Utilizing i2s’ SupraScan Quartz A0 and its considerable digitization know-how, the Digital Initiatives Lab of McGill University’s McLennan Library have successfully reproduced a true-to-life facsimile of a 15th century antiphonal from the early Italian Renaissance, bringing the unique treasure nearly 600 years into the future to be marveled at and perused by eager, 21st century eyes.
Ristech Company of Burlington, Ontario originally sold the SupraScan system to McGill back in the summer of 2017. Since that time, the university has utilized the system to scan a varied assortment of rare and fragile documents in their collection. This latest undertaking posed unique challenges to the members of the digitization group. The massive 55 by 36 cm. manuscript, bound in leather and wood and embellished with unique brass bolting, contains 143 fragile vellum pages of a Gregorian Chant, with medieval Latin gothic script and musical notation meticulously printed upon luminous red, four line staves. The rare document, known as “MS 73”, has been housed in McGill’s famed special collections for generations, having been acquired by a patron in Florence, Italy in 1930.
The digitization team at McGill created a customized cradle to minimize curvature while gently and securely holding the valuable document in place. Once the manuscript-laden cradle was placed into position inside the SupraScan’s frame, the Quartz’ high-definition CCD camera passed swiftly overhead and imaged each set of pages at a 600 PPI optical resolution. The end result was the creation of uncompressed, full-color output files at an exact 1:1 ratio, suitable for both color-accurate physical reproduction as well as high quality, digital enlargement for present and future research and analysis.
The remarkable image quality achieved as a result of this challenging initiative offers ample evidence of the Quartz’ versatility and value, characteristics that make it a robust, top-of-the-line offering in Ristech’s extensive collection of digital imaging solutions. Originally designed for the reproduction of large, flat format items, the SupraScan has consistently shown its effectiveness in handling of fragile, oversized bound documents such as MS 73.
Now in its third decade as a respected supplier and reseller of specialized optical imaging equipment, Ristech is both pleased and honored to have an ongoing part in the exciting ensemble of McGill’s and many other noted institutions’ digital preservation ventures.