Libraries Supporting Digital Scholarship: The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies as an Object Lesson
November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
This is an extremely useful discussion of important work going on the field of manuscript studies by Dot Porter of SIMS at Penn.
A version of this talk was presented as the keynote for the annual meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries – Delaware Valley Chapter, in Philadelphia PA on November 6, 2014.
Thank you very much, and thank you especially to Terry Snyder for inviting me to speak with you all this morning. Today is a good day to talk about the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS); after this talk I will be heading down the hall to attend the annual SIMS Advisory Board meeting, and tomorrow and Saturday I’ll be attending the 7th annual Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscripts in the Digital Age. So this is an auspicious week for all things SIMS.
The topic of this talk is the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies and how it may be considered an object lesson for libraries interested in supporting digital scholarship. Penn Libraries has invested a…
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Dunedin, Hewitson Library, Presbyterian Research Centre, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, Book of Hours in Dutch
July 14, 2014 § 1 Comment
Dunedin, Hewitson Library, Presbyterian Research Centre, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, formerly Knox College (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 118), Book of Hours in Dutch, Netherlands, second quarter fifteenth century.
A. H. Reed purchased this manuscript in 1920 and gave it to the college. It was one of his earliest gifts. The manuscript is in a contemporary binding of polished calf that has been described meticulously by de Hamel. Perhaps its most interesting feature from our point-of-view is that, as he comments in a letter kept with the manuscript, it is probably the oldest binding in New Zealand. Its only rival might be the Selwyn College Malogranatum,though we would also note that the recycled boards on Auckland Public Libraries MS G. 143, described earlier, could well be from an even earlier binding.
Thanks to the Hewitson Library for permission to reproduce the photographs.
 See also Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2007), pp. 12, 18.
 Manion, Vines, and de Hamel, No. 128.
March 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
Auckland, St John’s College MS 1 (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 49), Bible, Germany, fourteenth century.
This is the binding and part of the text of the so-called Bischewo Bible, acquired by A. W. Reed around 1925. It is in a modern binding structure, but on this has been “mounted” the old, late fifteenth- or sixteenth-century boards that formed one of its early bindings. These boards are covered in tanned calf (once a rich dark brown, but blackened over time). The cover has been extensively tooled. The decoration is described in detail by Manion, Vines, and de Hamel: the binder used panels, stamps, rolls, and “fillets” (roll tools used to create decorative rules). Images of Adam and Eve, the crucifixion, and the brazen serpent are matched by words “PER ADAM MORS”, “PER CHRIST. VITA”, and “NUM. 21”.
We can add detail to Manion, Vines, and de Hamel’s description of the “metal fittings” on the book. These are very elaborate. The book had two fastenings, which closed in the German fashion, so that the catch plates appear on the edge of the upper board. Indentations show that there were also anchor plates but these and the straps and hook-clasps they bore are missing. The catch plates have been decorated with a pattern of engraved lines and turned circles. Their mechanism is comparable to that depicted in Szirmai, Figure 9.47 [a]. The book also had brass corner guards and strips of brass forming protective guards all around its edges (some now missing). The corner guards comprise a separate boss attached to a single nail (visible in the case of one guard on the upper board where the boss has come off) mounted on a corner piece made from sheet metal (see Szirmai, Fig. 9.55  and -).
It is of note that the binder nowhere prepared the board for the fastenings or furnishings, and that where these have been lost the cover is decorated. This suggests that the metal fittings were added after the book was bound, and not necessarily by the binder who applied and decorated the cover. Extensive furnishing of this sort was most common for “frequently used works and books to which the public had access”. Also of note are fragments of paper from an early printed book that appears to have been used to reinforce the binding in some way – perhaps as pastedowns. The words that are visible on these fragments are in a “gothic” – textualis — fount.
Thanks for the John Kinder Theological Library, Auckland, for permission to use the photographs, and to Helen Greenwood for her help.
 See also Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2007), pp. 18-19, 37-38, 40, and Ian Dougherty, Boots and Books: The Story of New Zealand Publisher, Writer and Long Distance Walker, Alfred Hamish Reed (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2005), p. 112.
 J. A. Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Farnham: Ashgate, 1999), p. 263.
March 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, on deposit in Otago University Library (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 130), Conrad of Brundelsheim, Sermones, Germany, fourteenth/fifteenth centuries.
This is the only medieval binding in New Zealand with a cover made of tawed pigskin rather than calf or sheep (pigskin has a particularly distinctive pattern of hair follicles, larger follicles in groups of three amid a dispersion of very small follicles—see Szirmai, Fig. 9.34 [b]). Pigskin first becomes a common binding material on German books of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and is more common there than on books from other regions.
