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Scholars study handwritten notes - probably by Copernicus

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Victoria Liss
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« on: January 01, 2014, 07:14:20 pm »

Scholars study handwritten notes - probably by Copernicus
30.12.2013 History&Culture

Source: Fotolia
In the books that had once belonged to Nicolaus Copernicus, researchers found six glosses, or notes written on the margins. According to scientists, there is a high probability they had been written by Copernicus, but research is needed to confirm this.

Margin notes in an incunabulum (this is what the first prints were called) were found by two scholars: Prof. Teresa Borawska of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń and Prof. Zoja Jaroszewicz-Pieresławcew of the University of Warmia and Mazury. The incunabulum belongs to the library of the Seminary of Warmia Metropolis "Hosianum" in Olsztyn. Both scholarls and library director, Fr. Thomas Garwoliński began to study handwritten notes. Work to determine whether these notes were jotted by Copernicus or someone else will take several months.


"It is known that Copernicus’ handwriting changed with age, in his youth he wrote differently than in old age. These are tedious studies, we will focus primarily on comparing these words with other existing hand-written notes of Copernicus" - Prof. Jaroszewicz-Pieresławcew told PAP.


The two scholars stumbled upon the glosses while working on the "Catalogue of old prints" of the sixteenth century. While viewing one of the incunabula, they noticed remarks in handwriting resembling that of Nicolaus Copernicus.


"The incunabulum that contains the glosses is a voluminous tome comprised of several books that undoubtedly had been in possession of Copernicus. We know that he used these books, that they were in his library. Besides, one of them contains a painted bookplate of Copernicus’ uncle, Lukas Watzenrode " - told PAP Prof. Jaroszewicz-Pieresławcew and added that these notes were also found in a law tractate and in the book containing the maxims of Peter Lombard .


In an interview with PAP, Prof. Jaroszewicz-Pieresławcew emphasised Copernicus’ ownership of these books alone, however, was not sufficient reason to conclude that the words had been written by Copernicus, because one of his friends had very similar handwriting.


Director of the Museum of the Archdiocese of Warmia, Prof. Andrzej Kopiczko (this instiution has manuscripts of Copernicus) in an interview with PAP shared Prof. Jaroszewicz-Pieresławcew’s opinion on detailed study of the notes found in incunabulum. "It happened in the past that a manuscript considered to be written by Copernicus turned out to be authored by someone else" - said Prof. Kopiczko .


Prof. Stanisław Achremczyk, director of the Centre for Research in Olsztyn, at which the Copernican Laboratory started operating this year, emphasized in an interview with PAP that finding the glosses showed that "there may still be things left to discover about Copernicus".


"If it is confirmed that these are Copernicus’ notes, it would be quite a phenomenal thing" - he added.


The library of the Seminary of Warmia Metropolis "Hosianum" in Olsztyn has 324 incunabula and 7,500 manuscripts.


PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


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