Ker's Introduction (1954)

Ker's introduction to the original 1954 volume (pp. vii-xvii) presents, in his characteristic succinct style, a clear and suggestive overview of the book's topic. It outlines the various ways in which the research could be of use of scholars, as well as summarising the conclusions that can be drawn about the destruction of manuscripts over the sixteenth century. It is presented here with only minimal changes, to reflect the change of format from page to screen, and with short updates inserted into the author's footnotes. For Ker's own guidance on how to use his list of pastedowns see his Scope and Arrangement.

At each end of a modern bound book there is commonly a piece of blank paper folded in two. One half of the paper is pasted to the inside of the cover and is known as the pastedown. The other half is the flyleaf. This method of strengthening the binding has been used since the Middle Ages, the only difference being that the endleaves then consisted of parchment instead of paper. Another method used by many sixteenth-century binders, especially in Oxford and Cambridge, was to employ separate sheets for pastedown and flyleaf, the flyleaf being a piece of paper, either blank or from a printed book, and the pastedown a piece of parchment from a medieval manuscript.[1] The leaves of manuscript thus employed form a principal part of the binding fragments in our libraries, fragments which are intimidating in the mass, but which can be made more tractable if we pay attention to the different ways in which they were used and the different dates and places at which the binders worked. We can classify the fragments as pastedowns, wrappers, flyleaves, reinforcing strips, or pasteboard pads, and can note whether the bindings in which they occur are English or continental, medieval[2] or sixteenth century, and, if English and sixteenth century, whether from London, Oxford, or Cambridge,[3] or an undetermined locality.

I am concerned here with the fragments used as pastedowns by Oxford binders. These are especially numerous, because manuscript pastedowns were used during a longer period at Oxford than elsewhere, regularly between c. 1520 and c. 1570[4] and commonly or occasionally during the half-century on either side of these limits. At Cambridge Spierinck, Siberch, and Godfrey in the twenties and thirties of the sixteenth century, and their successors in the forties, fifties, and sixties, employed manuscript in the same way as the Oxford binders, but they did not continue to do so after 1570. In London on the other hand manuscript was not in general use for pastedowns at any time and seems to have been used hardly at all after c. 1540. The prolific binder John Reynes never used it, preferring blank paper endleaves folded in the modern way and reinforced by a narrow strip of parchment manuscript pasted beneath the pastedown along the part of the board adjoining the back. The custom of using manuscript to cover the inside of the boards is, it seems, among English binders, mainly an Oxford and Cambridge custom before 1570 and almost exclusively an Oxford custom after 1570.

Of 513 English rolls listed in J. B. Oldham’s English blind-stamped bindings less than a hundred are of any concern to the student of manuscript pastedowns. Forty are ‘Oxford’ and fourteen are the Cambridge rolls of Spierinck, Siberch and Godfrey. Only another fourteen are important. With one exception they are rolls used chiefly in the thirties, forties, and fifties of the sixteenth century. Eleven of them are almost certainly Cambridge rolls, since they occur commonly on the bindings of books in Cambridge libraries and of books which belonged to Cambridge men, for example on Edmund Guest’s at Salisbury and on Andrew Perne’s at [p. viii] Peterhouse.[5] Two, both used by the same binder, are not at present localizable.[6] One, earlier in date than the others, is a London roll.[7]

At the end of the century a Cambridge binder, apparently of German origin, used manuscript occasionally as pastedowns.[8] Apart from the work of this one man, the only post-1970 bindings I know of which have leaves of medieval parchment manuscript as pastedowns, and are not demonstrably Oxford bindings, are Balliol Coll., 660.b.15 (1577), Christ Church, Allestree Libr., a.7.16, (Antw. 1584), Oriel Coll., 2Z.g.11 (Ausonius, 1588), Pembroke Coll., Cambridge, 1.4.21 (Gen. 1588), St. John’s, Cambridge, cc.19.5 (Cicero, 1575), More Church (J. Piscator, Herborn I 59s), York Minster, 8.1.16 (1576). These bindings bear small centrepieces. They may be Oxford work, but, for lack of evidence, I have not included their pastedowns in my list.

Half a century ago very little was known about English bindings of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. Since then Gibson and Gray have written monographs on the early Oxford and Cambridge bindings respectively and more recently Hobson and Oldham have discussed the work of all the English binders of the Tudor and Jacobean periods.[9] They and others have charted a new and fruitful field of learning. A book in a contemporary binding has now an added interest, because we know where and when it was bound and therefore presumably used. Now that we can recognize and date Oxford bindings we know more about what was read in Oxford. We know, for example, that Oxford medical students and practitioners read the De consensu medicorum of Giovanni Batista Baccanello. It is a thick sextodecimo, well suited for the pocket. At least three copies survive in Oxford bindings of the mid-sixteenth century.[10] This aspect of the study of bindings is quite irrelevant here, but it is too important to be passed over without mention. The literary and historical importance of many of the books bound in Oxford in the fifteen-thirties and fifteen-forties is impressive. Many are in Greek or are Latin translations from the Greek. The books in Oxford bindings of the two previous decades are on the whole much more old-fashioned, although one translation from the Greek, the Origen of 1512, seems to have been immediately popular.[11]

