Glasgow Incunabula Project update (23/5/11)

Another ten incunables have now been described and indexed on the project website:

Page with wormholes

Wormholes on leaf A2r of Mu48-b.1 (Problemata)

The smallest pieces of evidence can be important in tracing the past histories of early printed books. Included in this batch are two books from the Murray collection – a philosophical work attributed erroneously to Aristotle (Mu48-b.1) and a commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima by Johannes Versoris (Mu48-b.3.).  They have both been rebound in similar vellum bindings at some point in the 20th century. Alas, the binder did not document the work undertaken, or note how the books were previously bound, as would be standard practice today. However, in examining both books, eagle eyed Jack Baldwin noticed that in the first gathering of Mu48-b.1 there was a pattern of wormholes identical to those found in the final gathering of Mu48-b.3 – evidence that the books were once bound together.

To quote from John Carter’s ABC for book collectors, wormholes are the “holes made in paper, and sometimes also in the boards and leather of bindings, by bookworms – maggots of various species but uniformly predatory habits, particularly addicted to incunabula and other precious early books printed on good nourishing rag paper”. Although it is impossible to say exactly when these pesky insects feasted on our books, it was probably fairly early on in their history.

Categories: Library, Special Collections

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1 reply

  1. Spotter’s Badge for Baldwin!

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