Sometimes when catalogers examine a book, we find that parts of its structure use recycled materials from other books. These materials are often invisible, hidden away under outer coverings of paper or leather, and revealed only when an item is damaged or taken apart for conservation. But sometimes, the entire outer cover itself is made from a recycled piece of parchment. In the late 15th century, many liturgical manuscripts were replaced with printed copies, and bookbinders likely found the discarded sheets of parchment economical to use. That is the case with our copy of Johann Heinrich Seyfried’s Poliologia, das ist: Accurate Beschreibung aller vornehmsten Städte . . . (Nürnberg [Nuremberg] : Verlegts Johann Leonhard Buggel, 1709), where a discarded sheet has been cut down and used to make a binding for this printed book from 18th-century Germany.
The fragment itself is part of a leaf from a Missal, produced in a Germanic country in the late 14th or 15th century. The red ruling on the leaf isn’t generally seen until the end of the 14th century, which allows us to date the manuscript to no earlier than the late 14th century. The text itself is part of the liturgy for Masses for the third and fourth Sundays in Advent.
Transcription, verso (back cover, left half of the image below):
[From the liturgy for the third Sunday in Advent]
quem uos nescitis. Ipse est qui post me uenturus est. qui ante me factus est: cuius non sum dignus ut soluam eius corrigiam calceamenti
Haec in Bethania facta sunt trans Iordanem: ubi erat Ioannes. baptizans Offertorium
Benedixisti domine terram tuam auertisti captiuitatem iacob remisisti iniquitatem plebis tue Secreta Deuotionis nostrae quaesumus domine tibi hostia iugiter immoletur quae [here the page is cut off]
Transcription, recto (front cover, right half of the image above):
[From the liturgy for the Fourth Sunday in Advent]
Rorate celi de super et nubes pluant iustum. aperiatur terra et germinet Saluatorem. Psalmus Et iustitia oriatur simul ego dominus creaui eum Oratio
Excita domine potentiam tuam et ueni. et magna nobis uirtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratie tue quod nostra peccata praepediunt: indulgentie tue propitiationis acceleret qui ui. Ad Corinthios Pauli Cap. iv FRatres. Sic nos ex [here the page is cut off].
For another example of recycled parchment, see this post.
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This post is by rare book cataloger Lucretia Baskin, who thanks Brandon Hawk (@b_hawk), Lisa Fagin Davis (@lisafdavis), and Erik Kwakkel (@erik_kwakkel) for their assistance in identifying, dating, and transcribing the leaf.
Cataloging of the Rare Book Collection is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.