Further to the recent (and much-commented-upon) post on Godefridus Aloysius Kinner’s correspondence, I had a snoop around to see what other early modern correspondence roadkill I could scrape off the infobahn’s oh-so-narrow historical lane. The most useful page I found was from the Warburg’s Scaliger Research Project (kindly established by Professor Anthony Grafton): this contained a long-ish list of (mainly printed) correspondence collections (and the like).

Might one of these contain a mention (however fleeting or marginal) of the VMs as it (appears to have) trolled around Europe in the 16th Century, travelling to Prague via south-east France? Even though we can probably eliminate most of them (unfortunately), a couple do stand out as, ummm, “vague maybes”:

ARLIER: J. N. Pendergrass (ed.), Correspondance d’Antoine Arlier, humaniste Languedocien 1527-1545, Genève 1990.

LIPSIUS: Aloïs Gerlo and Hendrik D.L. Vervliet, Inventaire de la correspondance de Juste Lipse 1564-1606, Anvers 1968.

Might Antoine Arlier or Lipsius have noted the VMs as something of contemporary interest? It’s possible… but the odds are against it. Still, mustn’t grumble: one slim research lead (never mind two!) is always better than none at all.

Another nice thing from the Warburg page was a link to the CAMENA / CERA letter digitization project:-

CERA contains 90 printed collections (55,000 pages) of letters written from ca. 1520 through 1770 in Germany and neighbouring countries.

Make of that what you will (I didn’t get very far, perhaps you’ll do better than me).

There are some other leads listed there… so… if you are a history-mad masochist with an interest in the VMs who just happens to find themselves with a day to spare at the Universitätsbibliothek at Erlangen, at the Rare Books & Manuscripts Department (Dousa) at Leiden, or with access to a copy of Krüger’s printed catalogue of Hamburg’s Uffenbach-Wolfsche Briefsammlung, then I guess you’ll know what to do. Good luck! 🙂

One thought on “More early modern correspondence sources…

  1. Rene Zandbergen on December 1, 2009 at 10:03 am said:

    From my relatively small experience in reading old letters, I can only recommend
    it. This is the most direct connection with history that one can get. Even if one
    finds no reference to the Voynich MS (which, statistically speaking, is rather
    likely) it is never time wasted.

    The inevitable question is, why there are so few references to it. I think
    that the mystery of the MS is a modern one. What would it have been to
    an average reader of the 15th to 18th (say) century?
    Possibly just another book in a foreign language he could not read. How
    would he have know that it is actually an unknown language or an
    uncrackable code?

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