The manuscript pastedowns can be studied not merely as objects of interest in themselves, but as leaves of manuscripts which were taken to pieces by binders at a particular place and date. Knowledge of this sort is almost useless if applied to a few bindings and pastedowns only: there is great virtue in numbers. The more bindings we can list the more closely we shall be able to date them, and the more pastedowns, the more clearly we shall understand the history of medieval manuscripts in the sixteenth century. Fortunately enough pastedowns still exist in Oxford bindings to show fairly clearly what kinds of manuscripts the binders had at their disposal at different times in the century. At first, in common with binders at Cambridge [p. ix] and elsewhere, they used chiefly the texts of the canon and civil law, taking their share of the many ponderous manuscripts, Digest, Code, ‘Parvum volumen’, Institutes, Decretum, Decretals, Sext and Clementines, which were turned out of the libraries during the fifty years 1490 and 1540 and replaced by equally ponderous printed copies.[12] They did not, it seems, make much use of the manuscripts of the medieval Latin translations of Aristotle and of the medieval commentaries on Aristotle until the middle of the century. These manuscripts were not, like the legal manuscripts, simply replaced by printed editions of the same texts and commentaries. Their places were taken by printed editions of the revised Renaissance translations of the texts, translations of Greek commentaries which had not been current in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, and, for those who could use them, texts and commentaries in the original Greek. Many manuscripts of the outmoded medieval Aristotle are likely to have been ‘dumped’ in Oxford when the collections of books circulating among the fellows of colleges were finally dispersed. Of 265 books distributed in the ‘eleccio’ of philosophical books at Merton college in 1519, not one is now known to exist : certainly not one is now in the college library.[13] For one reason or another two of the most important kinds of book used by the medieval university student, the texts of the law and of Aristotle, exist in college libraries now only in a few copies, most of which have been preserved probably because they were unusually handsome.[14]

As we should expect, service-books were rarely used as pastedowns, at least in Oxford, before 1540. Nor are they common in bindings of the forties. They were used extremely frequently in the fifties and often afterwards.

The availability of twelfth-century, and, therefore, as a rule, handsome and legible manuscripts for use as pastedowns is surprising. It is both gratifying to find that the Oxford binders made little use of them before 1550 and shocking to find that they were still using them as late as 1590 and even in 1600 and after, when the value of manuscripts was once more recognized, and when such books as nos. 932, 945 and 1062 would have been welcome in many libraries.[15]

Oxford bindings of the middle of the sixteenth century are numerous and as a rule closely datable. We have, for example, forty-two volumes[16] bearing Gibson’s roll IX in combination with roll X, all probably executed between 1544 and 1550 by the principal binder then at work in Oxford.[17] Thirty-three of them still have their pastedowns which have been taken from some twenty-four manuscripts, mostly substantial volumes of theology with a range of subject and [p. x] date which suggests that by the second half of the almost all kinds of manuscripts were in danger of destruction. It is as follows:  

  1. A missal, s. xii (no. 467).
  2. Decretum Gratiani, s. xiii in. (no. 361).
  3. Jeremiah with gloss, s. xiii (nos. 396, 476).
  4. Isaiah with gloss, s. xiii (no. 399).
  5. Proverbs, with gloss, s. xiii (no. 506).
  6. Augustine, De quantitate animæ, s. xiii, a copy with Grossetestian signs in the margins (nos. 418, 444).
  7. Jerome’s commentary on Minor Prophets, s. xiii ex. (no. 390).
  8. Theology, s. xiii-xiv (no. 388).
  9. Works of Gregory, s. xiv (nos. 324, 381, 382, 383, 472).
  10. A commentary on the civil law in an Italian hand, s. xiv (no. 325).
  11. W. de Pagula, Summa summarum, s. xiv (nos. 373, 398).
  12. A commentary on the Psalms, s. xiv (no. 553).
  13. Scholastic theology, s. xiv ex. (no. 549).
  14. Theological questions, s. xiv-xv (nos. 332, 397).
  15. A commentary on the Ethics (?), s. xiv-xv (no. 378).
  16. A vocabulary, s. xiv ex. (no. 453).
  17. Nicholas of Lyre on the Pauline Epistles, s. xv (nos. 326, 379).
  18. Revelations of St. Brigit, s. xv (nos. 387, 393).
  19. Also 20. Scotus on the first book of the Sentences, s. xv (nos. 394, 455, 544, probably representing two different copies).
  20. See 19.
  21. Lathbury on Lamentations, s. xv (no. 375).
  22. Theology, s. xv (no. 432).
  23. A table to a theological work, s. xv in. (no. 545).
  24. Philosophy, s. xv (no. 345).  

A few fragments are of special interest because we know that they are disjecta membra of manuscripts which belonged in the Middle Ages to the libraries of Merton College and All Souls. Evidence of this sort is hard to come by and is the more welcome because it provides a basis for the assumption that fragments used by Oxford binders are likely to be for the most part fragments of books removed from the Oxford college libraries, or, in the case of service-books, from the college chapels. The binders had of course other and possibly important sources of supply, the unwanted legacy of the Middle Ages in private hands, the service-books discarded from churches and chapels in the Oxford district, the wreckage of the libraries of the religious houses in the town and neighbourhood, the wrappers and flyleaves of books sent for rebinding, and perhaps even manuscripts imported from decayed libraries far from Oxford.[18] Nevertheless they must, surely, have relied mainly and increasingly upon the overcrowded libraries of the colleges to supply them with books for use as pastedowns and wrappers. The fragments in question are pastedowns nos. 995, &c., 1081, &c., 1246, &c., and wrappers no. 6 at All Souls and no. 37 at Merton. [p. xi]  

               1. Nos. 995, 1168. The sixteen leaves of no. 995 are pastedowns in the great Antwerp edition of the Bible, which Francis Milles gave to All Souls, 1 April, 1581. The All Souls Inventory contains an entry recording the gift and the fact that the college itself paid the binding (fo. 43v)and we find in the college accounts, under the heading ‘Variæ expensæ’, the payment of eleven pence ‘for Royall paper for ye new Bible’, of 36/- ‘to dominicke [Pinart] for binding ye same’, and of 10/- ‘to Jhon Frenchman toward ye makinge of bosses and claspes for the same’.[19] Pinart may have complained that he had no manuscript suitable for use as pastedowns in books of this size. There is, needless to say, no record of the circumstances in which he was allowed to use for this purpose part of a handsome copy of the commentary of Ralph of Flaix on Leviticus which warden Richard Andrew had presented to All Souls a hundred years before and which still exists in the college library (MS. 13). The manuscript ends now with the first leaf of quire XXVI, probably 36 leaves being missing beyond this point. Sixteen of these leaves, from quires XXVII—XXX, now line the boards of the eight volumes of the Antwerp bible and two others, from quire XXX, were used by Pinart on another occasion in binding no. 1168.

               2. Nos. 1081, 1299, 1300 and 1301, fifteen leaves of a copy of the Optics of Alhasen. They include, fortunately, a flyleaf, bearing the Merton College ex-libris (no. 1301), and the first leaf of the text (no. 1299), from which it can be calculated that the second leaf, now missing, began with the words ‘ex colore illius’. These words are the ‘secundo folio’ of a copy of the Optics recorded in the fourteenth-century catalogue of philosophical books at Merton and in various later college lists of books circulating among the fellows, the latest of which is dated 1452.[20] The words are not to be found in the printed edition of Alhasen (Bas. 1572) or in the only continental manuscript which I have consulted, Royal 12 G.vii, but they occur in the English manuscripts, Sloane 306 and Corpus Christi Coll., Oxford, 150.[21] The binder who used these leaves (c. 1590?) is no doubt Pinart.  

               3. WMe37. A leaf used as a wrapper of the Merton College steward’s book for the third term of 1596 comes from the Pantheologia of Peter of Cornwall, and belonged, as script and decoration show, to the now missing third volume of a set of the Pantheologia in three volumes which is entered in the College Register, a.d. 1486, as the gift of John Gigur. The other two volumes are still in the college library (MSS. 191, 192). Eight more leaves of the third volume are among débris at Merton: they appear to have been used as pastedowns, not as wrappers.  

               4. WAS6. Forty-one leaves of a copy of the Clementine constitutions, used as coverings to a series of enrolled ‘abstracta chartarum’ of College estates. They include the whole of the first quire of the manuscript. The second leaf is inscribed ‘Liber collegii animarum’, but its opening words, ‘de mandato clementis’, do not correspond with the ‘secundo folio’ of any of the copies of the Clementines listed in the medieval All Souls book-lists.  

               5. Nos. 1246, 1249, 1728, 1730, 1731. Thirty-six leaves and fragments of leaves of a manuscript of the Liber novem judicum, formerly pastedowns in books bound by Robert Way [p. xii] c. 1614, have now been assembled as All Souls College MS. 332. The first leaf of the text survives (MS. 332 fo. 1) and ends with the words ‘quandam temporum conuersiuam’. The second leaf, now missing, began therefore ‘mutacioncm ab alia natura ‘ (cf. MS. Digby 149 fo. 205v). The first of these words is the ‘secundo folio’ of a ‘Liber novem judicum’ in the All Souls catalogue (Bulletin John Rylands Library, 16 (1932), 477). The same book is entered also in three lists, c. 1490-1520, in the ‘Vellum Inventory’ of the college. In the earliest of these lists the ‘secundo folio’ is given as ‘mutacione[.] ab al[..]’. In the others it is ‘mutacionem’. The pastedowns were taken from bindings and guard-books at Magdalen College and Queen’s College and were given to All Souls College in 1948.[22]  

