Quill Books before print mediamediamediamediamediamedia
choosing a writing support
making quires and sheets
preparing the page
copying the text
correcting the text
decorating the book
binding the book
using the book
> Binding the Book > Binding Fragments

Stowaway

When Gutenberg invented moving type, handwritten books quickly went out of fashion. Many of these books became the victims of recycling at the hands of binders, who cut up manuscripts to use them for added support in the book bindings they made for new printed copies. The fragment in this image, for example, serves as a flyleaf. Like cars at a scrap yard, medieval books were mutilated and plundered for parts until almost nothing was left.
Single pages and small strips were cut away from handwritten books and pasted onto the boards and spines of their printed cousins. There they remained, hidden out of sight, covered by the leather of the binding. In spite of their mutilated appearance, these fragments can be of great importance. The early history of the Bible, for example, could not have been written without the fragmentary evidence retrieved from early-modern bindings. While of modest size, the stowaways form "blips" on the map of Europe, showing that a certain text was available at a certain moment and location.