In youth, I spent interminable hours copying out by hand long passages of the Bible for Sunday school. I also remember dutifully copying out lecture notes in school and feeling grateful for mechanical pencils (no sharpening!). These days, I use my phone to snap a picture of some text, printed or handwritten, and in a few moments have an OCR (optical character recognition) converted text file to save, share, or copy-paste however I want. The motivations behind these actions are different, but I had reason to reflect on the far cry between such modes of copying when I happened upon this title in Burke’s Special Collections:
Eröffneter Weg zum Frieden mit Gott und allen Creatüren, dürch die Publication der sämmtlichen Schrifften Christiani Democriti
Produced in the 18th century, well into print culture, this very long manuscript copy of an already printed publication is an intriguing item that was quietly posing as a printed book among thousands of others in our special collections. I happened to open it in the process of measuring a number of our rare books for preservation boxes, and noticed that it was not actually print. We’ve since reclassified it into Burke’s manuscript collection.
The 2 volumes contain over 2,000 hand-written and -drawn pages, painstakingly copying not only the text but the printed ornaments from its source.
Even the frontispieces are drawn in imitation of [probably] etchings.
(For comparison, a printed copy of the title held by Princeton University can be viewed here: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/9377442)
We welcome and invite you to view this or other special collections held by the Burke Library; to learn more about visiting our library or to make an appointment please visit our website.