               Compared with the total number of fragments used by the Oxford binders, the present list of pastedowns in some 2,200 bindings is no more than an aid to the imagination. We cannot compute the actual number of leaves of manuscript which this figure represents, because the pastedowns in small books are often formed by cutting one leaf in pieces. But whatever the number it is only a tiny fraction of the total number of leaves which the binders used. We can seldom collect together as much as the twentieth part of a complete book; often no more than a hundredth part, or even less. There is no reason to doubt that the binders used the whole of these books and many others now entirely lost. They will have used many thousands of leaves as wrappers of ephemeral notebooks, account-books,[23] and light-weight printed books and many thousands as pastedowns in bindings which no longer exist. I can enumerate only thirty-nine manuscripts of which as many as twenty leaves survive in the form of pastedowns, or wrappers. Twenty-three of them were used as pastedowns in post-1574 Oxford roll-bindings (nos. 874—1246). These bindings have been comparatively little scattered, because the market for them lay principally in the college libraries. The manuscripts are listed here according to the number of leaves which each contains.  

  • No. 932, &c. Hugh of St. Victor, De sacramentis. 109 leaves.
  • No. 939. Johannes glosatus. 108 leaves.
  • No. 1022, &c. Bible. 62 leaves.
  • No. 1296, &c. Augustine, Sermo ad fratres in eremo, 62 leaves.
  • No. 1062, &c. Bernard on the Song of Songs. 57 leaves.
  • No. 936, &c. P. Comestor, Historia Scholastica. 53 leaves.
  • No. 904. Aristotle, Meteora, &c. 48 leaves.
  • No. 1035, &c. Sermons. 47 leaves.
  • WAS6. Clementine Constitutions. 41 leaves.
  • No. 1032, &c. Catholicon. 38 leaves.
  • No. 894, &c. Codex Justiniani. 37 leaves.
  • No. 993, &c. Bartholomæus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum. 37 leaves.
  • No. 254, &c. Burley on Ethics. 36 leaves.
  • No. 1246, &c. Liber novem judicum. 36 leaves.
  • No. 965, &c. Processional. 34 leaves.
  • [p. xiii] No. 933. Thomas Wallensis, Commentary on De civitate Dei. 32 leaves.
  • No. 945, &c. Twelfth-century English chronicle. 32 (or 37) leaves.
  • No. 878, &c. Legenda sanctorum. 30 leaves.
  • No. 1036, &c. Henry of Ghent, Quodlibeta. 30 leaves.
  • No. 1104. Psalter. 30 leaves.
  • No. 486. Aquinas on the 4th book of the Sentences. 28 (or 44) leaves.
  • No. 16. Commentary on Vacarius. 27 leaves.
  • No. 633, &c. Gregory, Moralia. 26 leaves.
  • No. 110, &c. Clementine constitutions, cum doctoribus. 25 leaves.
  • No. 941. Evangelistarium. 25 leaves.
  • No. 225, &c. Bonaventura, Meditationes, &c. 24 leaves.
  • No. 632, &c. Flores Bernardi. 24 leaves.
  • No. 1038, &c. Johannes Canonicus on Physics. 24 leaves.
  • No. 1113. Astrology. 24 leaves.
  • No. 1704, &c. Rogerius, Chirurgia. 24 leaves.
  • No. 324, &c. Gregory, Works. 22 leaves.
  • No. 902, &c. Polychronicon. 22 leaves.
  • No. 1720, &c. Noted breviary. 22 leaves.
  • No. 46. Vacarius. 20 leaves.
  • No. 716, &c. Catholicon. 20 leaves.
  • No. 1041, &c. Commentary on De anima. 20 leaves.
  • No. 874. Sermons. 54 fragments.
  • No. 991. P. Riga, Aurora. Number of leaves uncertain.
  • No. 1350, &c. Breviary. A few complete leaves and numerous fragments.  

