Patching Medieval Books in Medieval Times


 

There is so much care taken today to restore medieval books as safely and invisibly as possible. But the original owners of the books took quite a different philosophy, using each hole as an extra means of decoration for their cherished manuscripts. Instead of covering the hole up, many medieval owners would bind and strengthen the holes with pieces of crocheted colorful string. And in some cases, the holes were deliberate, as seen above.

 

 

Holes in the pages of medieval books are common. They were easily made (by the parchment maker’s knife), as in this wonderful case. Fixing it by stitching the hole together with strings of parchment is also common: parchment makers did it all the time, leaving behind “scars” on the page. What is totally unusual, however, is the repairs seen in this 14th-century book in Uppsala, Sweden. The damage is repaired, or at least masked, by good old broidery. It was done by the nuns who purchased the book in 1417. It is delightful to think that they took the effort to make a medieval hole disappear by replacing it with patterns like this, made up from pieces of silk in the most vivid of colors.

 

 

(via Eric Kwakkel)

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4 thoughts on “Patching Medieval Books in Medieval Times

  1. Holes like these are frequently encountered in medieval books. They are made by hungry worms that ate through the page. Yes, bookworms really exist – and judging from the size of the hole, this must have been a killer worm. They hatched in the wooden boards that made up the binding, then started to travel through the parchment or paper pages. The most peculiar thing about the holes they left behind is that they usually stop halfway the book. It is as if the worm, finished with his meal, turned around and traced his steps back to the restaurant’s exit. Like a satisfied customer.

  2. Holes in the pages of medieval books are common. They were easily made (by the parchment maker’s knife), as in this wonderful case. Fixing it by stitching the hole together with strings of parchment is also common: parchment makers did it all the time, leaving behind “scars” on the page. What is totally unusual, however, is the repairs seen in this 14th-century book in Uppsala, Sweden. The damage is repaired, or at least masked, by good old broidery. It was done by the nuns who purchased the book in 1417. It is delightful to think that they took the effort to make a medieval hole disappear by replacing it with patterns like this, made up from pieces of silk in the most vivid of colors.

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