Re-blogged rocket cats

I don’t endorse the militarization of cats but I note that said cats don’t seem to upset with the circumstances. Perhaps this records a brief and terrifying moment of military ascendancy amongst European felines in the late 16th century, now largely lost to history.

Unique at Penn

I was puzzled when a friend asked me a few weeks ago if I’d seen the “rocket cat” illustrated in a Penn manuscript which had been featured on the book blog BibliOdyssey in November. The image, from what was described as a 1584 “Feuer Buech” manuscript, appeared to show a cat and a bird propelled by rockets towards a castle.

I enthusiastically retweeted the image and began trying to figure out just what was going on in the manuscript [1]. Since then, the “rocket cat” has gone somewhat viral, appearing in the Atlantic, BoingBoing, and elsewhere. Given the illustration’s new-found fame I thought it would be worthwhile to provide a bit of context.

The illustration above comes from UPenn Ms. Codex 109 which came to the library as part of the Edgar Fahs Smith history of chemistry collection. This manuscript is one of several at Penn

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