Plutei Online

It's time to offer a brief review of the online access to the splendid Plutei Collection at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. I've found this a boon, since it not only offers images of the manuscripts, but also bibliographies which seem to be generated from a database. An interesting feature is that it offers a history spanning more than 100 years, showing which scholars have worked with each document.

When I look at Plut.20.54 for example, I can click on "MOVIMENTI RECENTI and see recent users. Under MOVIMENTI PASSATI, I can trace back its uses for scholarship to Bernhard Bischoff, and go all the way back to WM Lindsay when he consulted this Isidore manuscript in 1896 while preparing his critical edition. I am sure that here in Germany the publication of library lending records would probably be interpreted as a scandalous invasion of individual privacy and lead to the sacking of all the
high officials and possibly prison terms for the librarians. At the Plutei I find it rather touching. The slips amount to a kind of roll of honour of great philologists.

Not everything is perfectly designed however. I found the scans were not really of a high enough resolution for close analysis. A stemma in the Real Academia in Madrid is available in a fantastic resolution where I can see the pores in the parchment, but the Florence scans are so much inferior that in a few cases I had to guess about the shape of penstrokes in the document.

Secondly, while I do not intend to grumble at the lack of an English interface on the site, I did find it a pity there was no easy way to link to specific pages or to download them for later use. The URL in the address bar of the browser always connects to the first page of a manuscript, not the page you may want to link to. However it is possible to count up the number of page turns between the first page and the page of interest, and add the same number to the pagina part of the URL. In fact one can automate this slightly by copying the URL into Microsoft Excel and then using the fill function to manufacture a complete series of page links for the entire MS.

To make a copy to study when not connected to the internet, I found I had to discover the absolute URL for each image first. This is done by right-clicking the image within the Java interface and looking at the properties. But one cannot save this URL: you have to instead copy it out by hand, character by character, and re-enter it in a browser address bar. Press enter and you now get only the image you want, and can save that as a JPEG file.


  1. It's just me or the link for Real Academia is not working?

  2. Just worked for me. The page begins: La Real Academia de la Historia, fundada en 1738, posee una espléndida Biblioteca-Archivo ...