Sampling at the Fitz

Work has continued on matters Aldine over the summer, starting with a return trip to Cambridge in mid-July to meet up again with Dr Suzanne Reynolds, a longtime advocate of the project who we previously worked with at Holkham Hall in Norfolk. Suzanne is now working as Assistant Keeper, Manuscripts and Printed Books, at the Fitzwilliam Museum alongside Conservator, Edward Cheese who is also familiar with our work having attended some of our earlier sampling trips to Cambridge and the University Library.
IMG_4492 The aim of the trip was to sample the rich collection of Venetian ‘dogali’, commissions to diplomats issued by the Doge and written on parchment. These documents were often beautifully decorated in much the same manner as the presentation copies of the Aldine press and over the same arch of time. Our aim is to ascertain the species of skin and quality in order to provide some kind of comparative control for the tests undertaken on the Aldine parchment editions. IMG_4497 Amongst the treasures was this beautiful leaf from a commission from Doge Andrea Gritti appointing Pietro Tagliapietra as Podesta of Vincenza in 1535, appropriately decorated with St Mark and his lion, key attributes of the Venetian republic.
It will be interesting to see whether we can detect any species variation in this particular type of parchment text which was produced in the Venetian chancery at exactly the same time that the Aldine Press was in full flow. The samples were carefully posted off to Sarah back in York for processing through the Mass Spec. Thanks again to Suzanne for her support and engagement with the project.

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