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Title: Manuscript-waste fragments : identifying the bindings from which they were removed
Author: Murray, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 3221
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2019
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Discarded manuscripts were often recycled and fragments of them used to make, among many other things, elements of bookbindings. In later centuries, these fragments were often extracted. This has resulted in bindings lacking key elements of their structure and fragments lacking a localizable context that might suggest when and possibly where their source manuscript was dismembered. Previous attempts to identify the bindings from which these manuscript-waste fragments were removed have relied on two types of evidence: archival evidence on the fragment, such as shelfmarks, to select the volume, and evidence of the fragment in the binding, such as offsetting, to verify the association between the fragment and the binding. Shelfmarks, however, are not always present or current and without a way to select possible candidate matches, the process of examining candidate matches for offsetting is unmanageable - collections are usually too large to endeavour to check all the bindings in the library for traces of the fragment. This research project set out to investigate whether, in the absence of archival evidence, it is possible to identify the source binding of a removed manuscript-waste fragment. The method devised to do this, which is presented here, is based on the understanding that a manuscript-waste fragment which was part of a binding will have evidence of that binding, that that evidence is sufficiently detailed to indicate features of the binding and that bindings are sufficiently different from each other that they can be distinguished on the basis of their features. This research has found that the binding evidence on the fragment relating to the features of the spine is the key which allows candidate matches to be selected from the library shelves. Examples from the case studies showed that the spine features of these fragments matched a restricted number of bindings in the library and that this method could therefore be used to identify candidate matches. The method devised has proved most successful with endleaves but can also be applied to guards and comb spine linings but is not suitable, at present, for covers. This new method for re-associating fragments with their source bindings will be of benefit to manuscript specialists and binding historians, enabling them to make connections within and across collections.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Conservation ; Bookbinding