Manuscript Waste

Manuscript waste before relaxing

In the late 15th century lots of manuscripts in monastic libraries were replaced with printed copies, creating a large amount of “waste”. This led to binders economizing by using this waste to line spines, make endpaper guards, or board linings. Today manuscript waste is considered valuable and can give a lot of historical information about a book. Many of the Derry & Raphoe books have manuscript waste, including a book I recently completed working on.

Manuscript waste after relaxing

This particular book had a piece of manuscript waste folded around the front and back endpapers for added strength. As the original front endpaper was missing I toned a new piece of paper to replace it.  After humidifying and photographing the waste I was able to return it to the binding wrapped around the new endpaper. Should anyone want to see the piece of manuscript in the future hopefully the photo will provide the information needed.

This particular piece of waste does not seem to be too interesting or valuable, however from time to time more exciting pieces are discovered. The other day Tony brought in a small article about a piece of Da Vinci manuscript that was found in a public library in western France after being in storage for almost 140 years. According to the BBC ‘the document was found after a journalist cam across a reference to it in a Leonardo biography.’ So if you ever come across a piece of manuscript waste written from ‘right to left in Leonardo’s trademark mirror-writing’ hold on to it tight…well not too tight.

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