In situ Manuscript Fragments in the Incunables

of the Bodleian Library, Oxford

A Fragmentarium Case Study

Ruth Mullett,* Université de Genève

Fragmentology I (2018), 111–120, DOI: 10.24446/6q36

Abstract: This paper discusses the objectives, methodology, and outcomes of the Fragmentarium case study to catalogue in situ manuscript fragments in the incunables of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Drawing on summary information provided within the 2005 incunable catalogue, A Catalogue of Books Printed in the Fifteenth Century now in the Bodleian Library, the descriptions produced consider these fragments within their functional contexts. Here, the author argues that considering in situ fragments as constituent parts of their host vol-umes offers meaningful contribution to the material study of the book.

Keywords: in situ fragments, incunables, early printed books, book history, materiality, cataloguing, Bodleian Library, bookbinding

This paper is concerned with in situ fragments, those pieces of broken up manuscripts that find new purpose in the binding material of other books. It is born out of a project to describe in situ fragments in the Bodleian Library’s collection of incunables (books printed in the fifteenth century) for online pre-sentation on both the Fragmentarium platform, and in the Bodleian Library’s online catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries.1 At present, the project team includes Nigel F. Palmer as supervisor, Franziska Schnoor working

* Many people have kindly given their time and expertise to this project. From Fragmentarium, Christoph Flüeler, Veronika Drescher, and William O. Duba provided unparalleled support and guidance in this project. Rafael Schwemmer of text & bytes worked hard to implement the ever-growing demands of the Fragmentarium Fellows. In turn, the Fellows provided collegial and productive conversation at two Fragmentarium meetings. At the Bodleian, Martin Kaufmann and Alan Coates supported this research from the beginning; Matthew Holford prepared the Bodleian’s online catalogue for receiving our fragment descriptions; Andrew Honey willingly lent his expert advice on issues of conservation, bindings, and digi-tisation; and David Howell helped us to produce hyperspectral data for several fragments in the collection. As well as his exemplary supervision, Nigel F. Palmer generously read and commented on several versions of this paper. Amy Brown, Lily Dessau, and Kaylin O’Dell also offered comments and corrections. I alone remain responsible for any errors. Finally, this Fragmentarium case study would not have been possible without the generous support of the Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation.