Several months ago a researcher requested this seventeenth century edition of the Corpus Juris Canonici from Venice. I was surprised and delighted by what I encountered on an initial flyleaf in this volume of Gregory IX’s Decretals.
And of course I couldn’t help but wonder why such a funny little drawing with its firing cannon appears in a volume of canon law (cannon=canon??).
Intrigued by the drawing I decided to see what I could find out about the set this volume belonged to. The four volume set was acquired by the Library on June 30, 1899 from a British bookseller, H.H. Hodgson and Co. The history of their firm can be found in this 1908 London imprint, created “for private circulation.” It is also interesting to note that Hodgson’s dealing in rare and valuable books was a recent occurrence at the time the Law Library made its purchase.
Thanks to our Conservation Assistant, Dorothy Africa I got to learn a little more about the physical evidence in this volume. It was not only printed in Italy but also probably bound there . This is evidenced by the lacing in of the end band cores and not the sewing supports. It has a stiff vellum (sheep?) binding, possibly original to the volume. You can see from below that binding waste was used as a spine liner-it appears to be liturgical in nature. Although you can’t see it very well in this picture, decorative red silk was used to sew the multicore decorative end bands on this volume.
Inside the volume there are two instances of handwritten notes affixed to a page. In the example to the left, the page of notes was pasted in with sealing wax. In another example, not shown, the page of notes was tacked at the corners with thread.
Even with all this wonderful information about the book , the mystery of the drawing’s maker still remains.