Glossary of Professions

The following is a list of professions associated with the art and elements of illumination. Some of these professions, still active today, take on a different more modern definition therefore the descriptions below relate to the career as it was known historically. The careers listed below also refer to the Western definition of the word.

Apprentice

An apprentice is a position in a guild system for training a new generation of practitioners of a trade or profession with on-the-job training and often some accompanying study. Most of their training is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade or profession, in exchange for their continued labor for an agreed period after they have achieved measurable competencies. Apprentices are not not formally part of a guild until they become a Journeyman.

 

Artist

An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. 

 

Binder

A person who binds books or manuscripts as a profession. Binding is the process of physically assembling a book or manuscripts.

 

Bookseller

A person who sells manuscripts and books. Historically they were employed by stationers but could often be an independent seller. The bookseller was free to produce, copy and sell books, illuminate, or write for anyone they pleased like the court, cathedral, or the wealthy laymen of the capital and provinces so long as they met their obligations to the local university who set strict regulations on book selling.  

 

Calligrapher

A person who executes the design and lettering of words or text with a quill, pointed pen, broad-edge pen, brush or other like instrument. They give form and structure to letters in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner.

 

Commissioner

A commissioner, also referred to as a patron or benefactor, is a person or entity which hires an artist or tradesman to create a specific work for their needs. Oftentimes only the wealthy could afford to commission a work due to the high cost of materials and labor. Many commissions were a means of demonstrating power and wealth, or even for propaganda purposes.

 

Colourman

A person who sells and/or prepares pigments, paints, and inks. 

 

Draughtsman

A person who practices or works in an accurate, precisie and technical drawing style. Draughtsman often sets the layout and margins of a manuscript or folio. Draughtsman also refers to the artists who create and design heraldic arms.

 

Engrosser

A person who produced and wrote documents for the court and government in their final form. In England, Engrossers used a style of handwriting called Chancery which comes from working in the royal chancery at Westminster. This writing style developed and morphed into what is now called Engrosser’s script.

 

Gilder

A person who applies an overlay of precious metal or gilt to objects.

 

Gold Beater

A person whose occupation it is to hamme and roll gold into an extremely thin unbroken sheet used for gilding.

 

Illuminator

Someone whose occupation it is to illustrate, paint, lay gesso and gold leaf to create an illuminated image in a manuscript or folio. In the early days of manuscripts the illuminator also worked as a scribe. Later these two professions were split amongst two or more individuals.

 

Journeyman

A journeyman is a position tier in the guild system. A Journeyman who has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification. Journeymen are considered competent and authorized to work in that field as a fully qualified employee. They earn their license by education, supervised experience and examination. Although journeymen have completed a trade certificate and are allowed to work as employees, they may not yet work as self-employed master craftsmen.

 

Librarian

A person who works in a library. They classify, organize, catalogue, and inventory books and manuscripts. Most libraries were established in monsitaries, churches, universities, or wealthy private homes. Within the monasteries, the role of librarian was often filled by an overseer of the scriptorum. These overseers were usually the most senior Monks or Nuns. 

 

Master Craftsman

A master craftsman is the highest position tier in a guild system. Only Masters and Journeymen are allowed to be members of the guild. An aspiring Master would have to pass through the career chain from Apprentice to Journeyman before he could be elected to become a Master Craftsman. He would then have to produce a sum of money and a masterpiece before he could actually join the guild. If the masterpiece was not accepted by the guild, he was not allowed to join as a Master, possibly remaining a Journeyman for the rest of his life.

 

Miniator

A person whose job it is to apply the red pigment (Minium) sketch or underdrawing to the surface of the work that was to be illuminated. 

 

Monk

A member of a religious community of men typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Specially trained monks in the art of illumination or calligraphy worked in monastery scriptorium or library. The femin term is Nun.

 

Nun

A member of a religious community of women typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Specially trained monks in the art of illumination or calligraphy worked in monastery scriptorium or library. The masculine term is Nun.

 

Painter

When referring to illumination a painter is a person who uses pigments, binders, and brushes to create an image or illustration for a manuscript, miniature, document or historiated capital.

 

Paleographer

Is the profession of someone who studies ancient or antiquated writings and inscriptions and deciphers and interprets historical writing systems and manuscripts.

 

Paper Maker

A person who manufactures paper from materials such as cotton or silk to create thin sheets by a mechanical or chemical process.

 

Parchmentier

A person who prepares parchment or vellum for writing and illumination from untanned skins of animals such as calf, sheep or goat.

 

Patron

A patron, also known as a commissioner or benefactor is a person who pays for or commissions works of art on their behalf.

 

Rubricator

Also known as rubrishers, rubicators are specialized scribes who add the additional red text to manuscripts to add emphasis or to highlight important sections.

 

Scribe

A Scribe is a professional copyist often writing or duplicating or copying manuscripts and documents. The work of a Scribe can also include secretarial and administrative duties such as the taking of dictation and keeping of business, judicial, and historical records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities.

 

Stationer

A person who sells and rents manuscripts and books. Stationers often employed booksellers who could sell books on their behalf but only the stationeer could rent books, manuscripts, or peciae to others. In addition the stationier was free to produce, copy, illuminate, and write to anyone they pleased like the court, cathedral, or the wealthy laymen of the capital and provinces so long as they met their obligations to the local university who set strict regulations on book selling and renting.

 

Tanner

A person whose occupation it is to treat the skins and hides of animals to produce leathers by an extensive process used for binding books and manuscripts.

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