Scribal Gotcha


Greetings unto you my wonderful readers from across the globe in far flung countries.  I continue to be amazed and grateful at the international interest my blog continues to enjoy. Thank you.  Today I wanted to share a story with you that happened to me this past weekend.  It is a story of scribes being wonderful to scribes.

Some months ago on one of the scribal lists we were discussing how mistakes are found and seen in medieval manuscripts.  They are plentiful and sometimes amusing.  We also discussed how mistakes were dealt with by the scribes at the time.  Some of the “corrections” are very creative and really interesting.  One of the way mistakes were handled was by various kinds of marginalia (comments in the margin) from the scribes.  Sometimes they were more mean spirited than other times.  Cursing the animal that provided the quill pen and threatening to throw the cat that put its paw print on the page in writing are just some things that we discussed.

Alexandre St Pierre said he’d love to do a scroll with mistakes on it but was unsure how acceptable it would be.  I and others said it would be fine.  Myself (and I thought others) said they’d love a scroll like that.

Away goes that conversation and this past Saturday, St Valentines Day – a day that celebrates couples romance – I was at an SCA event with my family.  I had been asked to make a presentation of scroll blanks in court that evening by the Middle Kingdom top signet, Estelle de la Mere.  I started the scroll blank challenge several years ago, that story may be found here, but I no longer run it so that others may have a chance to shine for the work that they do.  I accepted this honor and made the presentation.

I made my presentation giving Estelle the credit she deserved for running the scroll blank challenge for the past two years and to the deserving artists who had made the scroll blanks.  The scroll blank challenge has spread to six SCA kingdoms that I know of and I mentioned that as well.  At the end of my presentation Their Highnesses of the Middle Kingdom acting in regency for their Majesties of the Middle Kingdom, made very complimentary statements about the work of the scribes and thanked me for my work.

Then they invited me to stay for a more formal presentation.  For my work with the scroll blank project and for helping and serving scribes in the known world of the SCA I was given an AoA service award called the Award of the Purple Fret.  I was then presented with the scroll commemorating the award.

Jamin Purple Fret003

Award of the Purple Fret done by Alexandre St Pierre.

This is done on parchment.  He used my inks to write it.  It has all the marginalia we discussed in the group and some we didn’t.  It has mistakes in it, the parchment itself is imperfect, he put cat prints on it and it is a beautiful and wonderful work of labor and fantastically done art.  He even got someone else to translate the comments into latin for him and then included them into the award.  And this is a wonderful moment of “Scribal Gotcha!”.  Even more so when you understand that Alexandre is not from my Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom. Instead Alexandre is from the East Kingdom and had to request and receive permission to do a scroll here for me.

I can not thank Alexandre enough.  Due to weather I ended up being stranded and unable to return home until the next day.  That meant I was unable to express my gratitude appropriately nor give him the word fame he was most certainly deserving of.  I have known Alexandre for years now and we occasionally mention each other on our blogs.  I have great respect and admiration of this abilities. And am thrilled, absolutely thrilled with receiving this award scroll done by his hand.  His version of the story and how the scroll was created is on his blog.

Alexandre, thank you very much.

2 responses to “Scribal Gotcha

  1. What a fun way to start the day. I often incorporate medieval style drawing into my sketchbook, along with flourished initials. And when I make a mistake … (I sometimes do!) … I likewise ‘fix’ it as best I can.
    How I loved Alexandre’s full-on medieval parchment certificate. Well done.

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