In this case, the cover is on two flat wooden boards, with slightly beveled edges: the boards are attached to the textblock by three double, tawed supports, which pass over the outer edge of the boards in the typical late medieval style. The cover has a decorative pattern of intersecting triple-blind rules. This book no longer has a chain, or remains of a chain, attached; but there are “marks from a chain hasp at top centre” of the lower board. The manuscript is also interesting because it recycles early manuscript material in the form of binder’s waste, containing in the front a strip of vellum (bound upside-down). Our description here follows that of Manion, Vines, and De Hamel closely, but we can add that we were able to identify the leaves as from a Psalter, with the remains of Psalms 65:9-67:5.
Thanks to Otago University and Selwyn College for permission to reproduce the photographs, and to Donald Kerr, Special Collections.
February 6, 2014 § 1 Comment
Wellington, Alexander Turnbull Library MSR-15 (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 133); part of St Matthew’s Gospel, glossed, Italy, mid twelfth century.
This is one of the manuscripts acquired by the then British and Foreign Bible Society in 1932 from Masterton printer Albert Clemas (who had purchased it a few years earlier in London) and now on loan to the Alexander Turnbull Library.
The binding is fifteenth-century. The cover is now gone, leaving the beveled wooden boards bare. The quires are sewn onto three double, tawed thongs, which were once stained crimson. They were laced directly into the boards’ edges and emerged in small straight channels in the outer face of the boards, where they were secured using iron nails. There are two endbands—plain stitching over single, red-stained, tawed cores which were laced in a similar style at the corner of the boards. A piece of white tawed leather has been used to line the spine where the stitching for these endbands enters the quires.
If the book ever had a cover, its disappearance while many other features of the binding remain intact may suggest it was textile. A tiny fragment of textile adhered to the inner face of the upper board, and the smooth surface of the boards adds to this supposition: the surfaces of wooden boards were roughened in various ways to improve the adhesion of leather covers. If the cover were textile, then it would have matched the book’s silk fastenings nicely. Fragments of the green silk straps are visible on the upper cover, fixed into grooves cut in the boards by three radiating ornamental brass nails. The hooks do not survive; the catches are on the lower board, as is often the case with Italian books; they have a simple trefoil shape very similar to Szirmai’s Fig. 9.54 [i], an Italian type. They are embossed: the letter “s” is used twice on the upper catchplate, and once on the lower, with a small floral stamp.
Two endleaves from a medieval manuscript survive. They are palimpsests; the manuscript that was used was copied in a late medieval documentary (i.e. cursive) hand with red capitals but the text is illegible.
Images here are reproduced by kind permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library; thanks especially to Ruth Lightbourne for her assistance.
 See Hollis and Barratt, “Introduction: The Formation and Reception of Medieval Manuscript Collections in New Zealand,” in Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2007), 17; Christopher de Hamel, “The Bible: Illuminating the Word,” in The Medieval Imagination: Illuminated Manuscripts from Cambridge, Australia, and New Zealand, ed. Bronwyn Stocks and Nigel J. Morgan (South Yarra: Macmillan, 2008), 19-23 (22).
 See Hollis and Barratt, “Introduction,” 16-17.
 J. A. Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Farnham: Ashgate, 1999), 230.
February 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Med. MS S.1588 (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 40), Antiphonal, Italy, sixteenth century.
The binding of this book is at least its second—an earlier set of sewing holes is visible in the quire folds (see for example fols 132-3). Manion, Vines, and de Hamel describe it as bound “in post-medieval calf over wooden boards (re-covered but possibly using original boards and fittings).” They note the use of leaves from several medieval manuscripts for fly leaves (an early twelfth-century Italian copy of the Latin life of St Donatus; a late twelfth/thirteenth-century Italian Missal; and a sixteenth-century Italian choirbook). From the same evidence we conclude that the present binding is in large part sixteenth-century, contemporary or near contemporary with the manuscript itself, despite later conservation work—which means that it falls within our definition of “medieval” bindings.