               It will be seen that many libraries contain ‘pockets’ of books in bindings with a particular roll or centrepiece. These ‘pockets’ can often be accounted for. The many Oxford bindings of the 1530’s and early 1540’s at Magdalen[24] must be linked with the fact that Magdalen was, it seems, the first Oxford college to spend a large sum of money on the purchase of printed books, a sum amounting to as much as £60 in the years 1536—41.[25] In the next decade or two All Souls, New College, and Merton did likewise. At All Souls the chief traces of this outlay are the books themselves in bindings bearing roll VII and related rolls: the college accounts are silent, but the books, some or all, appear to have been bought in 1544—5, eight pence being paid in that financial year ‘famulis gerbronde bibliopole vt melius expolirent libros emptos ex communi ere collegii hoc anno’.[26] At New College the accounts show that some £25 was spent in 1543—4 on books for the library. They are, no doubt, mainly the collection of law-books printed between 1540 and 1544, the covers of which bear either rolls V and VI or a simple pattern of three-line fillets.[27] At Merton about two hundred printed books are recorded in the catalogue of 1556, and about 110 of them, nearly all printed between 1520 and 1549, are identifiable in the library to-day. Seventeen of the twenty which have escaped rebinding [p. xiv]are in oxford bindings of the forties or early fifties (rolls VII-XI, XX).[28] The college account-rolls seems to have no entries relating to purchases of books at this time, but a separate account signed by Edward Bell shows that in fact some £60 was spent on books on a particular occasion in the middle of the century.[29] At Corpus the books in bindings bearing roll XIII and rolls XV-XVII are mostly the gift of President Greneway. At Wadham College and at York the many books in Oxford bindings of the 1560’s and early 1570’s belonged respectively to Philip Bisse (M.A.1564) and Toby Mathew (M.A. 1566). Many books at Corpus and elsewhere in bindings bearing centrepiece i and other centrepieces[30] belonged to John Reynolds (B.A.1568, d.1607) who bequeathed books not only to his own college but to most other colleges in the University and to many individuals. The books at Queen’s bearing centrepiece ix were mostly Archbishop Grindal’s: it seems probable that they were bound soon after they came to the college in 1584. The long series of books at Merton bearing rolls XII and XVIII are largely purchases of the years 1589-94, many of them during travels abroad by Thomas Savile, the brother of the warden: the names of these books and their prices are set out in the College Register. Other books at Merton with rolls XI and XIX were bought or bequeathed in 1597-8. A collection of books given to the Bodleian, mainly by William Gent in 1601, also bear either rolls XII, XVIII or rolls XI, XIX. They were probably all bound about the year 1600.  

               The repairing of books was not part of a binder’s normal business even a hundred years ago. In the seventeenth, and eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries great numbers of college-library books were rebound in new covers and with new endleaves, and there was not, perhaps, at any time more activity of this sort than in the first half the nineteenth century, when, for example, almost all the older theological books in the Merton library were rebound.[31] Since the middle of the last century there has, however, been a gradual change of feeling about the outsides of old books, a feeling to which W. D. Macray gave expression in an interesting note in his own copy of the Annals of the Bodleian Library.[32] He records that in the Bodleian ‘The destruction of old covers, often fragments of MSS., and fly-leaves with owners’ names, continued unchecked when books were sent to be bound, until I was of sufficient standing in the Library to be able to restrain it, which I vigorously endeavoured to do. Under Dr. Bandinel’s regime, until then, books were sent off to the binder without any directions as to preservation of covers and scraps, and consequently came back as "neat" as the binder could make them’. This refers probably to some date in the 1850’s. At Hereford, about the same time, old covers, but not pastedowns, were preserved, no doubt on the initiative of Canon Havergal, who took pains to record the date and place (Oxford) at which books were rebound. The nineteenth-century bindings of sixteenth-century books in the Magdalen College library are in various styles. The earliest are rebindings pure and simple. Others, not many, have the old covers pasted on top of the new covers and marbled endpapers instead of the old pastedowns and [p. xv] flyleaves.[33] Still others have the old covers pasted outside and have, or had, the old pastedowns inside.[34] These last date mostly from the time when H. A. Wilson was librarian and reflect the policy to which he gave expression in his second annual library report, 29 Nov. 1881.[35] ‘I have found’ he wrote ‘that several of the oldest volumes, especially those with oak boards are infested by worms. Not very many have suffered much except in the bindings — but when the worms are still evidently at work I have taken steps to get rid of them by removing old boards, preserving the old leather when it is worth preserving and keeping also as they were before any portions of manuscripts which the old binders have used to cover the insides of the boards’. Magdalen still possesses no less than eighty-one volumes bearing the Oxford rolls III, IV, V and VI. They are mostly no doubt the books bought with the college money in the 1530’s. Although thirty-six of them have been rebound we have all the essential evidence for their history, thanks to Wilson’s care.[36]  

               As a result of the renewed interest in fragments of medieval manuscript, college librarians began to make collections of them in guard-books. The earliest of such books, Queen’s College MS. 389, existed in time to be described in Coxe’s catalogue of college manuscripts, published in 1852. The largest collection, removed from the covers of books at Corpus, was mainly the work of Robert Proctor and J. G. Milne in their undergraduate days.[37] Other large collections have been formed at New College (MSS. 360, 362—4), Magdalen (MSS. lat. 265—271), and Merton (mainly a referenced series of loose leaves). The Oriel collection in three volumes (MSS. 85—7), put together and annotated with scholarly care by W. A. Pantin, is a model of how such work should be done, if it is done at all. In the Bodleian, guard-books were instituted in the second half of the nineteenth century and have been added to gradually. Other guard-books are to be found at All Souls (MS. 330), Brasenose (MSS. 40, 56, 57) and Christ Church (‘ The book of orts’ — the name is York Powell’s) and outside Oxford, at Eton, Exeter, Gloucester, Lincoln, Lanhydrock, and elsewhere.[38]  

