Columbia Library columns (v.2(1952Nov-1953May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.2,no.3(1953:May): Page 8  

Columbia's Giant Encyclopedia
Plimpton Manuscript No. 263


A LITTLE over five hundred years ago Sir Thomas
Chaworth, head of an ancient and illustrious Notting¬
hamshire family, built for himself a magnificent family
home, Wiverton Hall, within an imposing park. As the huge
beams and stone blocks began to give form to his dream castle,
and later, as the fine paneling and wood carving began to give
character to the regal-size rooms, it may have occurred to Sir
Thomas that among all his store of books he had none in keeping
with the proportions of his new library. Perhaps he recalled, with
envy or delight, having seen as a boy an enormous manuscript in
the library of the near-by Vernon family, or a similar one at the
Simeons, and decided that the Chaworths too should have such
a monumental tome to give proper dignity to their library.

Whatever may have been the incentive which inspired the
ordering of such a book, today visitors to the Plimpton Collection
in Room 655, Butler Library, gaze with admiration and amaze¬
ment upon it—Columbia's largest manuscript and one of its largest
books, written or printed.

The smooth white vellum leaves of this giant volume measure
almost twenty-four inches high by sixteen inches wide. Its nearly
eight hundred pages make it more than six inches thick and, with
its eighteenth-century leather binding over thick boards, give it
a weight of forty-nine pounds so that it taxes a man's muscles to
lift it.

Now large Bibles and even larger choir books for lecterns in
churches had often been written both in England and on the
Continent. It was suitable to have such large books of large pro-
  v.2,no.3(1953:May): Page 8