I believe I have all of this except one word (please correct any errors):

Reperitur hic animal habens reserva_____ quo suos pullos secum portat et eos uon nisi lactandi tempore emittit. Tale regi Hispanie Granale oblatum est.

Secondarily, 1. Why the macron in “oblatū”? 2. Why “anīal”?

Thanks in advance.

Lorenz Fries, 1525

  • I guess the macrons abbreviate a following “m”. Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 23:18
  • 3
    By the way, welcome to the site! This is a lovely illustration.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 0:52
  • Thank you. The illustration is from Lorenz Fries’s 1525 “Admiral’s Map”. Just a friendly family picnic and a gigantic, incredibly buff opossum… I find on the verso a description normally credited to Simon Grynaeus in 1532: "Christophorus natione Italicus, patria Genuensis, gente Columba…" I’m a little mystified by “gente Columba”. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 2:44
  • 1
    A 'gens' is "a family consisting of individuals who shared the same nomen and who claimed descent from a common ancestor" en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gens. I looked up the quote and apparently there is a variation with 'gente Columbus,' which makes more sense in context (books.google.nl/books?id=HD-nO-wmOcAC&pg=PA20). So: "Christopher, by nation Italian, by fatherland Genovese, by family 'Columban,' i.e. of the Columbus family.
    – Jasper May
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 7:52
  • @Cerberus I believe I saw Marsupial Blackletter Difficulty open for Nirvana back in 93. Thought they had promise. Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


The word is reservaculum, "something used to keep things in", from reservo "keep (back)". I believe this word is used to describe the pouch of marsupials in similar texts from that period. Praesumably, this was before the word marsupial was invented, which is derived from Latin marsupium, "pouch".

Incidentally, you have uon where it should be non.

A plain horizontal mark above a letter normally indicates that a nasal consonant (m or n) has been omitted, in Mediaeval or later manuscript, in languages like Dutch, German, or Latin. Alternatively (but not in this text), it can be used as a general mark of abbreviation.

Note that the mark above the first u in reservacŭlum is a different sign. A mark that looks like ˘ or even a short diagonal line or semicircle can be used to indicate that the letter below it is a u or v, in order to avoid confusion with n or other letters.

  • 1
    Thank you kindly for the detailed response and corrections. I suspected “reservaculum”, but did not find it in dictionaries; glad to have it confirmed. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 2:25
  • 1
    Almost got a +1 sola "praesumably"
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 12:27

I can answer the second part, at least. That's a tilde ĩ, not a macron ī, and it's one of the most common scribal abbreviations, representing a following N or M. So anĩal, tẽpore, oblatũ = animal, tempore, oblatum.

This is where the modern tilde used in Spanish and Portuguese comes from: Latin annum > anno > Spanish año "year". It originated as a small "N" written above the letter, and eventually got simplified into the squiggle you see here.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.