The avid researchers of the Rare Book Project are Koncz Krisztina, Unger Ágota, and Zsifcsák Emese (Behind the camera and the project: Zsolt Almási).
Have you ever found a hundred-year-old book at home? Did you feel that you were holding a piece of history? The English Department’s Rare Book Project allowed our research group to do just that. The first time we entered the Old Book Collection housed on the second floor of the Faculty Library, it was like stepping into a hall full of the masters of the Seven Liberal Arts and the monks who were studying in their fields.
As we started examining the records it soon became evident that our first impression was not far from the truth: from mathematics through theology and astrology to several volumes of literature we discovered masterpieces from all disciplines. While looking for English works we were sometimes put off the track by spectacular covers, gorgeous inner illustrations and decorated spines. Along with the documentation of the books, the shots of these beautiful embellishments could form an album of their own.
We met every week from the beginning of the term and opened over a thousand records and old books to check whether they were in English or not. The pile of the selected literary works started to grow until it filled at least five shelves. We had to proceed with care when opening these old books to protect both the books and ourselves: some of the books were badly damaged and needed very careful handling, and we had to wear gloves and masks to protect ourselves from the dust that emanated from them.
After the autumn break we spent a day categorizing the books according to disciplines and first edition dates. After sorting them we took photos of the cover pages and uploaded the shots to our Facebook group, which we had previously used for communication only, and by December we started creating a database of these records in a Google spreadsheet. It has been really amazing to see the growth of the database, to check out the bibliographical details of these enchanting old books.
As we are finished with this phase we will introduce you to the mysterious authors and inform you about spellbooks, if we find any. Stay tuned for the news to come!