NARRATED GLOSSARY

Stages of book production and decoration

fascicolazione
progettazione della pagina
scrittura
decorazione
legatura
Fascicolo
Composition of the quire

The quire constituted the basic unit of the structure of the codex and consisted of a series of folios - typically 4 - folded and inserted one inside the other. The parchment quires were arranged so that when the book opened they would face the same sides: the flesh side (smoother and whiter) with flesh; the hair side (more yellowish, with hair follicles) with hair (“Gregory’s law”).

Organizzazione fascicolo
The quire as the architecture of the codex

Examining the constitution and integrity of the quires allows textual gaps to be pointed out, but also, possibly, it can clarify the organisation of the work at the scriptorium or the atelier: Do the ends of the texts always coincide with the ends of the quires? Has the scribe or illuminator changed when the quire was changed? Responding in the affirmative means, for example, that one could assume that the distribution of the work of preparation, copying and decoration was parcelled out.

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Foratura
Perforation

Preliminary to ruling (see), perforation comprised making a series of holes in the margins necessary to draw the horizontal lines (rectrici) and the vertical lines (justification) using different tools (penknife, awl, or compass). The most common system was to perforate the folios in one go on a quire that had already been folded and composed, although alternative systems existed for single or double folios.

Rigatura
Ruling

Ruling would draw a grid of horizontal and vertical lines on the page that determined the presentation of the text. This design generally comprised a text layout that was in a full-page or two-column format. The choice was functional to the type of text (poetry, epic, with commentary) and the dimensions: the larger it was, the easier it would be to read in columns.

Rigatura a secco
“Dry ruling”

A pointed instrument, which would leave an engraved mark and a relief on both sides of the folio simultaneously, would be used for dry ruling. The entire quire open and composed could be ruled (old style), but when the book was opened, the groove and relief would be facing, or each folio on the same side could be ruled (new style), which was a more refined system that generated a uniform groove and relief facing.

Rigatura a colore
“Coloured ruling”

From circa the 12th century onwards, a new “coloured” technique became used widely, employing an instrument that would leave a coloured mark (ink or lead). In this case the system would be that each side of the folio was ruled. This system provided that complex texts could be paginated in a more flexible manner.

Margini
Margins

the margins were white space that surrounded and highlighted the black text. Theoretically these should be inviolable, yet they often accommodated notes of attention, drawings or reader comments, which were stratified over time, frequently giving them great cultural relevance. As a part of the codex destined to remain unused, especially in the case of expensive parchment, the margins also represented one of the visible elements of the codex’s value.

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Tecnica
Writing as a technique

Since writing is not a natural skill, but an art to be learned, this skill determined, a general division among the literate and the illiterate on political, cultural, and social grounds. In the early Middle Ages, writing technique was almost exclusively confined to the ecclesiastical (religion of the word) and legal (Roman law) realms. In the late Middle Ages, writing spread to the courts, universities, merchants, craftsmen, and artists: the new secular classes and circles.

Scriba e scrittoio
The scribe and the writing desk

A broad and traditional iconography showed a scribe intent at his work of copying, an apostle or a saint writing under divine dictation, a monk performing a task for the community, or a layman transcribing in order to read or study. The writer was always surrounded by his tools: folios, a pen and inkwell, a penknife, compass, ruler, awl, books, and a candle or lantern.

Scrivere nei margini
Writing in the margins

The margins were an invitation to write, either extemporaneously when there was a scarcity of media, or comments linked to the text. Thus, in the margins of these texts, there can be found signs of attention: brackets, dots, small circles; and then manicules, or small hands with the index finger indicating a passage of interest, real comments, or citations from the author. These are small graphic signs that can open our eyes to how people read, studied and wrote.

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Finalità e significato
Purpose and meaning

Decoration of the book had a primarily aesthetic and narrative intent. Initials and illustrations, made using more or less precious materials, up to and including gold, affected the cost of making the book/merchandise and then the market cost of the book/commodity, as well as, with its preciousness, and especially policies concerning its preservation over time.

