Palaeography and forgery: Thomas D.’s Book of the Hartshorn in Southwark

Martha Carlin, ‘Palaeography and forgery: Thomas D.’s Book of theHartshorn in Southwark’, in Medieval Londoners: essays to mark the eightieth birthday of Caroline M. Barron, ed. E. A. New and C. Steer (London, 2019), pp. 71–94. License: CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Open Access

“The Hartshorn controversy provides insights into how a title conflict might be disputed outside the courts in fifteenth-century England and reveals the extent of archival research and professional expertise that this might entail. It is especially intriguing to find an account of the use of palaeography as well as diplomatic to argue a case in the 1470s, two centuries before Jean Mabillon’s pioneering publication of De re diplomatica in 1681. Thomas D.’s Liber de la Hertys Horne in Suthwerk (Southwark 204) presents an array of evidence, analyses and arguments that reflect its compiler’s exhaustive title search in the muniments collection of Bishop Waynflete, his research on the dates of London’s mayors and sheriffs in the Guildhall archives, his attempted examination of the muniments at Lesnes abbey and his familiarity with the wax, seals, inks and scripts of the thirteenth century.” (p. 88). Thomas D. is Thomas Danvers (p. 83), who died in 1502.

On Forgeries in Archivalia:

LibraryThing Is Now Free to All

“Since opening in 2005, LibraryThing has charged a fee to catalog more than 200 books—$10 per year, or $25 for a lifetime. We felt it was important to have customers, not an “audience” we sell to advertisers. So we focused on attracting customers who paid us by choice—and kept us alive.

Meanwhile, we created a series of products for public and academic libraries. These include Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, which enhances thousands of libraries around the world. We also made TinyCat, our library catalog for very small libraries. Both of these draw in various ways from LibraryThing infrastructure, software and data, but, in time these have become our primary source of revenue. That gives us the opportunity to make LibraryThing itself entirely free, so nobody has to avoid using LibraryThing because of the cost, or drop a membership for financial reasons.

Our plan was to go free when we rolled out “LT2,” our upcoming redesign. But the coronavirus has changed our plans, along with everyone else’s. A lot of people are now stranded at home, with nothing to do but read and catalog their books, movies, and music. A lot of kids are at home too—free cataloging help. And with the economy in freefall, many are worried about money. We want everyone to be able to use LibraryThing. This is the right time to go free.”

The story of Jacobus Capitein, a former slave advocating slavery

The article (without hyperlinks) wastes great digital potential.

The Dead Sea Scroll fragments acquired for the National Museum of the Bible are all modern forgeries

“Quite a story from Michael Greshko for National Geographic: testing has reportedly proven that the Dead Sea Scroll fragments acquired for the National Museum of the Bible are all modern forgeries. Much more from Art Fraud Insights, including their full report on the findings. See also, The Lying Pen of Scribes. There are implications here for other fragments in collections around the world.”

On forgeries in Archivalia:

Thirteen Digitally Annotated Medieval Mappaemundi

“Virtual Mappa 2.0 is a collaborative project originally in partnership with the British Library, where over a dozen scholars have collaborated to digitally edit a cohort of thirteen early English maps of the world, including the famous Cotton Map, the Cotton Zonal Map and the massive Hereford Map, as well as the Psalter World and List maps, several Higden maps, Mission T-O maps, the Sawley Map, and the Tournai (Jerome) Map of Asia.

Inscriptions on each map are fully annotated with transcription, translation and notes, and contents are searchable across maps. This project is ongoing, with more maps in the queue to be added later this year.

This edition is open-access and free for anybody to use – you can find it here:” (MEDTEXTL-L)

Merit Ptah, “The First Woman Physician”: Crafting of a Feminist History with an Ancient Egyptian Setting


Merit Ptah is widely described as “the first woman physician and scientist” on the Internet and in popular history books. This essay explores the origins of this figure, showing that Merit Ptah came into being in the 1930s when Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead misinterpreted a report about an authentic ancient Egyptian healer. Merit Ptah gradually became a prominent figure in popular historical accounts during second-wave of feminism, and, in the twenty-first century she appeared in Wikipedia and subsequently spread throughout the Internet as a female (sometimes black African) founding figure. The history of Merit Ptah reveals powerful mechanisms of knowledge creation in the network of amateur historians, independently from the scholarly community. The case of Merit Ptah also pinpoints factors enabling the spread of erroneous historical accounts: the absence of professional audience, the development of echo chambers due to an obscured chain of knowledge transmission, the wide reach of the Internet, the coherence with existing preconceptions, the emotional charge of heritage, and even – in the case of ancient Egypt – the tendency to perceive certain pasts through a legendary lens. At the same time, the story of Merit Ptah reveals how important role models have been for women entering science and medicine.

Cutting up Dickens’ letters for handbags is vandalism, fumes professor at Queen’s

A Queen’s University academic has accused a manufacturer of committing “cultural vandalism” by creating a limited edition collection of handbags containing writings by Charles Dickens.

The Charles Dickens leather handbag bears a tiny scrap from a brief note by the Victorian author declining a speaking engagement.

It has been produced by manufacturer Sekre, which is selling the handbags – that have been partly tanned with Champagne – for £2,700 each. Other handbags include letters from Queen Victoria, aviator Charles Lindburgh and actresses Brigitte Bardot and Marlene Dietrich.

Sekre said the writings are authenticated by experts before being carefully cut up and the pieces concealed in a compartment of their limited edition bags, the Times reported at the weekend.

Professor Leon Litvack, a Dickens expert who made headlines recently when he published research which claimed the remains of the famous Victorian author were effectively “body-snatched” in 1870 by two men for their own selfish gain, said he believed the handbags are nothing more than “cultural vandalism”.


Comment by Daniela Cromp (Munich) in Exlibris-L: “This is digusting, but things like this happen constantly: It is also vandalism to break up medieval manuscripts for selling them as single sheets or (even worse) as cut out initials only, but nobody in the trade or the government in any country seems to care! (In my opinion, it even is a crime to buy single sheets of medieval manuscripts, because it indirectly supports slaughtering).”

See also: (German)

Disadvantages caused by the dominance of the English language in science

The success of a scientist depends on their production of scientific papers and the impact factor of the journal in which they publish. Because most major scientific journals are published in English, success is related to publishing in this language. Currently, 98% of publications in science are written in English, including researchers from English as a Foreign Language (EFL) countries. Colombia is among the countries with the lowest English proficiency in the world. Thus, understanding the disadvantages that Colombians face in publishing is crucial to reducing global inequality in science. This paper quantifies the disadvantages that result from the language hegemony in scientific publishing by examining the additional costs that communicating in English creates in the production of articles. It was identified that more than 90% of the scientific articles published by Colombian researchers are in English, and that publishing in a second language creates additional financial costs to Colombian doctoral students and results in problems with reading comprehension, writing ease and time, and anxiety. Rejection or revision of their articles because of the English grammar was reported by 43.5% of the doctoral students, and 33% elected not to attend international conferences and meetings due to the mandatory use of English in oral presentations. Finally, among the translation/editing services reviewed, the cost per article is between one-quarter and one-half of a doctoral monthly salary in Colombia. Of particular note, we identified a positive correlation between English proficiency and higher socioeconomic origin of the researcher. Overall, this study exhibits the negative consequences of hegemony of English that preserves the global gap in science. Although having a common language is important for science communication, generating multilinguistic alternatives would promote diversity while conserving a communication channel. Such an effort should come from different actors and should not fall solely on EFL researchers.