Friday, September 6, 2013

Coburg LB Mo A 12

Over the last several weeks, the Landesbibliothek Coburg has released digital facsimiles of the entire content of a volume (shelf mark Mo A 12) compiled in the sixteenth century mostly including practicas and other astrological prognostications from Grünpeck, Virdung, Carion, and many others, including eight booklets that appear to be unique copies. The appearance of more digital facsimiles is always to be welcomed, and the contribution from Coburg is particularly important. For the survival of early modern pamphlets, compiled volumes like this were essential. There are similar volumes in Erlangen, Zwickau, and several other places that I'd love to have available online, and I'd like to see more research done on how these volumes were compiled, and by whom, and why. Coburg's online catalog provides links to the facsimiles (search for "mo a 12" as the Signatur).

The appearance of these facsimiles does point to one problem that none of the digitalization projects have effectively solved, however. While the booklets were collected and bound together as a single unit, the electronic facsimiles obscure many features of the compilation, including the binding and the sequence of pamphlets. The Coburg catalog at least makes it possible to get a list of all the pamphlets in the volume when searched by shelf mark, but in other catalogs it's nearly impossible to determine what else is contained in a compiled volume, and what order any other elements occur in. There are still some things where spending time in Coburg or München can't be entirely replaced by staring at facsimiles.

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