Friday, January 20, 2012

Lost and Found

We made a wondrous discovery right before the holiday break. In the late 1960s, Mark Lansburgh '49, donated several medieval manuscripts to the collection, among them two stunning leaves from a fifteenth-century Breviary. The leaves were documented in a catalog of Darmouth's manuscript holdings in 1971, but then disappeared. For at least 30 years we have been tormented by the Breviary. Was it sent back to the donor? Could it have been stolen? Is it somewhere right in front of us and we are missing it? We looked and looked and looked, but to no avail.

Then, this December while reshelving some rare books, one of our staff members noticed an unmarked portfolio in amongst our Shakespeare collection. He pulled it off the shelf and lo and behold, there were the Breviary leaves. They had been shelved incorrectly back when Special Collections still resided in the Treasure Room in Baker Library. Some have theorized that the manuscript had been tucked in with the Shakespeare collection in the Treasure Room so it could be pulled out to impress visitors as a colorful accompaniment to our First Folio, then forgotten. Whatever the reason, finding it was a Holiday thrill for us and for Mark Lansbugh whom we called immediately.

Beneventan Antiphony
Liber Glossarum
Two of the most celebrated medieval manuscripts in the Dartmouth College Library were donated by Mark Lansburgh. The earliest item among his gifts is a leaf of a Liber Glossarum circa 825; it is complemented by another ninth-century piece, a leaf of a Beneventan Antiphony that is perhaps the oldest known fragment containing musical notation found in the United States. Also included in the collection are a series of fourteenth-century accounts, bills, and receipts. The eclectic selection (music, a glossary, and the mundane merchant accounts) helps students piece together bits of medieval life for a deeper understanding of abstract descriptions they discuss in class.

If you want to see the long lost Breviary, come in and ask for Lansburgh 53.

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