Iniziali
Initials

The specific decorative element of the manuscript consisted of initials, i.e. enlarged initial letters of words that opened textual partitions. They may be simple or filigree (pen), ornate or historiated (brush). Though the number of initials in each manuscript was in inverse proportion to its antiquity, it was instead directly proportional to the patron’s budget.

Illustrazioni
Illustrations

These were figurative representations, in an open field or enclosed in frames (tabular), that summarised the subject of the text, by explaining individual episodes and describing places or characters. Illustrations my take up entire pages or larger or smaller parts, and they sometimes encroached on the margins. They could be economically taxing.

Miniatore
Illuminator

The illuminator or miniaturist would only rarely coincide with the copyist. This was so when the decoration was limited to simple initials or, conversely, if the scribe, for example Bartolomeo Sanvito (1433-1518), was able to perform both functions masterfully. In an early medieval scriptorium, the illuminator would be a gifted monk trained in that art. In an early medieval workshop, the miniaturist would be a specific craftsman or even a painter.

Decorazione nel testo
Decoration in the text

Illumination, in addition to ornamentation, also performed a textual function in support of reading. Indeed, by adapting the size and richness of the initials, different textual partitions, such as the beginning of a text, a chapter, strophe, or a paragraph, could be emphasised. In the Gothic period, this function was emphasised through the hierarchical distribution of decorative elements throughout the text (initials, paragraph marks, or traces of colour).

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A cosa serve
What was it for?

Binding constituted the external covering of the codex. Its task was to contain the quires and protect its structure from the mechanical stresses of use and when the book was stored on a shelf. Also, the first visible part often fulfilled an aesthetic purpose linked to the selection of materials and their decoration, which were factors that naturally influenced the preciousness and value of the artefact.

Struttura e parti
Structure and parts

The set of quires was held together by stitching that was wrapped around strips of leather or plant based battens (nervi). The cover, which was anchored through these battens, was essentially made up of three parts: two rectangular boards that covered the block of folios at the front and back (plates) and a connecting part between the two that covered the thickness (spine).

Materiali
Materials

The materials involved in binding could be the most varied, depending on the era and intended use of the book: wooden or cardboard boards; hide, leather, parchment, cloth, metal, ivory, gems, cameos, and metal for studs and clasps. In addition, special metal tools could be used for the decoration of the plates, incised dry in the 15th century, and gilded later.

Ri-legature
Re-binding

The binding, intended to protect the book, is the part that would be most subject to wear and, as a complementary element. However, the binding, which was independent from the book’s structure, could easily be replaced if it was faulty or if it did not please a new owner. Actually, very few manuscripts still have their original bindings, rather most have been re-bound at times that were even far removed from the book that they covered.

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collation
folio design
writing
decoration
binding
Fascicolo

Quires from the De Balneis Puteonalis. Rome, Angelica Library, MS 1474, De Balneis Puteonalis.

Facing diagram, folio without backing and heal, Maniaci Glossary, Editrice Bibliografica

Diagram of Gregory’s law

Organizzazione fascicolo

Richiamo di fine fascicolo e apertura del successivo. Salerno, Museo Diocesano, ms.s.s., Pontificale, c.103v

Brachetta. Roma, Biblioteca Angelica, Ms.1474, De Balneis Puteolanis

Passaggio di fascicolo con cambio di mano del copista. Roma, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Ms. S. Pant. 8, cc.59v- 60v.

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Foratura

Example of perforation. London, British Library, Egerton 2976, ff. 20v-21r

Rigatura

Miniature with St. Matthew tracing the lines. Manchester, John Rylands University Library, MS 11, f. 15v.

Folio with margins, ruling and preparatory drawing. Oxford, Bodleian library, MS Douce, 180, The Douce Apocalypse, f. 48v

Ruling Rome, Angelica Library, MS 459, Book of Hours

Rigatura a secco

Example of dry ruling Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS. s.s.,
Enarrationes in psalmos, f. 2r.

Example of dry ruling Salerno, Diocesan Museum, Ms,s.s. Enarrationes in psalmos, f. 125r.

Example of dry ruling Salerno, Diocesan Museum, Ms,s.s. Enarrationes in psalmos

Rigatura a colore

Example of colour ruling Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS s.s, Ordinario, f. 76v.

