Contemporary laced limp parchment wrapper made from a bifolium of a 14th century [?] Italian missal, rubricated, red and blue initials. Binding for: Francesco Massari, … In nonum Plinii de naturali historia librum castigationes & annotationes. Basel: Froben, 1537. (ExRockey) 2008-0021N •
Massari (fl. 1530), a Venetian physician, comments on the ninth book of the Natural History of Pliny (1st cent. AD), covering fish and marine life. The work’s editor, Beatus Rhenanus (1485-1547), stated that Massari’s comments were based on his extensive voyages and observations in the Mediterranean and Adriatic.
Illustrated above is the wrapper folded out completely. The parchment fragment is the upper two thirds of a bifolium. Scribal text is two columns per page, with red and blue initials. Visible at middle are the original sewing holes. To the right of the center fold are the sewing supports (for the leaves of the 1537 imprint) laced into the wrapper. At far left, there is a flap designed to cover the book’s fore-edge. An extremely detailed scan of the entire wrapper is available
For more on the use, re-use, and continued use of so-called “waste” from broken and / or discarded books, see the following section on the topic in the Library’s online exhibition on bookbinding. The link is:
For more on limp parchment wrappers, see:
For the future, the Library will keep the wrapper intact and protected by a specially made enclosure. • In sum: • First use: bifolium of a missal • Second use: protective wrapper for a book printed in 1537 • Present and future use: vivid example of how the frugal decision of a bookbinder provides multiple evidence about the survival of texts.
More on this later topic can be found in Nicholas Pickwoad, “Onward and Downward: How Binders Coped with the Printing Press Before 1800” in A Millenium of the Book, ed. Robin
Myers and Michael Harris. Winchester: St. Paul’s Bibliographies, and Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 1994, pp 61-106.