Thursday, 22 October 2015

Rare books gifs - John Dee, volvelles, apples and things

Culture Themes is a twitter account that organises monthly themed days on Twitter, primarily for museums. This month it was museum gifs - #musgif - and I put together a couple for the RCPmuseum account from some of the star objects from the RCP's forthcoming John Dee exhibition.

To make the first three gifs, I set up the department camera on the department tripod and took a series of photos, stop-motion animation style. Then I layered up the individual images in Photoshop (other editing software is available), cropped them, resized them and saved them as gifs. To make the last, I took a pre-existing photograph and played about with it in Photoshop.

It was quicker and easier that I thought it would be, and I'm delighted with how well the gifs show off the materiality of the books.

If you like rare books gifs, then have a look at what's being posted on Tumblr at places like University of Iowa Special Collections.

One of twelve volvelles in Trithemius, Polygraphie, 1561. The title written on the fore-edge of this book suggests that it belonged to John Dee. It's a book about cryptography, and the volvelles are cipher discs used to encoding or decoding text.

Three-dimensional geometry explained with foldout diagrams in Euclid, trans Billingsley, The elements of geometrie, 1570. This was the first English translation of Euclid, and John Dee wrote an extensive preface to it.

A very hungry bookworm works its way through John Dee's annotated copy of Quintilian, Institutionum oratoriarum, 1540. 

Crab apple tree in Parkinson, Theatrum botanicum, 1640.

The RCP library has the largest known collection of books from John Dee's library. They're catalogued online in the library catalogue.
Addendum: I ended up making another three John Dee gifs and wrote up how I did it.