Rare Book School

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Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Introduction to Paleography, 800-1500

Consuelo Dutschke

Preliminary Advices

Please purchase the following books and bring them to class. Reading them beforehand is not necessary, except for the assigned sections of The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books. Please plan on bringing a laptop, mainly for the short evening homework assignments; a CD with the course-pack will be distributed onthe first day of class.


  1. Derolez, Albert. The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century (Cambridge Studies in Palaeography and Codicology 9). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  2. The 2006 paperback edition has a list price of 20/$35; the hardback currently lists at $110/90. Please read the Introduction, pp. 1-27, and The Manuscript Book in the late Middle Ages, pp. 28-45, before attending class.
  3. Cappelli, Adriano. Lexicon abbreviaturarum. Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane, 6th ed. (Milan: Hoepli, 1987; frequently reprinted).
  4. The first edition was printed in 1899, and it's still the sine qua non. (1) If you were in Italy, you could buy a copy of Cappeilli for 24 (ca. $30); high shipping costs (ca 40) discourage any thought of purchasing the book by mail directly from the publisher, but (2) You can get a copy from Blackwells online for 23/$40 + 3.50 shipping = 26.50/$46. (3) If you use one of the international book finding services (such as ABEbooks at ), you'll find a range of prices and selling points (many in Europe) with prices ranging from $40-200. A second-hand copy is fine if it's in viable physical condition. (4) You may purchase an enlarged edition of Cappelli's text on CD from Dr. Olaf Pluta (University of Bochum, Germany) for 99 (ca. $120); the CD has the advantage of being easier to carry about with you to libraries, assuming that you're taking your laptop as well. The disadvantage is that the abbreviations on the CD are presented in a highly formalized late gothic script, which falsifies their actual appearance in manuscripts (the script in the printed volume is closer to reality). For details and ordering information, see . (5) There is an English translation of Cappelli's introduction, published as The Elements of Abbreviation in Medieval Latin Paleography, translated by David Heimann and Richard Kay (Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Libraries, 1982); but there is no particular need to go out of your way to acquire it unless you want it for your own library.
  5. John, James J. “Latin Paleography,” in James M. Powel, Medieval Studies: an Introduction (Syracuse University Press, 1976), pp. 1-68.
  6. A Latin-English dictionary, even a relatively small one.