Buried Treasure II: Early Fragments in Later Books

Continuing the theme from last week, we here showcase some more exciting fragments found in the bindings of Worcester books:

  1. Flyleaf formed from a page printed in Middle English by Wynkyn de Worde. De Worde, a Dutch printer, took over William Caxton’s press after the latter died in 1492, and continued running its operation until his own death in 1534. This work appears to be a chronicle of late Roman / early medieval British History, but we have yet to identify which one exactly. This fragment is fronting a 1538 edition of theological commentary by Johann Eck (WCL CD9).
Wynkyn de Worde

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

  1. Flyleaf formed from a page of medieval printed text (incunabula). The red and blue coloured initials are a continuation of the manuscript tradition into the printing age. The text appears to be a commentary on Roman legal history, and fronts a volume of Ecclesiastical History by Caesar Baronius from the early 17th Century (WCL EA13).
Worcester Cathedral Library

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

  1. Fragments of 15th century hagiography manuscript, in front of an 18th century hand-written replacement title page to a 1541 printed Latin and Hebrew edition of Josephus (WCL WD13). The section of manuscript towards the rear of the book (or the front, from the Hebrew perspective!) corresponds exactly to a hagiographic work first appearing in print in 1480 by the Italian scholar Bonino Mombrizio (Mombritius). If it is a version of Mombritius’ work, then this must have been amongst the last hand-written copies to have been made of a book, before the further development of printing made this an economically unviable method for disseminating texts! Another possibility is that our fragments pre-date 1480, and represent an earlier tradition that Mombritius later plagiarised. The front fragments below:
Worcester Cathedral Library

Front. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

The below (rear) Latin fragment reads: “…ens fuerit Symon et apls [apostolus] Petrus sine causa execratus sit eum. Cumque diceremus omnibus ut nemo eis crederet asservimus idone[a]m et illustrem fidei tue personam” which directly corresponds with a sentence in Mombritius.

Worcester Cathedral Library

Back. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK).

  1. A substantial fragment of a manuscript on canon law from c.1300, in front of an unidentified page of incunabula, here forms the flyleaf to a 1509 edition of the Aurea Legenda (WCL Sel.B.50.4). Note how the inks and pigments have transferred onto the back of the front board.
Worcester Cathedral Library

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

There will be one more instalment of Worcester fragments coming to this blog soon!

Tom Hopkins

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