2014-11-28 12:00:00

At the end of November, 2014, collaborating with Earlybook imaging system, we installed the system of watermark digitization in the Institute of Greek and Latin Studies of the faculty of Arts of the Charles University of Prague.

There are two cameras in the earlybook imaging system. One of them is specially adapted to record infra red; the IR can be used either for conventional front lighting or as a source of back lighting. One effect is that watermarks can be detected and imaged. Another effect of IR is that some inks can be ‘removed’ thereby making underlying texts visible.

In the system there also is the primary camera. In addition to producing superb quality front lit images it also uses a 1 mm thick electroluminescent light sheet for back lighting of paper and vellum. Indeed the digital combination of front lit and back lit images has been successfully used to reveal hidden texts (Charles Dickens manuscript of The Chimes in London’s V&A Museum) and hidden drawings (architectural drawings by Robert Adams in Sir John Soane’s Museum). 

London University recently used Earlybook imaging system to “remove” ink stain from historically important book “Ethiopia” (1513).

"Ethiopia"original and digitized version without ink stain

According to representative of Charles University in Prague, habilitated professor Lucie Doležalova, the equipment was purchased for digitizing medieval Latin manuscripts in Czech libraries. This project focuses on reconstructing the medieval library of Augustinian Canonry in Roudnice nad Labem (ca. 100 km north of Prague), which was founded in 1333 and destroyed by the Hussites in 1421, and from which over 160 manuscripts survive. Today, these manuscripts are preserved in various libraries, most of them in the Library of the National Museum.
L. Doležalova states that the impression of digitizing system is very good.

The equipment will be used not only by the Institute of Greek and Latin Studies of the faculty of Arts but also by other Departments and Institutes of the university fopr their respective research projects. It will be especially useful for reading overwritten and scratched out medieval manuscript notes, which may contribute to provenance and ownership identifications.