               This collecting into guard-books has its uses, especially if considerable remains of a single volume can be assembled under one cover, but it is, I think, generally the wiser course to leave pastedowns in situ, fulfilling the function that the binder required of them. Oxford bindings are many, but as a result of careless repairs and the removal of manuscript fragments the number of volumes in which we can see exactly what the binder did, how, for example, he arranged his endleaves,[39] is comparatively small and tends to grow less year by year. There is also the danger, not so serious now as it once was, that detached fragments may be placed in guard-books without an accompanying note to show where they came from. Most of the pastedowns of the books listed in the Appendix were no doubt lost when the books were repaired, but some of them certainly still exist, for example in such unannotated [p. xvi] collections of fragments as those at Merton College, Lincoln Cathedral, and Lanhydrock,[40] and some may have been detached deliberately and then mislaid.[41]

               Not all the pastedowns removed from books rebound in Oxford in the first half of the nineteenth century have been destroyed. The Oxford antiquary, Philip Bliss, obtained bundles of them from binders for the price of a pot of beer[42] and so formed a collection which was sold in the Bliss sale, 21 Aug. 1858, lots 100 and 119, and became, partly at least, Phillipps MS. 18137. This latter volume of 327 leaves lot 390 in the Phillipps sale, 24 April, 1911, and was bought by Mr. E. H. Dring, a member of the firm of Quaritch. His son, Mr. E. M. Dring, is the present owner.[43] Old shelfmarks on some of the leaves show that they were pastedowns in books in the libraries of St. John’s, Merton and Queen’s. Many others come, no doubt, from books in Oxford libraries which cannot be identified. Other Bliss-Phillipps fragments, including leaves with All Souls and New College bookplates and a leaf bearing a Magdalen pressmark were purchased by the Bodleian from Messrs. Robinson in 1952.[44]  

               Owing to the orderly methods of medieval writers, the division of their works into books and short chapters, and the custom of writing commentaries, the task of putting a title to a manuscript of which only one or two leaves exist is often not as difficult as one might think it would be. Most of the fragments which I have been able to identify come from the best known books of the Middle Ages: the Bible; the glossed books of the Bible; the Corpus Juris Civilis and Corpus Juris Canonici and the early compilations of decretals; the texts of Aristotle; the biblical commentaries of the Fathers; Gregory’s Pastoral Care and Dialogues; the Sentences of Peter Lombard; the Historia Scholastica of Petrus Comestor; the commentaries of Aquinas on the Sentences and on Aristotle; the Summa theologiæ of Aquinas; the Quodlibets of Henry of Ghent; the postils on the Bible of Nicholas of Lyre; the Summa Raymundi and Summa Confessorum; or they are leaves of service-books which can be labelled more or less correctly without much trouble. Some fragments identify themselves by possessing the first words of a text, or a heading or colophon or running title. Some turned out to be what I had hoped they might be and some were lucky finds. Often I have been content with such titles as ‘Commentary on the Sentences’, ‘Medicine’, or ‘Mathematics’, feeling that the business of making a precise identification is for the expert in any particular class of manuscripts. On the other hand the title ‘ Theology ‘, and other titles nearly as useless, occur far too often and are the more regrettable because, no doubt, they conceal some of the more interesting and valuable of the fragments.[45]

               [p. xvii] The list of pastedowns could not have been compiled without the kindly help of the owners and custodians of all the collections which I have visited. Miss G. Brereton helped me with manuscripts in French and Dr. L. Minio-Paluello with manuscripts of Aristotle. Mr. H. M. Adams, Dr. R. W. Hunt, Mr. L. Hanson, Professor R. A. B. Mynors, Mr. J. B. Oldham and Mr. Ian Philip have read and criticised sections of the work at various stages. To them and to other friends, the officers of the Oxford Bibliographical Society, and the printer my grateful thanks are due.  


[1] For methods of attaching the paper and parchment sheets to the binding see Methods of Securing Endleaves.

[2] The fragments in medieval bindings are often of interest and deserve a special study. In Lowe’s Codices Latini Antiquiores, nos. 129, 130, 147, 151, 153, 154, 158, 160, 164, 178, 184, 189 (?), 190, 216, 217, 244, 259, 261, 262-5 are fragments from English medieval bindings.

[3] I refer here only to London, Oxford and Cambridge, because, according to Oldham, Shrewsbury School Library bindings, p. xxvi, decorated and therefore, localizable binding was almost confined to these three towns in the sixteenth century. I have found very few manuscript pastedowns in undecorated bindings.

[4] See The Appendix of Bindings of the First Period of Oxford Roll-Binding (c. 1515-1574) without Manuscript Pastedowns for the exceptions to the rule that all Oxford bindings dating from c. 1520 to c. 1570 were furnished with parchment pastedowns taken from medieval manuscripts. [Update: the information in Ker's appendix is to be incorporated into the next stage of this digitization project]

[5] They are, in Oldham’s notation, FL.a(9), FL.a(10), FL.d(1), FP.b(2), FP.g(1), HE.g(4), HM.h(28), HM.h.(29), RP.a(2), SW.b(3), SW.b(4).

