e-codices newsletter

The e-codices newsletter provides information about the latest updates, highlights, and activities of our project and appears about 4-5 times per year.
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The e-codices team

In this issue
  1. 62 new manuscripts and three new libraries
  2. Specific Manuscript: Bible with Masora Magna and Masora Parva from a private collection
  3. New Sub-project: Romansh manuscripts
  4. 2017 objectives achieved and an outlook for 2018
  5. Christmas Greetings
December 2017

Issue N° 31

Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, A VI 38, f. 3r – Libellus of John the Evangelist

62 new manuscripts and three new libraries
With this fourth and last update of the year, e-codices has grown to 1,947 manuscripts from 79 libraries. The new manuscripts for our latest update come from a total of 12 different collections. They include 30 manuscripts from the Universitätsbibliothek Basel, of which no fewer than 19 are from the Carthusian Monastery of St. Margarethental, most of whose collections the university library is planning to edit online over the coming years.

Treasures from the Burgerbibliothek (1 manuscript), the Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire de Fribourg/Kantons-und Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg (3 manuscripts), the Eisenbibliothek in Schlatt (3 manuscripts), Couvent des Cordeliers Fribourg/Franziskanerkloster Freiburg (3 manuscripts), the Médiathèque Valais/Mediathek Wallis (6 manuscripts), and the Solothurner Staatsarchiv (7 fragments) expand the digital collection. In addition, there are two more manuscripts from private collections.

Finally, we are adding manuscripts from three new collections: Romansh writings from the Chesa Planta in Samedan (a museum of home décor and an important library for Romansh literature) and from the Dorfarchiv Bever, both in Grisons, as well as an almost unknown epistolary dated 1342, which today is held in the parish archives of Tesserete (Ticino).
Specific Manuscript: Bible with Masora Magna and Masora Parva from a private collection
This valuable Sephardic Bible was created in the first half of the 14th century in Spain, probably in Castile. It features illuminated Masoretic lists at the beginning and the end. The biblical text is accompanied by the Small and the Large Masorah. The book has had an eventful history: From Spain and Portugal it went to Thessaloniki, from there to Alexandria, and in the 20th century it was on the fine arts market; today it is part of a private collection.

Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum, JUD040, f. 1v – Bible with Masora magna and Masora parva – with elaborate micrographic elements.


Samedan, Chesa Planta Samedan, Ad 109, f. 1r – Joseph da Iacobb (Drama about Joseph)

New Sub-project: Romansh manuscripts
Romansh is the fourth national language of Switzerland. It is spoken only in the Canton of Grisons; today there are about 35,000 speakers who use it as their main language. It can be easy to forget that this language has commonly been used as a written and literary language since the 16th century. Until now, e-codices contained only three Romansh texts (among them interlinear glosses from the 11th century and a passage from a document copied in an urbarium of the 14th century). With this update we begin a new sub-project, initiated and directed by Prof. Dr. emer. Georges Darms. A representative selection of the oldest Romansh manuscripts will now be made publicly available.
2017 objectives achieved and an outlook for 2018

2017 was a successful year, marked by growth and stability. This was made possible through the continuing support from Program 5 (formerly P-2) of swissuniversities. With 247 newly edited manuscripts, 2017 even slightly surpassed the prior year with regard to publications. Technical work this year concentrated on background, not immediately noticeable for the user: All technologies were updated, the development environments were standardized with Vagrant, and provisioning was automated with Ansible. Thus performance was greatly improved and load speed for large files was increased fourfold.

The most important and most difficult challenge, however, remains the creation of a sustainable model to ensure the stability of e-codices. We are developing such a model together with the three largest manuscript libraries in German-speaking Switzerland (Universitätsbibliothek Basel, Stiftsbibliothek Sankt-Gallen and the Berner Burgerbibliothek) and the two largest manuscript libraries in French-speaking Switzerland (Bibliothèque de Genève and Fondation Martin Bodmer in Cologny). The coming year will be critical in deciding whether e-codices will endure or be brought to a close.

Christmas Greetings

We have selected several Christmas images from the e-codices collection. Feel free to share these with friends as a holiday greeting. We wish you and your family, Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year ! the e-codices team

Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland
Rue de l’Hôpital 4, CH – 1700 Fribourg

T + 41 (0) 26 300 71 57
F + 41 (0) 26 300 96 27


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