Guest blogger Lito Apostolakou is a freelance author, historian, and feature writer at Suite101; she also has a fascinating blog on the history of writing instruments. Here, she writes about seeing one of Leonardo’s notebooks.
It doesn’t look like much, in fact the humble notebook is no bigger than a pack of playing cards, yet it is one of the most precious objects on display in the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The notebook of Leonardo da Vinci which dates from 1490-3 is one of five owned by the museum and it was bequeathed by English collector, John Forster in 1876.
It is packed with tiny handwriting, notes about geometry, hydraulics and weights and (curiously) with drawings of hats. At the time Leonardo compiled his notebook he was working for Duke Ludovico Sforza in Milan and he was probably required to create costumes for court festivities “ hence the hat drawings. The notebook seems to be suffering from ink corrosion (due to the iron gall ink Leonardo used) and is very light sensitive. It was a privilege to have seen it.