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University of Pennsylvania: MS LJS 184, Liber Ethimologiarum

Kyle Huskin, Author
New Discoveries, page 2 of 2

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Medieval Binding

When Quandt disassembled LJS 184's binding in 1990, she found original herringbone stitching to the textblock, as well as large scraps of green-dyed leather and small scraps of white-dyed leather used as turn-ins underneath the leather spine covering, underneath the pastedown (Quandt, figs. 4-8).  This provides evidence of at least one prior binding which was present before the pastedown and the wood covers were added.  Based on the handwriting of the document, she tentatively located the pastedown to the fourteenth century.  Thus, it would appear that LJS 184 was originally bound, shortly after its composition in the late thirteenth century, with a sturdy herringbone stitch to the wound alum-tawed support joints and thick, alum-tawed green leather cover which surrounded the entire book.  It was rebound sometime in the mid- to late-fourteenth century with the wooden covers it has today. 

Her conclusions, based on the evidence now buried within the manuscript's binding, corroborate mine, based on the pastedown's date of 1330 as well as internal evidence -- the discrepancy about the numbering of Books IX and X.  There scribe has left instructions to the rubricator ("explicit librum ix, incipit librum x," see annotation to image below), but these were apparently too small or faint for him to read, so he left the book division unmarked in the text's main body.  At a somewhat later point, but certainly still within the Middle Ages, someone else went through and labeled in lead point the book numbers, most likely as instructions to the person who did the decorative headers.  Because the division between Books IX and X was unmarked, however, he continued to label Book X as Book IX, and the decorator followed these instructions.  At a later period, someone realized the mistake and corrected it, scratching out the "I" to make "IX" into "X," and adding a book division in the main body of text. 

I would speculate that these markings were made during LJS 184's first rebinding, when the wooden boards with the pastedown were added. 

Modern Binding

There is clear evidence that LJS has been rebound at least three times in modern history -- once by H. P. Kraus, once presumably by an earlier owner (Horblit?), and once by Quandt in her efforts to preserve the manuscript's structural integrity.

The leaves were originally prepared for binding by the scribe.  He has labeled the leaves of each quire with letters A through F (once with Roman numerals I through VI), his "scribal signature."  He also provided rather elaborate catchwords at the end of each quire (excepting only the fifth); the vertical format supports LJS 184's Spanish origins, as this phenomenon was unique to Spain in the late-thirteenth century, only expanding to southern France and Italy in the mid- to late-fifteenth century (Quandt, n. 15).  With each rebinding, the order of pages has remained the same as what the scribe intended: no pages have been lost or removed, Gregory's Rule is obeyed throughout, and no leaves or quires are out of order. 

We can tell that it has been rebound by H. P. Kraus in 1979 because he wrote his conclusions in a collation formula at the end of the book, the letters "HPK" identifying him, and two collation formulas can be seen on the last verso leaf of each quire.  I suspect that Kraus's marks are the recto gutter ones (see "6/61" above), but it is impossible to know for sure whether his are the numbers-only marks or the letter-number ones.  

Whoever made the other marks (see "e/12" above) also appears to have added a catchword ("tia divinatio") to the bottom right of fol. 72v, as it is written in the same verso gutter location and with the same thick pencil as the letter-number collation formulas.   

In conclusion, the discernible binding history of LJS 184 looks something like this:
  1. ca. 1265-1299: the MS was bound for the first time with a green leather cover.
  2. ca. 1330-1400: the MS was rebound with its original support joints, the two wooden boards (which survive today), each lined with a trimmed-down sheet of cow-skin parchment, and a leather spine covering which was nailed to the wooden boards and which was slightly larger than the one present on the book in 1990.
  3. before 1990: the MS had its nailed-down, leather spine covering removed and replaced with a slightly smaller strip of leather, likely done several centuries after the first covering was put on, as the wooden boards are significantly lighter where the area covered by the larger one is now exposed.
  4. 1990-present: the MS was disassembled by Quandt under Stanitz's direction, the pastedown lifted from the wooden board, bits of its old bindings removed, its support joints reinforced, and a new leather covering the same size as the smaller one placed over the spine. 

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