Example of colour ruling Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS. s.s., Pontificale, f. 167v.

Example of colour ruling Rome, Angelica Library, MS 459, Book of Hours, f. 29r.

Margini

Margins visible in an unfinished miniature. Oxford, Bodleian Library,
MS Douce, 180, The Douce Apocalypse, f. 58v.

Margins Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Latin 8851, Évangéliaire de la Sainte Chapelle, f. 117r.

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Finalità e significato

Uta Codex. Monaco, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS. BSB Clm 13601, Evangelistario, f. 1v.

Sumptuous Carolingian manuscript, Utrecht, Universiteitsbibliotheek, ms. Hs. 32 (Eccl. 484), Salterio of Utrecht.

Masterpiece of the Ottonian miniature, Cividale del Friuli, Archaeological Museum, MS. 136, Salterio di Egberto, f.34v-35v

Iniziali

Historiated initial Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS., Pontificale, f. 39r.

Figurative initial. Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS., s.s., Omiliario, f. 69r.

Watermarked initial Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS., Pontificale, f. 19v.

Illustrazioni

Caesar’s Army Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS fr. 295, f. 50v

Liturgical scene Naples, National Library, MS I B 22, f. 126v

Christological episodes. Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS., Pontificale, f.21r.

Miniatore

Miniaturist self-portrait. Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 127, Passionario di Weissenau, f. 244r.

Claricia the Miniaturist. Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS. W.26.64R, Salterio, f.64r.

Miniaturist self-portrait. Oxford, Bodleian library, MS Bodl. 717, f. 287v.

Decorazione nel testo

Decorated initial capitals and line-endings. Rome, Angelica Library, MS 459, Book of Hours, ff. 28r-29v

Use of colour to highlight text. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Latin 8851, Évangéliaire de la Sainte Chapelle, ff. 49v-50r

Cannon Tables Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Latin 8851, Évangéliaire de la Sainte Chapelle, ff.13v-14r

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Tecnica

Example of Carolingian script. Cividale del Friuli, National Archaeological Museum, MS. 136, Salterio di Egberto, ff. 56v-57r.

Example of Beneventan script. Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS. s.s., Omiliario, f. 8r.

Example of Gothic script. Salerno, Diocesan Museum, MS. s.s., Pontificale, f. 208v.

Scriba e scrittoio

The Evangelist Matthew intent on writing, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Latin 8851, L’évangéliaire de la Sainte-Chapelle, f. 15v

The Four Evangelists intent on writing, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Latin 8851, L’évangéliaire de la Sainte-Chapelle.

Scribe. London, British Library, MS Sloane 2435, Le Régime du corps, f.1r

Scrivere nei margini

Inscriptions in the margins. Rome, Angelica Library, MS 369, f. 99v.

Margin note by F. Petrarch’s hand, Naples, Pontificia Facoltà teologica MS., Biblioteca s. Luigi, Ar. I.50 (già XXII.B.11), c. 144r.

Margin notes in Carmina di Orazio, Rome, Biblioteca dei Lincei e Corsiniana, MS Cors. 43 E 10, f. 3r.

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A cosa serve

Examples of bindings made in a workshop. University of Rome Tor Vergata CoRLib Restoration Laboratory

Cover. Rome, Angelica Library, MS 459, Book of Hours.

Cover with gems and ivory. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, MS Latin 9388, Cover.

Struttura e parti

Tool for working the spine. University of Rome Tor Vergata CoRLib Restoration Laboratory

Explanatory drawing of the parts of the binding

Explanatory drawing of the parts of the binding

Materiali

Detail of cover with gems, called Pace di Chiavenna. Chiavenna, Museum of the Treasure.

Hide for covers. Rome, University of Rome Tor Vergata CoRLib Restoration Laboratory.

Cover in Ivory. Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 23630, Evangelistarium.

Ri-legature

Example of a Waste sheet. Rome, Angelica Library, MS 1474, De Balneis Puteolanis, f. 7r.

Example of a manuscript with new binding but original plates. London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, Lindisfarne Gospels.

Example of a non-original binding. Rome, Angelica Library, MS 1474, De Balneis Puteolanis.

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