Monday, May 22, 2017

Mini-Catalogue 174: Mostly Fragments and Leaves

It was interesting over the past several weeks to see news stories crossing my Facebook-desk about recent discoveries in the field of incunabula fragments: a fragment of the Gutenberg bible still in place as a binding wrapper and a new Caxton leaf. 

Just as I pick up medieval manuscript binding fragments when I can, I also pick up recycled incunabula fragments when I can, though I've never found a Caxton or Gutenberg leaf--and perhaps I never shall. 

But among my recent acquisitions have been a number of interesting recycled fragments, both manuscript and print, and my new little mini-catalogue 174 describes them in some detail. 

4 early English printed leaves, 1530-ca. 1553. Note the
acidic paper frames on the two rightmost leaves, and the
remains of a similar frame on the second leaf. These frames
are evidence of long association of these leaves.
Readers will see, also, that I've included some early printed leaves that show no clear sign of having been recycled in bindings: like medieval manuscripts, early printed books were (and sometimes still are) often enough cut up for the market. I generally try to steer clear of such items, but now and again, I come across some leaves that were probably dispersed the better part of a century ago. It seems to me that such leaves should not be spurned: they, too, sometimes have something important to tell us about the history of books. 

One lot in the catalogue involves a big lot of twenty such leaves, which seem to have travelled together for a long time now. Another lot includes two leaves, probably from the same English book, that I have been able to bring back together.

Such leaves are out there: it is our task to do good for them, when we can.

No comments:

Post a Comment