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
> Choosing a Writing Support > Parchment > Damaged Parchment

Damaged goods

"Be careful what you buy in the city of Erfurt: they sell you animals skins to which letters will not stick." This complaint of a medieval scribe shows that these craftsmen were well aware of the varying quality of animal skins, which they used as the basis for their books. However, calves, sheep or goats that had gruntingly given up their livelihood and skin for the sake of medieval readers were not always to blame.
The most common imperfections are holes produced by the knife of the parchment maker. When he cleaned the skin with his knife, it was strapped on a wooden frame: tight like a drum a small puncture easily became a gaping hole. The art of preparing animal skin was to apply just the right amount of pressure. Readers did not seem to mind the holes too much and scribes usually just wrote around them, or they repaired them.