Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim, Sermones

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, on deposit in Otago University Library (Margaret M. Manion, Vera F. Vines, and Christopher de Hamel, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1989), no. 130), Conrad of Brundelsheim, Sermones, Germany, fourteenth/fifteenth centuries.

This is the only medieval binding in New Zealand with a cover made of tawed pigskin rather than calf or sheep (pigskin has a particularly distinctive pattern of hair follicles, larger follicles in groups of three amid a dispersion of very small follicles—see Szirmai, Fig. 9.34 [b]).[1] Pigskin first becomes a common binding material on German books of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and is more common there than on books from other regions.[2]

In this case, the cover is on two flat wooden boards, with slightly beveled edges: the boards are attached to the textblock by three double, tawed supports, which pass over the outer edge of the boards in the typical late medieval style. The cover has a decorative pattern of intersecting triple-blind rules. This book no longer has a chain, or remains of a chain, attached; but there are “marks from a chain hasp at top centre” of the lower board.[3] The manuscript is also interesting because it recycles early manuscript material in the form of binder’s waste, containing in the front a strip of vellum (bound upside-down). Our description here follows that of Manion, Vines, and De Hamel closely, but we can add that we were able to identify the leaves as from a Psalter, with the remains of Psalms 65:9-67:5.

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim - binder's waste

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim – binder’s waste

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim - double tawed support

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim – double tawed support

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim - general view of boards

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim – general view of boards

 Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim - pigskin follicles

Dunedin, Selwyn College, Shoults Collection, Conrad of Brundelsheim – pigskin follicles

Thanks to Otago University and Selwyn College for permission to reproduce the photographs, and to Donald Kerr, Special Collections.

 


[1] J. A. Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Farnham: Ashgate, 1999), 227.

[2] See R. Reed, Ancient Skins, Parchments and Leathers (London and New York: Seminar Press, 1972), figure 17.

[3] Manion, Vines, and de Hamel, 115.

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