The $400 PDF-microfilm of the unpublished 13th century Arabic Christian historian al-Makin was rubbish and unreadable. I complained and was ignored. I complained again two days ago, and threatened to involve VISA. Today I got a note asking me to return the CD for checking, which makes no mention of the first note. Clearly persistence is necessary in dealing with the BNF. I always feel rather helpless, confronted by a massive bureaucracy. I’ll let you know how I get on.
On a different note, I wonder just how many unknown medieval manuscripts of the bible there are? I came across a press release by Norfolk Record Office (NRO), about an exhibition of manuscripts belonging to a now deceased collector, one Denys Spittle:
The oldest book in the exhibition is a copy of the four Gospels, probably from Constantinople that dates from the 10th century.
This sounds like a job for CSNTM! So I wrote to the NRO, asking if the ms. has an Aland number, etc. No-one seems to know, and NRO won’t give me the contact details of the owners. The Denys Spittle Trust isn’t in the Charities Commission database, nor at Companies House. Still, if they’re willing to lend the manuscript for an exhibition like this, they ought to be willing to allow the experts at CSNTM to catalogue it properly and record it. I’ve forwarded the details I have to them.
But of course this naturally leads you to wonder just what else exists in private hands?
I’ve been feeling rather unwell for the last few days, after an unsuccessful dental root treatment, so don’t expect much substantive from me this week.