Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Seals’

Bateman's seal

This year’s Supporters of the Old Library event “Past Impressions: seals as an insight into medieval life”, a talk by Dr Elizabeth New will take place on Saturday 24 September. The talk will look at some of Trinity Hall’s seals (including the seal of Bishop Bateman pictured here) and give an insight into the “Imprint” project. The speaker is a medieval historian, an expert on British seals and Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the Department of History & Welsh History at Aberystwyth University. She is also co-investigator on the “Imprint” project, which is a forensic and historical investigation of fingerprints on medieval seals. There will be a display of seals in the Chetwode Room before the talk.

Supporters of the Old Library are also invited to the preview of “Women in the Special Collections of Trinity Hall”, an exhibition in the Old Library to celebrate 40 years of admitting women to Trinity Hall.

Date: Saturday 24 September 2016
Time: 1:30-2:30pm Old Library Exhibition and seals in the Chetwode Room | 2:30-3:30pm Talk ‘Past Impressions: seals as an insight into medieval life’
Location: Trinity Hall, Cambridge
Cost: Free of charge | booking required

This is an open event for both Trinity Hall and non Trinity Hall members.

Booking: Online booking is available or alternatively, please contact the Alumni and Development Office on 01223 332550. Please book by Monday 18 September. Places are limited so book early.

If you have any enquiries, please contact the Alumni Office on alumnioffice@trinhall.cam.ac.uk or 01223 332550

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Old Library had three very successful events in June to bring the treasures of the past to a wider audience.

Preservation and Interpretation of Seals
Cambridge college libraries and archives contain a wealth of sealed documents. While the documents themselves are generally well recorded and valued for their content, the seals attached to the documents are often less well studied.

Trinity Hall hosted two workshops and a public talk on the subject of seals and sealed documents. The workshops on Friday 7 June were an opportunity for librarians, conservators and museum professionals to hear from two experts in the field, Dr Elizabeth New and Dr John McEwan, Research Associates on the Arts and Humanities Research Council seals projects at Aberystwyth University.

Seals Public Talk

Seals Public Talk

Participants learnt about the technology of creating matrices and seals, the historical and artistic significance of seals, and the approaches for preserving these vulnerable wax objects. Examples of medieval sealed documents from the Old library and from the Archive of Christ’s College were on display. There was also a chance to handle resin facsimiles of historical seals (including one in the form of a fridge magnet!). In addition, there was a lunchtime visit to the Parker Library to view selected seals from the Corpus Christi Archive including a wonderfully sharp impression of the Cambridge town seal.

Studying a resin replica seal

Studying a resin replica seal

Seals are a potent connection with the past. They are highly tactile and many bear the thumb or finger prints of their creators. They deserve to be preserved and studied for the light they shed on the medieval world.

General Admission
Every year the Old Library is open on the afternoon of General Admission for Trinity Hall graduands and their guests. It is a day of celebration when another cohort of students collects their degrees and goes out into the world. The treasures of Trinity Hall are on show, including the college silver and the rare books of the Old Library.

Enthralled by the manuscripts

Enthralled by the manuscripts

Over 200 people visited the Old Library during the afternoon and for many students it was their first time in this hidden gem of Trinity Hall. The visitors were fascinated and amazed by the treasures on show.

Under the Covers
At the end of June the Old Library hosted an event for the Supporters of the Old Library and the 1350 Society. Guests were given a tour of the Old Library and then visited the “Under the Covers” exhibition in the Chetwode Room.

This fascinating exhibition by the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium looked in detail at the physical structure of medieval books – literally under the covers! On display were the traditional materials used for binding manuscripts and early printed books: vellum leaves, sewing materials, oak boards, Nigerian goatskin, tawed alum skins and hand marbled papers. Visitors could look at some of the recently conserved items from the Old Library to see the finished result of the reinstated medieval-style bindings.

Manuscript rebound in the medieval style using a vibrant red Nigerian goatskin

Manuscript rebound in the medieval style using a vibrant red Nigerian goatskin

There were some surprises too! Conservation on the binding of a printed book, Speculum Spiritualium by Richard Rolle de Hampole (London, 1510), revealed that the boards were made up of manuscript leaves which had been pasted together. The conservators carefully separated the leaves and replaced the boards. Some of the leaves are from an early medical manuscript! These leaves have yet to be studied and we would welcome any scholars who would like to look at them.

Conserved manuscript leaves removed from the covers of "Speculum Spiritualium"

Conserved manuscript leaves removed from the covers of “Speculum Spiritualium”

Experienced conservators, Edward Cheese and Bridget Warrington of the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium, were on hand to explain the book-binding techniques and to guide people who had a go at sewing together the leaves of a book. The event gave people first-hand experience of this important medieval craft and helped to bring the past vividly alive!

Coming Up…

The Old Library will be open for two events in September 2013.

The Old Library

The Old Library

On Friday 13 September the Old Library will be open to the general public for bookable tours during Open Cambridge. Booking starts on Monday 19th August via the Open Cambridge website.

The Old Library will also be open to Cambridge alumni for bookable tours during the Alumni Festival on Sunday 29 September. Booking starts on Monday 15th July via the Alumni Festival website.

Please book early for either event to ensure a place on an Old Library tour!

References

Seals and Sealing Practices by Elizabeth A. New,  (London: British Record Association, 2010).

Seals in Context: Medieval Wales and the Welsh Marches edited by: John McEwan and Elizabeth A. New, with Susan M. Johns and Phillipp R. Schofield (Aberystwyth: Canolfan Astudiaeth Addysg, 2012).

For more about the Cambridge Colleges Conservation Consortium see: Collaboration in special collections by Suzanne Paul.

Richard Hampole: in addition to the Wikipedia article there is a biography of Richard Hampole in the Catholic Encyclopedia

Speculum spiritualium. There are several copies of this book in Cambridge University Library ( in addition to the copy in the Old Library, Trinity Hall)

Open Cambridge: http://www.cam.ac.uk/open-cambridge

Alumni Festival:

http://my.alumni.cam.ac.uk/s/1321/interior.aspx?sid=1321&gid=1&pgid=924

Read Full Post »

The archives, libraries and museums of Cambridge are full of the most amazing treasures. But one kind of artefact is all too easily overlooked – the myriad of seals that are attached to historical documents. Seals come in all shapes and sizes and are artworks in miniature.

The use of seals dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, however, the examples of seals present in most Cambridge collections are medieval European (and principally English) seals dating from the 11th century onwards. Medieval seals were attached to documents as proof of their authenticity and were used by royal government, cities, monastic houses, commercial enterprises and individuals much as a signature is today.

Trinity Hall matrix

Trinity Hall matrix

Seals were created by using a metal matrix which was impressed on a green or red wax made of beeswax and resin. From the 16th century onwards the use of shellac became common practice. There is a huge range of artistic sophistication, style and size in medieval and early modern seals: from generic designs bought ready made, through bespoke designs, to the intricate magnificence of the Great Seal.

Elizabeth I Confirmation Charter (1559) with the Great Seal

Elizabeth I Confirmation Charter (1559) with the Great Seal

Seals also provide us with important historical information, in addition to the written content of the documents to which they are attached. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “The growth in government in England can be traced by its use of seals. The Great Seal …, first used in in the 11th century, was augmented by smaller seals, and finally the Privy Seal, the keeper of which was a minister of state. As the power of the seal grew the king sometimes found it necessary to adopt a private sometimes secret, seal for his correspondence”.

Letter from Elizabeth I to the Master and Fellows of Trinity Hall sealed with a wafer seal

Letter from Elizabeth I to the Master and Fellows of Trinity Hall – sealed with a wafer seal

There is much to discover through the study of seals, however, they can be difficult to interpret! Do you have seals on documents in your care, have you come across seals during your historical research and wondered how to interpret them or do you simply have an interest in medieval history? Anyone with an interest in local history and in the wide variety of seals attached to medieval documents will be fascinated by a forthcoming public talk “Making an Impression: seals as a resource for historical research” at Trinity Hall Cambridge on Saturday 8 June at 11am.

The speaker, Dr Elizabeth New of Aberystwyth University, is a medieval historian and an expert on British seals. She is Senior Researcher on the Arts and Humanities Research Council Exploring Medieval Seals project and author of Seals and sealing practices (London, British Records Association, 2010).

The talk is free but booking is essential.

To book a place at the talk please email library@trinhall.cam.ac.uk

Making an Impression Poster

References:

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th Ed.) Chicago, Encyclopedia Britannica, 1974.

Seals and sealing practices / by Elizabeth New. London, British Records Association, 2010.

Exploring Medieval seals blog

Trinity Hall public talk: Making an impression: seals as a resource for historical research

Read Full Post »