I haven’t got the technical vocabulary for any of this, but I do spend too much time on the British Library web site and found a selection of images that might other wise have gone unnoticed . . . because of their obscurity. Never mind my geek points for this one. I’ve fulfilled my quota for the year already.
The following links are to images from the British Library, and depict lecterns and writing desks with wooden supports that I think are turned on a lathe. Ever since I found out about wood turning (chiefly through Robin and Robin) I’ve kept my eye open for artefacts in my research (archaeology and manuscript illustration, mostly), but I’m no expert and could easily be mistaken.
Writing desks were made in a variety of styles in the Middle Ages, some being very plain slanted platforms for secretarial work or dictation and some having elaborately carved panels, cushions, and even canopies. What I link to today are elegant but simple varieties of these; the type of stem used here was popular at least in manuscript illustrations if not in actual use.
Psalm 1 from the Breviary of John the Fearless
(Additional 35311, f. 8) Click on the picture to enlarge it. In this you can see the stand on the right, which is being written in rather then read from--in fact, it is a portrait of David writing the psalms, in 15th c. style.
Arundel 547 f. 94v Luke
This is Luke, who in liturgical tradition was Paul’s scribe, writing both the gospel according to Luke and the Book of Acts, which are full of adventures. The style is Byzantine, and it is from the late 10th century.
Harley 3061 f. 1v Author portrait
An ink drawing of a tonsured monk, who probably died c. 860 . . . you can see the stand has a cloth covering over the top, but it seems to be held by a frame of some sort on which is perched a zoomorphic inkwell. The spiral carving or decorative turning can only just be seen peeking out from under the cloth.
Yates Thompson 21 f. 69v Jean de Meun writing in his study
Late 14th c. portrait of the author; the story is Roman de la Rose. This is perhaps the clearest of all these images to display the form of the stand/lectern. I’d love to have one of these made one day.
And here is a page from a site called Medieval Writing, which incidentally has a nifty little exercise set for palaeography practice.
Anyway, thought that would be interesting to post. I might post a picture, too, if I can find the copyright stipulations in a genial mood.