The length of the sheets in the scroll: 1) 502 mm, 2) 463 mm, 3) 465 mm, 4) ca. 530 mm.
Dimensions of the selected details in the scroll:
- the print: 246x465 mm;
- text panel: ca. 120x83 mm;
- frames with illustrations: ca. 27x72 mm;
- an average letter: 2 mm;
- spaces between the lines of the text: 2 mm;
- the balustrade: ca. 28-30 mm;
- columns between the text panels: ca. 100 mm (height);
- Griselini's signature: 3x12 mm.
Benediction sheet: 170x120 mm.
In general, the manuscript is preserved in very good condition.
A small part of the border on the 3rd sheet is erased or it was not well printed.
This lavishly decorated scroll features a printed border designed by Francesco Griselini which surrounds the handwritten Hebrew text of the Book of Esther. The main part of the pattern consists of a series of arcades, under which the text is inscribed. The text panels are interspersed by columns whose shafts are decorated with different patterns and bases contain floral designs.
The upper margins are filled with a balustrade on which are placed cartouches flanked by flowers and pairs of turkeys, roosters, parrots, or hoopoes with their heads turned away; on each membrane, all four pairs of birds are printed in the same sequence. Additionally, above the cartouches between turkeys and parrots, double-headed eagles are placed, whereas turkeys or peacocks are above cartouches between roosters and hoopoes. The sections with birds are interspersed by vases with flowers or small citrus trees.
The lower margins are decorated with narrative scenes from the Book of Esther, set within rectangular Italian architectural frames separated by the columns’ bases. The scrolls decorated with this pattern consist either of four (as the exemplar from the Rylands Library collection) or five sheets with four text panels on each. Some illustrations are numbered with Arabic numerals.
The scroll is rolled on a wooden roller, however, the manuscript is not stitched to it.
The scroll is accompanied by a benediction sheet that is decorated with a printed flower frame. Its ornamentation does not correspond with the border in the scroll.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew accompanied by a benediction sheet with the blessings recited before and after the Megillah reading
The scroll is formed of 4 sheets containing 16 columns of the text with 28 or 29 lines, except for col. 14 which has 11 lines divided into two half-columns.
The text is inscribed in Hebrew square Italian script, in intense black ink, on the flesh side of the parchment membranes which are of medium thickness and stiffness. The shades of particular membranes vary but in all cases, the hair side of the membranes is more yellow than the side with the text and decorations.
The letters ח (Es. 1:6) and ת (Es. 9:29) are highlighted by its size - they are bigger than an average letter in the scroll. Other enlarged and diminished letters are included in col. 14.
There are hardly any margins around the text columns.
The ruling was made with a stylus along the whole membrane.
Col. 13 contains numerous extremely elongated letters. The horizontals of the elongated letters are not always straight.
The membranes in the scroll are stitched together.
The benediction sheet: every benediction starts with a highlighted word ברוך that is larger than all other words and is written separately. The text includes ligatures of א and ל letters and the Tetragrammaton is replaced by two letters י with a long sloped dash. In one place, the divine name is marked with two letters י only.
Some illustrations bear Arabic numerals:
- sheet no. 2: 6, 7, 9, and 10;
- sheet no. 3 - 11, 18, 13, and 15;
- sheet no. 4 - 16, 17, 14, and 19;
- the illustrations on sheet no. 1 are not numbered.
The letters in the last line of col. 14 are partly written on the printed border.
Around some frames containing the illustrations, blots of black ink are visible.
At the opening blank part of the scroll, there is a tiny letter א.
The final part of the scroll is blank.
The Griselini scrolls are a family of Italian Esther scrolls from the 1740s, in which the decorative and illustrative border is printed and the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther is handwritten by a scribe. The lower-left corner of each sheet features the printed signature of Francesco Griselini (1717‒1787), the Italian engraver who designed the scheme. The decoration features a row of arcades under which individual columns of the Hebrew text of the Book of Esther are written. The scrolls in this family consist either of four or five sheets with four text panels each.
The decorative scheme resembles the ornamentation of Gaster II scrolls. In the Index, megillot Esther confusingly similar to Griselini scrolls, but not printed by Griselini himself, are called "Pseudo-Griselini scrolls". The decoration of Griselini scrolls also resembles that of the Gaster II scrolls, but without decoration at the beginning and the end (see descriptions of "Pseudo-Griselini" and "Gaster II" scrolls and in the Index).
The scroll bears former numbers: R 19744 and 1195.
The manuscript is described in:
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Megillot Esther in the Moses Gaster Hebrew Manuscript Collection at the John Rylands Library: a comparative analysis with reference to Eighteenth-century Italian scrolls [accepted].
Bibliography concerning other scrolls featuring the same border:
Mendel Metzger, The Earliest Engraved Italian Megilloth, "Bulletin of the John Rylands Library", 48/2 (1966), esp. 406–432.
A Journey through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books, eds. Evelyn M. Cohen, Emile Schrijver, Sharon Mintz, Amsterdam 2009, pp. 242–245 (additionally pp. 126-127 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).
Schöne Seiten. Jüdische Schriftkultur aus der Braginsky Collection, eds. Emile Schrijver, Falk Wiesemann, Evelyn M. Cohen, Sharon Liberman Mintz, Menachem Schmeltzer, Zurich 2011, pp. 264‒265 (additionally pp. 246-247 for the Bible of 1739 illustrated with Griselini's engravings).
Dagmara Budzioch, The Decorated Esther Scrolls from the Museum of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and the Tradition of Megillot Esther Decoration in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries – An Outline [Polish: Dekorowane zwoje Estery z Żydowskiego Instytutu Historycznego w Warszawie na tle tradycji dekorowania megilot Ester w XVII i XVIII wieku. Zarys problematyki], Warsaw 2019, 1:128–136.
Biography of Griselini in Italian and bibliography available on http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/francesco-griselini_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed on 11.04.2020).