Rare Books Blog

February 16, 2010

 

Fragment: Missal (France?)
Date: c. 1150-1225

Found in: La Pape, Guy de. Lectura subtilis et aurea … Guidonis Pape. [Lyons: for Simon Vincent?, 1517.]

The parchment cover for this 16th-century book is made from a medieval missal. The folio visible here contains the chants, prayers, and readings for celebrating Mass on the first Sunday after Easter, the Octava Paschae. The service opens with the introit (introitus), an antiphon sung as the priest approached the altar. Here the text is accompanied by neumes (early musical notes) that appear to be of the German or Saint Gallen variety. Next comes the collect (oratio), the prayer said before the Epistle reading, which here begins “Presta quaesumus omnipotens…” The Epistle reading is 1 John 5:4-10, and it is followed by the Gospel reading, which starts with John 20:24. Along the deteriorating spine of the book you may be able to see that additional manuscript fragments were used as linings.

    – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Thanks to the following individuals for their assistance in the preparation of this exhibit:

 

Moshe Bar Asher

Academy of the Hebrew Language

Binyamin Elizur

Academy of the Hebrew Language

Ezra Chwat

National Library of Israel

Margot Fassler

Yale University

Shana Jackson

Lillian Goldman Law Library

Ivan Marcus

Yale University

Laura Saetveit Miles

Yale University

Michael Rand

Academy of the Hebrew Language

Anders Winroth

Yale University

 Thanks also to our colleagues in the blogosphere who helped spread the word about the exhibit, including:

Finally, thanks to all the members of the Medieval Academy of America who attended an open house for the exhibit on March 19, 2010, during the Academy’s 2010 Annual Meeting, and especially to those who provided additional information on the manuscripts on display: Elizabeth Brown (CUNY), George Brown (Stanford University), Lisa Fagin Davis (Simmons College), Consuelo Dutschke (Columbia University), Dennis Dutschke (Arcadia University), Joseph Dyer (University of Massachusetts-Boston), David Ganz (King’s College London), Susan L’Engle (St. Louis University), William Mahrt (Stanford University), Hope Mayo (Harvard University), Richard Rouse (UCLA), Matthew Salisbury (University of Oxford), Alison Stones (University of Pittsburgh), Rod Thomson (University of Tasmania), Linda Voigts (University of Missouri-Kansas City), and Mary Wolinski (Western Kentucky University).

– Benjamin Yousey-Hindes & Mike Widener, curators

 ”Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Antiphonal (Italy)
Date: c. 1050-1150
Found in: Denari, Odofredo. Refugium advocatorum. Milan: Giovanni Giacomo da Legnano, [1522].

The unassuming example presented here is one of the more unusual medieval items in the Law Library’s collection. Originally, this 16th-century book was covered with a piece of parchment from a medieval antiphonal with music for the divine office on the feast of Saint Paul (January 25). At some point the parchment fell off or was removed, leaving behind a remarkably clear ink transfer of the music and text on the board beneath. Although the writing appears in reverse as a result of the transfer, it is possible to make out the text as well as a series of musical notes (called “neumes”). These neumes are arranged around a single red line which, according to letter-clefs in the margin, marks the F-line. Approximately fifteen different styles of medieval neumes have been identified, and this fragment has characteristics of the Beneventan and Messine varieties. Much of our understanding of the history of medieval musical notation has relied on fragments found in localized bindings.

   – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

Fragment: Breviary (Germany)
Date: c. 1150-1200
Found in: Mascardi, Alderano. Communes i. v. conclusiones, ad generalem quorum cunque statutorum interpretationem acommodatae. Frankfurt: Wolfgang Richter, 1609.

The fragment of a breviary seen here was cut in half to make the cover for this book, and it remained in place for almost four hundred years, accented by decorative pieces of stamped leather. When a bomb exploded in the Law School in May 2003, the book got wet, causing parts of the cover to come unglued. When the book was repaired, the cover was removed completely, allowing us to see both sides of the fragment. What we find is a portion of the service for Lauds on the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost. The end of the reading (from Proverbs) is followed by the lesson (attributed to the theologian Bede around 700), and an antiphon based on the Gospel passage that forms the subject of that lesson (Luke 8:10-13). The neumes here are of the Messine variety, arranged on a four-line staff with the F-line in red.

   – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment, and to George Brown (Stanford University) for correcting the identity of the text and its attribution to Bede.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 16, 2010

 

Fragment: Breviary (England)
Date: c. 1225-1325
Found in: [Year Books, Edward III.] Regis pie memorie Edwardi Tertii a quadragesimo ad quinquagesimum. London: Richard Tottell, 1565.

 

Here we find a good example of how 15th- and 16th-century bookbinders used fragments of medieval manuscripts as “strengtheners.” Strengtheners are strips of parchment or paper that were wrapped around the inner edge of the first and last sections of a book in order to protect them at the point where the paper might otherwise rub against rough portions of the binding. The Law Library has about twenty-five early books with visible fragments of medieval manuscripts used as guards in this way. While most are not large enough to be displayed well, some of the fragments can be identified. As we learn more about the bookbinding trade in the first several decades of print, even small fragments will become valuable pieces of evidence about the distribution of manuscripts in the late Middle Ages.

The strengthener seen here is from a breviary with both sides featuring elements of the Divine Office for Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). On the left side we see a decorated initial “A” beginning the first reading for the service of Matins (Lamentations 1:1-2). On the right side we see pieces of the music and text for short liturgical chants called “antiphons,” which were used to introduce the Psalms during Lauds. Notice how the initials in the antiphons have been lightly decorated with little faces.

   – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 15, 2010

In 15th- and 16th-century Europe, reusing and recycling was second nature. Linen rags were turned into paper, human urine was used to create lye, iron was melted down and refashioned. Bookbinders, for their part, cut apart discarded medieval manuscripts and reused the strong, flexible parchment in their bindings. Untold numbers of these fragments have survived until the present day, some completely hidden and others strikingly obvious. Each of these slips of parchment can help historians recover a bit more information about the distribution and popularity of medieval texts, the evolution of scripts, and the history of printing and binding.

The Yale Law Library houses nearly 150 early printed books whose bindings incorporate visible pieces of medieval manuscript. These fragments range in size from tiny scraps that can barely be seen, to entire sheets used to cover large volumes. Regardless of their size, each fragment offers both a keyhole peek into the medieval world, and a glimpse of Europe as it encountered the power of print.

In this exhibit we have tried to display books that reflect the diversity of medieval material that can be found in the Law Library’s bindings. As you explore, note the many styles and grades of medieval script, and the way scribes organized information and decoration on the page. Also, mark how bookbinders used the fragments, and the range of medieval texts to which they had access. (Bear in mind that books were often bound far from the city where they were printed.)

Only a small portion of the Law Library’s medieval material is featured in this exhibit. In addition to the many fragments, the Rare Book Collection holds 21 complete medieval legal manuscripts, and 136 books printed before 1500. If you would like to make use of these materials for your own research or teaching, please contact the Rare Book Librarian.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Fragments from a liturgical service book, ca. 1225-1325, bound in a volume of Year Book reports for the reign of Henry VI (London, 1500?-1547?). Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 15, 2010

Fragment: Bible
Date: Before c. 1100
Found in: Constitutiones marchie anconitane noviter emendate. [Perugia:] Franciscus Baldassaris, 1502.

Early Latin-speaking Christians used several versions of the books of the Bible, which had been translated piecemeal from Greek and Hebrew. Between 382 and 405, the scholar and theologian Saint Jerome translated anew the entire Old and New Testaments. Jerome was born in the Balkans, educated in Rome, and spent much of his life living in seclusion in the Levant. His new Latin translation—now referred to as the Vulgate—was highly influential and by the 13th century was effectively the standard text of the Bible.

The leaf of the Bible seen here is from a manuscript most likely produced in the 11th century, though possibly earlier, making it one of the oldest texts in the Law Library’s collection. The outside of the folio features most of chapters 38 and 39 from the Book of Ezekiel. While the visible portion of the fragment is quite plain, the text on the underside is marked by two colored initials. Note how an early owner of the Constitutiones marchie anconitane, not planning carefully enough when labeling it, was forced to create a unusual ligature of “M” and “A” within the abbreviation for “marchie.”

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Pages

Subscribe to Rare Books Blog