[6] FP.a(8), Hm.a(17).

[7] AN.g(1).

[8] His rolls are FC.h(6), HE.g(4), HM.g(8), HM.g(10), IN(10), GE(2), GE(3), GE(4), RP.a(2). Most of his bindings are now at Merton College on the books bought from the library of John Betts of Trinity Hall, Cambridge (d. 1599). Two of the rolls are among those listed above, footnote 5.

[9] Strickland Gibson, Early Oxford bindings, 1903. G. J. Gray, The earlier Cambridge stationers and bookbinders, 1904. G. D. Hobson, Bindings in Cambridge libraries, 1929. G. D. Hobson, Blind-stamped panels in the English book-trade, 1944. J. B. Oldham, Shrewsbury School Library bindings, 1941. J. B. Oldham, English blind-stamped bindings, 1952.

[10] Nos. 619, 853 845.

[11] See nos. 42b, xxv (1), xxix, xxxv. No. 42b was procured for Durham cathedral priory the year after publication.

[12] The early-sixteenth-century catalogues of the library of All Souls provide interesting evidence of the conversion of a collection of manuscripts, one particularly rich in law-books, into a collection of printed books. They reveal that the present MSS. 49-52, four handsome volumes of the civil law, were brought together to form a set c. 1520, at a time when most of the other legal manuscripts were discarded in favour of printed editions.

[13] Powicke, Medieval books of Merion College, pp. 249-51. If most of these books and most of the 197 books in the theological ‘ eleccio’ of the same year (Powicke, p. 252) survived until the middle of the century, they would easily amount to the ‘ cartload ‘ which, so Anthony Wood heard, had been abstracted from Merton in the time of Edward VI (Wood, History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford (ed. Gutch, 1796), ii. 107).

[14] Merton College MS. 271 is the sole survivor, apart from the fragments described under no. 1081, of 58 texts of Aristotle distributed among the fellows of Merton in 1372 (Powicke, Medieval books of Merton College, pp. 60-3). It is a beautiful copy of the De animalibus which was transferred from the circulating collection to the chained library in the fifteenth century, as the chainmark shows.

[15] These are, for service books, nos. 24, 302, 400, 440, 447, 508, 608, 610, 612, 711, 835, 863a, 911, 1492, 1515, 1559, 1821, WN1, WN12, WN24, and for other text, nos. 66, 282, 312, 347, 354, 385, 402, 439, 454, 467, 470, 494, 495, 518, 543b, 577, 627, 737, 748, 766a, 770, 825, 932, 934, 945, 953, 1002, 1011, 1057, 1062, 1125, 1126, 1159, 1176, 1195, 1254, 1256, 1257, 1280, 1317, 1329, 1334, 1337, 1344, 1369, 1375, 1402a, 1409, 1414, 1428, 1437, 1453, 1468, 1477, 1482, 1483, 1510, 1511, 1518, 1541, 1559, 1574, 1583, 1585, 1592, 1597, 1602, 1622, 1693, 1701, 1724, 1755, 1756, 1769, 1800, 1837a, 1842a, 1864, 1866, 1940, 1953, 1986, WAS3, WAS7, WCx3, WMe4, WMe15, WMe28, WN34, Add.2, Add.4. Only twelve of these, nos. 24, 66, 282, 302, 312, 354, 447, 454, 467, 494, 543b, 577, were used in pre-1550 bindings. It would be interesting to discover whether twelfth-century manuscripts were used as sparingly by Spierinck and Godfrey, the popular Cambridge binders of the early sixteenth century.

[16] I count a set as one volume for this purpose.

[17] The volumes are all folios or large quartos, and the binder who possessed these rolls — and Roll VII-VIII and HM.a(5) — either was employed by the Oxford bookseller Garbrand, or was Garbrand himself.

[18] A Cambridge bookbinder, John Pocher, paid to Eton college in 1550-1 ‘for certenne bokes in the librarye’ and a Mr. Seeres, whose trade and place of work are not specified, paid 24/- in 1564-5 for old Parchment bookes weying cc pounde’. It is tempting to equate Seeres with the Oxford binder, Sheres, who worked for Thomas Greneway (d. 1571) in London and then in Oxford, when Greneway was President of Corpus Christi College (1562-68).

[19] The bosses, five on each cover, and the clasps are now missing. The ‘Royall paper’ forms the flyleaves, normally two leaves at the beginning and two leaves at the end of each volume.

[20] Powicke, Medieval books of Merton College, no. 96.

[21] MS. Corpus 150 fo. 1v, line 5: ‘et non fuerint ille sculpture diuersorum colorum a colore corporis. set fuerint ex colore illius corporis. et fuerit aspiciens in loco …’. Ed. p. 2, lines 13, 14: et non fuerint illae sculpturæ diversorum colorum a colore corporis: et fuerit aspiciens in loco…

[22] For other pastedowns which suggest that the manuscripts from which they have been taken belonged to or may have belonged to Oxford college libraries see nos. 933, 1026, 1312, 1454.

