts for the Mass, the Divine Office, and books of hours. The Hebrew manuscript contains writings from the Torah, and the Arabic manuscript contains prayers for the well-being of the bearer.

The arrival of movable type

The advent of movable-type printing by Gutenberg around 1440 marked the twilight of handwritten books. Yet scribes, sensing their impending unemployment, continued to turn out very elaborate works well into the 1500s, one of which is in this show.

You may view the exhibit during normal library hours.