Ker Pastedowns Title Page

Overview and Structure of Ker's Pastedowns

To understand what can be found in the POxBo database, it is essential to appreciate what Ker did -- and did not -- include in his 1954 volume.

Neil Ker was explicit about his remit: it was to include solely medieval manuscript fragments used pastedowns found in Oxford blind-stamped bindings from the end of the fifteenth century to c. 1620. By 'medieval', he took as his cut-off point 1500. Pearson, in his supplement, shifted this slightly by including post-1500 material when it provide evidence of the book trade. Other sixteenth-century fragments, however, remained excluded. Ker was also focussed solely on pastedowns and not the other uses of manuscript fragments which he mentioned in his introduction, presumably on the basis that a binding strip, for instance, provides more exiguous evidence.

In one element, Ker's title understated his content. As he was interested in the re-use of manuscripts in early modern Oxford, it was to his purpose to study those fragments employed as wrappers by Oxford colleges. These lack, of course, the diagnostic information of binding stamps which Ker used elsewhere but, as they were localisable to Oxford and datable because their volumes' contents cover a defined set of years, they were a very helpful inclusion to have. Pearson supplemented this listing as he did the main catalogue.

Ker's work was presented in several sections. An outline of the content is:


Scope and Arrangement of the list of pastedowns

List of pastedowns — arranged into four sections reflecting the developments of binding practice in Oxford: stamped bindings, c. 1480-1516; roll or panel bindings, c. 1515-1574; roll bindings, 1574-1620, and centrepiece bindings, c. 1565-1620. These sections are ordered in one numerical order, which is retained in POxBo. For a more detailed explanation, see the explanation of the numbering system.

Wrappers — in addition to pastedowns within bindings, Ker provides a listing of parchment leaves used as wrappers to volumes of college business (e.g. account books) by Oxford colleges. These are included in POxBo with the prefix 'W'.

Appendix of bindings from c. 1515-1574 without manuscript pastedowns — not included in POxBo but see Next Steps.

A survey of Oxford binding, c. 1515-1620 — for the most part, this has been superseded by David Pearson’s Oxford Book-binding (Oxford, 2000) but it does include two appendices which remain relevant: a listing of pastedowns from a single manuscript found in more than one binding-group, and a discussion of methods of securing the endleaves in Oxford bindings.

Indices — the search facilities of the database supersede Ker's multiple indices. However, he does include extra material on early owners in this section. That has been inputted into the database but is not yet visible. See Next Steps.