Digita Vaticana Exceeds 3,000

Digita Vaticana, the manuscript digitization programme at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) in Rome, exceeded 3,000 items on its main index page on November 3, 2015, meaning that it is now the biggest digitization program in Italy, having overtaken the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, where the Teca Digitale stalled at 3,000 after using up its grant four or five years ago.

I posted back in May with some metrics, when the BAV program passed the 2,000 point, and will not repeat the main points I made then about double-counting. They still stand and are worth rereading.

Comparing this achievement with other major European programs is not easy. To simplify, I will use numbers for documents created before the year 1600. The BAV tally under-represents its digital content, while including a whole swathe of 18th-century materials, particularly from the Capponi collection. Let us assume that these effects cancel one another out.

A blank search of Biblioteca Digital Hispanica pulls up a remarkable 10,008 pre-1600 hits. I hope somebody in Madrid is blogging about this, because BDH must have crashed through the 10,000 ribbon in the last few days and it deserves to spray around a few magnums of cava to celebrate.

Some probing two weeks back at Gallica in Paris returned a report that it held a whopping 14,975 documents from the same pre-1600 period, but this includes a huge number of single-sheet documents since Gallica scoops up not just library but archival material. I cannot see a way to filter their total for codices only.

A few weeks ago it was possible to get Germany's biggest digitization programme, at the MDZ in Munich to tell you via the search interface that it housed 3,700 pre-1600 manuscripts, but some officious engineer has spiked this. The national German search site, Manuscripta Mediaevalia, which has often been unreliable in the past, returns the number 4,748 if you search for digitized pre-1600 items. I suspect that is too low.

Then there is the excellent e-codices of Switzerland, with 1,404 manuscripts in high quality. They generously encourage you to download them. The British Library, which mean-mindedly thwarts downloading, claims almost 2,000 items digitized from among those curated by its ancient, medieval and early modern manuscripts section, judging by a blog post in late October.

Given these numbers, the BAV can now claim to be a serious player on a European scale. They still have a lot to fix, including poor quality control, a ridiculous watermarks policy and a precautionary copyright statement that hasn't been well thought through. But it's a good start. And remember, they still have 80,000 more items to come.
Here is the November 3 list of 76 items, plus the single item from last week, bringing the total to 3,003. This listing is going to be a work in progress, as I am busy with other things right now. If you can tell me what treasures the unmarked shelfmarks below represent, I will fill in the details later.
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.E.29,
  2. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.19, a celebrated 10th-century codex of Terence, possibly made at Corbie and thought to derive from the even more famous Vatican Terence, Vat.lat.3838 (which is not yet online). Its illuminations include this shelf of masks on fol 10r.
  3. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.25,
  4. Borg.copt.109.cass.III.fasc.6,
  5. Borg.copt.109.cass.III.fasc.7,
  6. Borg.copt.109.cass.VI.fasc.22,
  7. Borg.copt.109.cass.VI.fasc.22,
  8. Borg.copt.109.cass.X.fasc.30,
  9. Borg.copt.109.cass.XII.fasc.38,
  10. Borg.copt.109.cass.XII.fasc.39,
  11. Borg.copt.109.cass.XII.fasc.40,
  12. Borg.lat.338,
  13. Cappon.237.pt.B,
  14. Chig.M.VIII.164, (pseudo) Roberto Re di Ierusalem, Le Virtu Morali. The true author is apparently unknown, according to M. Dykmans.
  15. Pal.lat.50, the famed Codex Aureus of Lorsch, which was added to @DigitaVaticana Oct 26 though it had already been online in Heidelberg for a long time previously (I saw it there in the summer). Klaus Graf points out an extensive November 13 discussion (in German) of the digitization by Johannes Waldschütz.
  16. Pal.lat.60,
  17. Pal.lat.95,
  18. Pal.lat.142,
  19. Pal.lat.145,
  20. Pal.lat.149,
  21. Pal.lat.165,
  22. Pal.lat.204,
  23. Pal.lat.208,
  24. Pal.lat.212,
  25. Pal.lat.221,
  26. Pal.lat.222,
  27. Pal.lat.226,
  28. Pal.lat.259,
  29. Pal.lat.262,
  30. Pal.lat.265,
  31. Reg.lat.762,
  32. Sbath.235,
  33. Sbath.457,
  34. Urb.lat.45,
  35. Urb.lat.73,
  36. Urb.lat.129,
  37. Urb.lat.196,
  38. Urb.lat.212,
  39. Urb.lat.226,
  40. Urb.lat.228,
  41. Urb.lat.264, 1483, De re aedificatoria by Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472). Grafton's Rome Reborn catalog notes, "This book offered a wealth of information, practical instruction, and aesthetic principles to the patrons and architects who would rear the city palaces, country villas, and domed churches of the 16th century." 'This copy has a magnificent trick on folio 1r where the artist pretends the paper has been punched through:
  42. Urb.lat.678 ,
  43. Vat.gr.2615,
  44. Vat.lat.19,
  45. Vat.lat.24,
  46. Vat.lat.43,
  47. Vat.lat.60,
  48. Vat.lat.63,
  49. Vat.lat.70,
  50. Vat.lat.94,
  51. Vat.lat.104,
  52. Vat.lat.113,
  53. Vat.lat.114,
  54. Vat.lat.117, glossed Four Gospels
  55. Vat.lat.125, glossed Gospel of Matthew (Anselm of Laon)
  56. Vat.lat.126, glossed Gospel of Matthew
  57. Vat.lat.130, glossed Gospel of Mark
  58. Vat.lat.142, glossed Epistles to Romans and Corinthians
  59. Vat.lat.145, Pauline Epistles with commentary
  60. Vat.lat.150, Pauline Epistles with commentary
  61. Vat.lat.166, Nicholas of Lyra, Postillae, 14th century
  62. Vat.lat.188, Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, dated 1576
  63. Vat.lat.189, Tertullian, various works, 15th century copy
  64. Vat.lat.225, Lactantius, Divinarum Institutionum
  65. Vat.lat.227, Tres Dialogi in Lactantium by Antonio da Rho, O.F.M., dating from about 1450. Grafton's Rome Reborn catalogue notes: "The humanists found many opponents among contemporary scholastics, one of whom was Antonio da Rho. Antonio tries to discredit the automatic humanist equation of earlier with better by showing that one of the early Christian writers, Lactantius had made numerous theological errors to which later scholastic writers had not been subject. This dedication copy for Pope Eugene IV has a colorful decorative border with a miniature showing the Franciscan friar presenting his work to the pope."
  66. Vat.lat.261, Athanasius
  67. Vat.lat.262,15th century, mainly Prosper of Aquitaine
  68. Vat.lat.350, Epistula
  69. Vat.lat.353, Renaissance manuscript of Jerome's letters to Paulinus, illuminated capitals
  70. Vat.lat.378, theological, mainly Venerable Bede
  71. Vat.lat.397, John Chrysostom, 15th century
  72. Vat.lat.398, John Chrysostom, Homilies on Epistle to Hebrews
  73. Vat.lat.1286, 15th century sermons
  74. Vat.lat.3197, Pietro Bembo's Dante: Divine Comedy
  75. Vat.lat.3834, 9th-century theological miscellany
  76. Vat.lat.7566, Dante's Inferno, scribe Bartolomeo da Colle 1421-84
  77. Vat.lat.14189, Pietro Bembo? miscellaneous letters
If you have any corrections, please use the comments box below. follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for more news. [This is Piggin's Unofficial List 29.]

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