Several features of the binding are of note. It is a very large book and bound in two heavy wooden boards (260 x 370 mm and >15mm thick). The edges of these boards are beveled all around, including at the spine edge; the boards are otherwise flat. The cover is tooled, ruled blind using finely patterned fillets and small stamps—single leaves and trefoils—appear in corners of the lozenges created by the rules and surrounding the metal furnishings. The book has two strap and pin-style fastenings. These close from the lower to the upper board (as was sometimes the case in Italian bindings). The book has also been fitted with five bosses at the corners and at the centre of both the upper and lower boards. One of these, from the upper board, has come away from the book and is kept in a separate box. Each boss is set on a small plate of metal, the whole structure fashioned from a single sheet of brass (contrast our upcoming blogpost on Auckland, St John’s College MS, where similar bosses were separately cast and mounted on a sheet). The book also has small plain brass “heels” on the edges of the boards at both head and tail.
The book has a headband, simply stitched in plain thread over a brown leather core. It has not been laced into the boards, though this may be the result of later repair/recovering of the book. Instead, a few stitches affix it to the leather covering the spine. In this sense it resembles a “glued-on” endband in that it is a purely decorative feature (see the blog posts on Alexander Turnbull Library MSR-26 and the Canterbury Sallust).
Emerging from the spine of the book are eight linen bookmarkers, now mostly in faded beige thread, but with some indications that they were once dyed green and yellow. We were unable to determine how this device was attached by the binder. Bookmarks of this kind appear in art of the late medieval period quite commonly but only rarely in books themselves. Similar bookmarks can be seen, for example, in the famous image of St Jerome removing a thorn from the lion’s paw, c.1445 (oil on panel) by Niccolo Antonio Colantonio, now in the Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy (a book with linen markers resembling the ones we have here appears on one of the shelves behind Jerome). Several books in Exeter Cathedral Library in England contain similar bookmarks, made from long strips of tawed leather rather than linen cords (for example, Exeter Cathedral MS 3515 which has a five-tailed leather marker, the upper end of which was stitched into the leather cover over the spine).
 See also Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2007), 60.
 Manion, Vines, and de Hamel, 70.
Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Med. MS S.287, Pierre d’Ailly, Meditationes super Septem Psalmos Penitentiales
February 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Med. MS S.287 (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 36), Pierre d’Ailly, Meditationes super Septem Psalmos Penitentiales, France, second half of the fifteenth century.
When this book was purchased by Henry Shaw in 1905, the bookseller’s catalogue description highlighted its “original binding of oak boards covered with ornamentally stamped leather.” The book is bound on five double, tawed supports which have been laced into its two wooden boards over the top of the outer face of each board. The edges of the boards are beveled. The leather used for the cover is tanned sheepskin; it has been decorated within two frames of four blind rules. The tooling is described in detail by Manion, Vines, and de Hamel. Of special note is the “roll-tool of double half-rosettes interfilled with quatrefoils” that they describe. Roll tools were, much like panel stamps, an earlier medieval invention that took hold in the context of printing, late in the fifteenth-century and especially in the sixteenth; like panels, they enabled binders to decorate large spaces of covers quickly. The book once had two fastenings, affixed to the top and bottom of the outer edge of each board, but only the holes left by nails and plates in the leather and boards now remain.
Also of interest here, in part because it is something of a contrast to the quite elaborate tooling of the cover and the use of five supports, are the book’s two endbands. These are composed of a very narrow (> 5mm diameter) core of tawed leather sewn with plain thread. The result is rather flimsy, and the attachment of the endbands to the quires is “abbreviated”—we can see only five threads attaching each band to the fifteen quires of the textblock. (More elaborate and sturdy medieval endbands were often sewn into every quire.) Like the roll, the abbreviation of endband attachment was a way to speed up the binding process, and is seen more commonly in the late fifteenth century and the era of print than earlier in the Middle Ages. Endbands with abbreviated sewing were a harbinger of the “glued-on” endbands that also begin to appear in this period, providing decoration but no structural function to the book—see our blogposts on Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Med. MS S.1588 and Alexander Turnbull Library MSR-26, and the discussion of Canterbury University Library manuscript of Sallust’s De Bello Jurgurthino in our Script & Print article, pp. 215-7.
 See also Migrations: Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. Stephanie Hollis and Alexandra Barratt (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2007), 5, 63 and 186.
 Donald Kerr, “Sir George Grey and Henry Shaw,” in Migrations, ed. Hollis and Barratt, 49-71 (64).
 J. A. Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Farnham: Ashgate, 1999), 243-45.
 Nicholas Pickwoad, “Onward and Downward: How Bookbinders Coped with the Printing Press 1500-1800,” in A Millennium of the Book: Production, Design and Illustration in Manuscript and Print, 900-1900, ed. Robin Myers and Michael Harris (Winchester: St Paul’s Bibliographies, 1994), 61-106 (80-85).