Getting reproductions of Mss — the fight goes on

I feel like a challenge.  So I’ve just emailed the Biblioteca Apostolica (or Vatican Library to you and me) and asked how I can get a print-off of some pages from one of their Arabic mss — Vat. ar. 158 (1357 AD), ff. 148r-157v. – containing the unpublished Explanation of the Nicene Creed by Abu al’Majd.  That’s 18 bits of paper.  I can’t see how that should cost more than a few dollars, even with postage.  I’d prefer them to produce a PDF and email it, of course.

Their web page seems claustrophobic with talk of ‘rights’ and ‘fees’.  It will be interesting to see how this enquiry is treated; as a chance to promote scholarship, or an opportunity to screw the stranger.  Let’s hope the former!

8 Responses to “Getting reproductions of Mss — the fight goes on”


  1. mike aubrey

    well, let us know what the result is.

  2. ed cook

    As I understand it, the Vatican Library collection is temporarily unavailable while renovations are being done. Try again in a couple of years.

  3. Roger Pearse

    Gosh, yes, I’d heard but forgotten about them taking a multi-year holiday while some building works are carried out! But I’m not sure whether that applies only to visitors, or to all services. We’ll see.

    My experiences will appear here, of course.

  4. Tony Chartrand-Burke

    (%*&$@$ illegible anti-spam word! now I have to type this all over again)

    The Vatican Library microfilm service is still available during renovations. There might be a bit of a delay getting the material but the BA is normally slow regardless. I just received two Mss from them with little problem (aside from them totally screwing up my mailing address and having the package return to them). In the past I have ordered complete microfilms of the Mss I need and transferred the pages to my computer (by scanning the microfilm). This gives me the permanence of the microfilm with the utility of electronic files. Rights are not much of an issue unless you want to reproduce images from a Ms; the fees for the Vatican are a little high but not extortionate (in the past I have paid a minimu of $0 for a microfilm and a maximum of $300). Good luck.

  5. Roger Pearse

    This is all very interesting, and useful to know.

    How do you scan microfilms? I’ve always found the dratted things unusable.

  6. Tony Chartrand-Burke

    I started scanning microfilms on the suggestion of Stephen Shoemaker. You need a decent scanner, mind you, but I simply lay the film on the glass and scan it at 600%. I then import them into word files, increase the size appropriately and print them out on a good printer. The quality is quite good (much better than using a microfilm reader/printer which looks like photocpies).

  7. Roger Pearse

    Hmm. I might try this, then, as I have a couple of microfilms at home. Thank you for the suggestion.

  8. Roger Pearse

    No response as yet, sadly. Hmm.