Berlin Cab Fare Calculator

A while back I quoted Mark Twain on the subject of Berlin's cab-fare calculator at the end of the 19th century. This was a map where "every street is sectioned off like a string of long beads of different colors". I mistakenly described it as a tramlines map, since Berlin had horse-drawn trams at that time. However it is quite clear from Twain's text that this map was used to regulate hansom-cab traffic.

I have now located an online reproduction of the map dated September 1884. It is described as a Droschken-Wegemesser, a distance calculator for cabs, and it is plain that this is what Mark Twain was describing in his April 3, 1892 article.

The text indicates that each coloured segment was about 160 metres long and about 15 segments, or 2.4 kilometres, could be covered by a cab in a quarter of an hour.

The cabs must have been pretty speedy. Presumably major intersections had traffic policemen, but much of the traffic would have proceeded by the rule of shout and shove.

To ride a bicycle, morning and evening, between the main train station (then the Lehrter Bahnhof) and what used to be the site of the Jerusalem Church takes me 15 or 16 minutes in each direction. My route comprises 21 coloured segments of the map. So on the pedals, I am only about 40 per cent faster than a 19th century A-grade horse.

The reproduction is on a page presenting twelve historic Berlin maps. They have been re-published by the Berlin Public Library and I recommend you visit to see a greatly magnified version (under the heading Mai). Clearly this map is diagrammatic in use, but not diagrammatic in its overall form. The underlying form is a conventional street map.


Road Trip

Lisa Fagin Davis has begun a blog, the Manuscript Road Trip, exploring US manuscript collections, east to west. It has begun excitingly, and who knows, she may turn up a Petrus Pictaviensis Compendium (my current tabulation) or some other treasure as she proceeds.

Lisa is the author of a new book appearing this year, La Chronique Anonyme Universelle, which explores one of the post-Petrus diagrammatic chronicles, compiled around the year 1410 in a French noble library. I'll have to look at her study, since the Compendium, and before that the Great Stemma, are clear roots of this tradition. I'm also curious about what the publisher calls "an innovative image-annotation platform" that allows this roll to be published digitally along with the book.


Cassiodorus Digital

Since I first published several years ago a hyperlinked listing of the 37 diagrams "made up" by Cassiodorus for his Institutiones, two key sources have become available digitally: the great 8th-century codex from Monte Cassino now at Bamberg, Msc. Patr. 61, which contains the complete set, probably in the final form approved by Cassiodorus for publication, and Mazarine 660, which contains some peculiar variations in the motifs used in the diagrams. The tabulated listing now includes links to all these images, making it an excellent tool for comparing their evolution in the first millennium. The drawings from Mazarine 660 are to be found on the Liber Floridus illuminations site.

It is remarkable how much has changed in the 13 years since the definitive article on the Cassiodorus diagrams by Michael Gorman was published and included this comment:
Today it is relatively cheap and easy to buy a microfilm of a manuscript and print it out on paper, but in the 1930s this was a luxury that could probably not even be imagined ... I hope this note is sufficient to stimulate interest in preparing a facsimile of the Bamberg manuscript ... (pages 39, 41)
Since that was written, another unimaginable barrier has been breached and it has become possible for anyone to see these manuscripts at no charge via the internet, making facsimiles less necessary.

This update is one of three data upgrades to the Macro-Typography website that have been accomplished in the past month. The collation of the Great Stemma now contains a properly checked fifth and last set of text variations, from the Gamma manuscripts. This was previously bodged together from Fischer's Genesis edition and my transcription of the Urgell Beatus. The Gamma text is now based on a sounder manuscript, that in the San Juan Bible, with the Urgell Beatus only required to fill gaps. This data entry was a lot of work at an unwelcome time, but means that I can now close off the transcription phase with a good conscience.

The third of the upgrades has been some supplementing of the Petrus Pictaviensis table on my website. The major new find there has been a digitization (by Heidelberg) of one of the manuscripts in the Vatican Library. I have also restored the Walters digitization which for some inexplicable reason I had deleted from the list. This means there is an even wider range of quality digitizations -- 22 -- of the Compendium available for comparison.

In addition to these, I continue to keep an eye out for any more additions to the Stemma of Boethius tabulation I completed in the late spring.

Gorman, Michael. “The Diagrams in the Oldest Manuscript of Cassiodor’s Institutiones.” Revue Bénédictine no. 110 (2000): 27–41.