Reflections: Rainsford MSS at UPenn

As previously noted on this site, the University of Pennsylvania recently acquired a collection of manuscripts, fifty-eight to be exact, from Alnwick Castle in England. I was fortunate enough to be able to examine a number of them while on a recent trip to Philadelphia, with many thanks to the university staff for such early access.

I had initially been intrigued by a manuscript entitled Heptameron des Ludowici Zypri ani de Mongold, which at first glance appeared to reference both Abano’s Heptameron and The Grimoire of St. Cyprian – separate works – at once.  However, much of this work is in a highly stylized German script, and my not knowing German has put a damper on this mystery, so I hope to do more research on this in the future.

The collection also contains a very nicely bound Sepher Raziel, the classic work of Solomonic magic, and a Key of Solomon with a particularly colorful frontispiece. The internals are extremely neat and the various seals were created on loose paper and pasted in. All in all, a meticulously crafted volume.



Lastly, I was surprised to find buried in a volume I chose to peruse by chance a copy of the infamous grimoire Livre des Espirits, known by its copy (in French, as this is) in Trinity College, Cambridge, catalogued as O.8.29. It has a note following that it was from the library of Dr. (John) Dee, the famous Elizabethan occultist and father of the Enochian system of magic, something not mentioned in Boudet’s paper (Les who’s who demonologiques de la Renaissance…) should we believe the alleged provenance of the end note. (Many of Dee’s papers did end up at this library, however, so it is very possible.)




As of this writing, these items are all being catalogued and have not been digitized, though I was able to get some images for my own researches. It’s a very interesting collection that I think will be a valuable source of further research.

Colin Campbell

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