11/5/08

Jewish Book Materials at Modena

Something similar to the project at Perugia I recently blogged about is occurring at the Hebrew Manuscript Institute with volumes from the Biblioteca Estense Universitaria in Modena. There are some extensive notes at the above link on the contents of these reclaimed folios, as well as a few descriptions of the actual bindings. I emailed Dr. Chwat for links to or attachments of some more helpful images, as it is still tough from the descriptions alone to determine how these folios were used in the rebinding of 16th century volumes. He responded with the link to the photo at the top of the IMHM.



Though I would love a few dozen more, including shots of some heads and tails, corner folds, pastedowns, etc... this shot is actually pretty helpful. In Dr. Chwat's original blog post, he notes a few somewhat difficult to decipher things. If by "plates" he means "boards," the bindings are fairly regular in that they consist of three bifolia - two for each board (interior?), and one used as a cover material. In the photo you can see that at some point labels in Italian were pasted on each spine. The organic pastes undoubtedly used on these labels are easy to remove. Seeing this photos, I can understand the impulse some bookbinder had - that stack of fine Jewish vellum in the corner of the shop would make excellent cover material. He also notes that there has been some text transfer and imprinting due to the proximity of each folio to another. And then:

"All but two (or possibly three) of the original Hebrew manuscripts are unique (that is- the sole remnant of this particular copy). This is highly unusual, as we are used to finding circulation of folios from particular manuscripts among many locations in Northern Italy and beyond."

Which is pretty nifty for Hebrew scholars. Without more images, I can't think of much else to say about this fascinating collection from a binding standpoint.

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