[23] A cache of account-books bound in manuscript wrappers was discovered at Merton College in 1920; see P. S. Allen, ‘Early documents connected with the library of Merton college’, The Library, 4th series, vi (1924), 252.

[24] Nos. 104-115, 154-168, 214-245, 279, 293a, xlvii-xlix, lxiii-lxiv, lxxxiii-lxxxv.

[25] W. D. Macray, Register of Magdalen College, New Series, ii. 16-21. Most of the books were bought either in London or from the Oxford bookseller Evans.

[26] The date fits exactly with the dates of printing of the books in bindings bearing roll VII, which run from 1520 to 1544 (see nos. 301-331). No. 332 appears to have been bought (by the college?) in 1548.

[27] Nos. 252-6, 238-64, 266.

[28] Nos. 387, 387a, 388—90, 393-4, 396, 398, 571, 714, cxvi—cxviii, ccxxvi, ccxxvii. For evidence that other Merton books were in bindings with roll XX see the footnotes to nos. 692, 712, 713.

[29] No. 2798 among the college muniments. Bell was elected fellow in 1539. The books were bought from the Oxford booksellers Evans, Gore, and Garbrand.

[30] Centrepieces iii, vii (found frequently on books belonging to Reynolds printed before 1592) and xiv (on the larger books belonging to him, printed in the 1590’s and 1600’s).

[31] See below for leaves from Merton, Queen’s and St. John’s books which were rebound or repaired at this time.

[32] I am grateful to Sir Edmund Craster for telling me of this note. The copy of the Annals (2nd edition) in which it occurs, interleaved opposite p. 212, is kept among Library records.

[33] Four volumes of an incomplete set of Erasmus are bound thus. Two other volumes of the same set were sold or given to President Routh and are now in the Durham University Library. One of these two has not been rebound and still has its pastedowns in situ (nos. 279, 280).

[34] Most of the pastedowns were removed to guard-books, about thirty years ago.

[35] I am grateful to the President and Fellows of Magdalen College for permission to publish this extract.

[36] The binder employed by the college was Hughes of 27 Castle Street, Oxford. His bills survive up to 1887 and allow us to identify many of the books.

[37] Corpus Christi College MSS. 449-52, 457—60, 464—5, 473, 475, 485—97.

[38] There are ones relevant to this catalogue in Cambridge at Pembroke and Trinity, Exeter Cathedral, Guildford Grammar School, Lambeth Palace and the Royal College of Physicians, at the Plume Library in Maldon, and at Wells and Worcester Cathedrals.

[39] See the Methods of Securing Endleaves.

[40] Lord Clifden’s library at Lanhydrock is rich in Oxford bindings of the later sixteenth century and the early seventeenth century, the collection having been formed, no doubt at Oxford, by Hannibal Gammon who came up to Broadgates Hall in 1599, took his M.A. degree in 1606, and left Oxford in or before 1619, when he became rector of Mawgan-in-Pydet, Cornwall (see D.N.B.). Probably thirty or more of these bindings had pastedowns, but all except nos. 1509b and 1835a were put into a guard-book under the direction of W. H. Allnutt, an assistant in the Bodleian, in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Allnutt made a note of the provenance of nos. 130a, b, but he did not annotate any of the other pastedowns [Update: The guardbook is now Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Lat. misc. b. 17].

[41] At Jesus college and at York Minster all the books in the main body of the library have lost their pastedowns, but the books in the gallery have theirs still mostly in situ. It seems possible that the lost pastedowns were removed deliberately with a view to their preservation as a collection. For Jesus compare C. J. Fordyce and T. M. Knox, ‘The library of Jesus college’, Oxford Bibliographical Soc., v (1937), 70.

[42] As we know from an entry in the diary of Sir Frederic Madden, 15 May 1825 (Oxford Bibliographical Soc. Proc., iii (1933), 188).

[43] [Update: It is now Oxford: Bodleian, MS. Lat. misc. b. 18]

[44] Now MS. Lat. misc, a.3. The four leaves bearing All Souls bookplates and shelf-marks were restored to All souls College, and have been replaced in the books from which they came.

[45] Some books appear seldom in the list because they were commonly written on paper, a material which the binders did not use their Pastedowns until the end of the sixteenth century and then not often in manuscript form. As a result of their preference for parchment, the stores of paper law-books which presumably existed at the close of the Middle Ages were destroyed by others than binders in the sixteenth century. Specimens of these massive books survive at New College and All Souls. The paper pastedowns in my list are: 258, 897, 899, 949, 1242, 1250, 1270, 1288, 1340, 1365, 1366, 1373, 1381a, 1423, 1431, 1433, 1434a, 1442, 1457, 1462, 1467, 1469, 1484—5, 1489a, 1489b, 1491, 1493, 1496, 1509b, 152la, 1529, 1567, 1727, 1744, 1805a, 1822, 1823, 1826, 1856, 1860, 1870, 1928, 1938, 1977, 1978, Add. 1.