A new life for old manuscripts

The College collection includes just 10 medieval manuscripts (or those created before 1500), and we’ve explored many features of ALL of them over the past 10 months.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be showing off some of our incunabula (books printed before 1500) that were bound in manuscript waste.  Yes, not only were ‘old’ manuscripts used as binding support material (see this earlier post), but they were also used as covers.

It was common practice for early bookbinders to cut up and use pages from outdated or unwanted manuscripts as binding material.  This practice lasted until the 17th century, when unwanted manuscripts became more difficult to find.

The College holds at least 4 incunabula bound in music manuscripts, and several others bound in text manuscripts.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at some of them.


Incuncabula bound in manuscript waste. Top, left to right: ZDa 71a 1488; Z 39a; ZQb 2b 1495. Bottom, left to right: ZQb 2b 1495; Na 50; 9 158; C 294 1490; Qd 63; Z9 26.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *