Saturday, July 2, 2016

New Albani manuscripts on Vatican Library website

Recently launched by the Archivio Albani is a collaborative project Disiecta membra: tracing the history of the Albani Libraries. This endeavor is supported by the Biblioteca e Musei Oliveriani and, by the ongoing support of Count Clement Castelbarco Albani to the operations of the Archivio Albani. CUA's Rare Books and Special Collections department hopes to contribute in a small way to this exciting initiative. As the locus of the largest surviving collection of Albani books, chiefly from the Urbino library,  the department has been involved with the study of Albani provenance questions for at least 6 decades and holds in the collection several manuscript catalogs describing the contents of the Urbino library.

Crucial to any study of the Albani libraries, scattered by wars, looting and auctions, are three important manuscript catalogs owned by the Vatican Library, recently digitized, and now publicly available on their website. By entering the shelf mark number in the search box, researchers may retrieve Vat. lat. 10476, 10477 or 10485.  These manuscripts, (mentioned by Bernard Peebles in his 1961 article The "Bibliotheca Albana Urbinas" as represented in the Library of the Catholic University of America) have long been considered invaluable to scholars doing research on the Albani books located at Catholic University.  The splendid digital images of the Vatican volumes already reveal binding characteristics very similar to books held at CUA, and access to the contents of these catalogs will undoubtedly shed light on some of the material here in Washington and its complicated provenance.

We are grateful to Dr. Paolo Vian, Director of the Manuscript Department of the Vatican Library for expediting the digitization of these volumes, as well as to Dr. Brunella Paolini (Biblioteca Oliveriana) and Dr. Antonio Becchi (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte) for their hard work in this and other aspects of the Disiecta membra project.

I cugini americani