Manuscript fragments and the bindings from which they were removed: Recording the evidence
University of the Arts, London
Year of enrolment: 2014 -
Supervisor: Professor Nicholas Pickwoad
Fragments of parchment manuscripts can frequently be found as part of the bindings of 16th and 17th century printed books, re-used as endleaves, spine linings and even whole covers. The fragments are evidence of the dispersal of earlier manuscripts and a rich source for palaeographers but they are also important for the study of the binding. The manner in which the fragments are used within the book's structure can suggest where and when the binding was made while pieces from the same manuscript used within multiple bindings may point to their being the product of a single workshop. Localising and dating the binding the fragments are a part of can then show where the manuscript which the fragments were taken from was at a particular point in time.
Such lines of research, however, are dependent on the fragments still being in situ. Unfortunately, they were often removed, and while frequently collected together and retained in the same library, it was not always noted from which book the fragment had been taken. This disassociation of the fragments from the bindings they were once a part of has resulted in a loss of evidence which would be pertinent to the study of both.
The fragment, though, will still retain traces of the binding and similarly the binding may also preserve vestiges of the fragment. My research project will document this evidence with the aim of identifying from which books in a given library the fragments had been removed and by restoring the association between fragments and book, gain a greater understanding of both.