PGC2019: Mistress katherine kerr’s collection of documents

Mistress katherine kerr submits the following for the recently added category:

Sweet are the uses of adversity“, for research in or practice of an art, craft or past-time that your persona might have undertaken whilst whiling away a siege (or plague)…

…or a long sea voyage and incarceration, being a collection of documents covering the fateful Voyage of the Baskin-Kerrs in an Alternative Timeline.

PGC2019: Mistress katherine kerr’s Printers’ Mark

I do remember an apothecary…
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
An alligator stuff’d, and other skins
Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,
Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,
Were thinly scatter’d to make up a show.

Mistress katherine kerr’s printers’ mark is an item used in an occupation, trade, or task, e.g. a tool, equipment, etc, and she describes it purpose and developmet:

“Father was always interested in Things Mechanikal and invested some money in a printing operation in Venice. When we returned to Scotland, he brought a small press with him and I grew up watching the activity in the workshop. It stood me good stead for taking over the operations, and I now have a printers’ mark of my own which will appear on my works.

Printers’ marks arrived with the birth of printing as a means of identifying the printer responsible for the works. The most famous is that of Aldus Manutius, the anchor and the dolphin of the Aldine Press in Venice (Williams pg 220-222). Many examples of printers’ marks bear a close resemblance to each other (eg Georg Wolf Paris 1494; de Bougne Angers 1500, Julian Notary London 1507, Jean Granjon Paris 1517).

They include a tripartite circle standing for the globe (being Europe, Asia and Africa), and a 4; the meaning of the latter is not definitively known. I have heard it said it is the alchemical symbol for antimony, the “magic” substance which made lead type functional, but it doesn’t match the symbol I’ve seen for the substance.

I’ve based my printers’ mark on the extant example, with some subtle references. It has the tripartite world containing my initials (as per Wolf, Notary and Granjon); the K is taken from the first Roman type used, the 1470 Venetian type designed by Nicholas Jenson.

The 4 comes from the Aldine typeface Bembo, made by Francesco Griffo in 1495, and used in the fabulous Hypnerotomachia Poliphi, still considered one of the most beautiful examples of the printers’ art ever.

The flowery cross is a reference to the map convention of pointing towards a cardinal point (typically a cross for East and Jerusalem, a fleur-de-lis for North); cartography is a strong interest of mine. The actual cross artwork is based on the croce used on the obverse of the Venetian scudo coin, this particular one having been issued by Doge Andrea Gritti (in office 1528-1538, or for most of katherine’s time in Venice 1526-1536)”

PGC2019: Mistress katherine kerr’s “How to puzzle a Knight with the written word”

Mistress katherine kerr describes her entry:

I have some languages: the Scots of my country (though little used here in the Laurel Kingdoms so mostly forgotten); the English of our near neighbour and the close dialects used within the land of Lochac; and a smattering of the Latin and Italian I learned when a young girl living in the Venice of my birth.

This Challenge provided impetus to take a look at Scottish terms, vocabulary and oaths; a surprising number of which were reasonably familiar to me!

One of my long-held SCA disappointments is how difficult I find it to do a convincing accent, so katherine has never sounded particularly Scottish, but I am becoming more familiar with Scots usage in written form.

I had been working on a series of letters to my lord-consort, Sir Radbot von Borg. As I was to be overseas for an extended period, I was missing three tourneys. The letters were given to the Baroness of Southron Gaard for delivery when Sir Radbot made his salute to me.

I used some general Scottish/Elizabethan usage but really went to town in one using an English-Scots translator supplemented with various word lists. By the time I was finished, it was pleasingly well-nigh incomprehensible….

The second letter in the series was scheduled for delivery at the Fiery Nights Tourney — the Feast Day of St Matthew, whose angel stands for the application of reason. The latter was pertinent as the letter expressed concerns for Sir Radbot’s safety in such a dangerous environment where I “have a premonition that [he] may be burned or [his] clothes catch fire or flaming stones rain down upon [him] from on high”.

In this letter, the first page of the bifolium (the folded paper typically used for correspondence) was written in a tight secretary hand using as much Border and Lowland Scots terms and forms as I could muster. So the above-mentioned concern was expressed as: “I hae a firebrod ye micht burn yersel, your claes cuid catch oan fire an you cuid be skelp by a flaming stane fra on hie.”

The second page had katherine’s apologies for “the uncivil tongue which precedes this more harmonius note” as she went on to explain that she asked her secretary to take down her words “never thinking he would transcribe my thoughts into his own broad Border Scots, a tongue I know you do not ken”. She then provided a clear English translation of the original text, albeit somewhat gentler in tone than the Border Scots.

Thus the secretary’s transcription started: “Tha bruit came th’daie hither thit ye war thinkit tae put inta tha firey rammy an a am worriit thon it kin be a glaikit thing tae dae whit wi tha danger n aa.”

Or as katherine put it: “I heard today that you were thinking of entering the Firey Tournament and am worried that it might be an unwise (Scots glaikit = stupid) thing to do given the danger.”

The address included the instruction “make haste” — this was not an uncommon phrase, sometimes repeated again and again, on letters with a time-critical aspect. Cecil and Burghley were known to use this inscription when about Queen Elizabeth’s business.

The letter was locked using a tucked-in format and a seal, based on the form used by Erasmus.

Letterlocking: Desiderius Erasmus’ Tucked Triangle Lock (1517)

I am told Sir Radbot was called up in opening court to receive my missive and spent some time with Sir Sebastian trying to puzzle out the Scots (much easier to do when you try reading it aloud!). It apparently took them some time to notice the second page….

Given that I ayewis gie it laldy, I now have a list of interesting words and phrases I may throw into the conversation and see how they go.

Lang may yer lum reek!”

PGC2019: Mistress katherine kerr’s Materia Medica

This entry, in the category “Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll have none of it”, is by Mistress katherine kerr, who describes it below:

“I keep a small collection of materials to assist in the health of those around me with simples and tisanes and the like. Such knowledge I have from the older folk and a few texts from the ancients recommending treatments, though some of these be more effective than others.

I have long wanted to do a cabinet of curiosities or wunderkammer, and have been collecting items for it (a cowrie shell, some bones and fossils and suchlike). Lacking a highly fancy cabinet or spare room to devote to this, the plan has lain dormant for a number of years until the Baronial Challenge combined with a chance flick through Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists (Maclehose Press, 2009).

Illustrations on page 179 and 235 showed small collections in something akin to a modern shadow box; I had had one of those sitting under a table for many years just waiting for the right project….

So here is a collection primarily of materia medica, to match Challenge 13. It is modelled after the 1470 rendition of the material collection in the Book of Simple Medicines, a manuscript written by Salerno physician Matthaeus Platearius.

The box consists of:

(1) a lapidary shelf containing lynx stones (thought to be petrified urine), otherwise cited as belemnites by Conrad Gessner; white and red corals; a cowrie shell; and a portion of a large snakestone (ammonite)

(2) a shelf of scribal equipment; not exactly medical, but such items as seals and wax were not uncommonly seen on shelves in period portraits

(3) a shelf containing a variety of materials in a variety of containers: spices in a Mary Rose pomander (made by Master Edward Braythwayte) and in cloth bags; pearls and yellow amber beads strung on silk; rose oil in a corked glass jar; and walnuts in a pasteboard container with a skull on top to remind us that Death is always with us

(4) a herbal shelf, holding fenkel seeds; lemon balm; stickadove, more commonly known as lavender; rosemary; and mint unguent

The box is accompanied by writings covering the medical knowledge associated with each material, held together by a leather point, as was common practice.”

A period image of such a item can be viewed here.

PGC2019 Mistress katherine kerr’s bond of manrent, and amendments

The Bond of Manrent between Sir Radbot and me has been extended with an addendum to hold force unto May Crown ASLV. I have been recording Sir Radbot’s tournament wins and losses at both Crown events and the Baronial monthly wappenshaws. To that I have  attached some momentos of the Rose Tourneys he has entered.

The on-going record of Sir Radbot’s tournament standings, and any subsequent honours, is being recorded in the form of an Elizabethan-style jousting cheque, partially in Latin. The script is a secretary hand with sepia (squid-derived) ink using a dip pen.
I had surmised that period contracts would have extensions and assumed these would be cut and sealed onto the originals or sewn together; I have seen examples of manorial accounts and correspondence tied together for archiving. More recently I came across an example of parchment and paper amendments sewn to an original indentured deed of conveyance concerning the sale of land in Stratford in 1611. 
Bargain and sale deed: