Programme and abstracts 2021

Wednesday, 14 April

Session 1 (12:00-13:30 CEST6:00-7:30 am EDT)

Session 1A

Precious and brittle: Conservation and research on the late medieval prayer book of Mary of Guelders

The challenges of a Romanesque re-binding: The Psalter of St. Paul’s Cathedral

Winchester’s binder Beatrice Forder at work 1947-1948

Session 2 (13:45-15:15 CEST7:45-9:15 am EDT)

Session 1B

Pigments of Western European wax seals: Norms and exceptions

The making of wax seals is a complex process transforming over time. The information about constituents used for production of wax seals varies. It has been mentioned that the oldest wax seals were made of bees’ wax and gyps, but later the wax and pitch or resin mixture were used. Other sources reflect that the oldest seals were made of pure bees’ wax and only in later centuries wax were mixed together with colour pigments.

The work is based on the collections of the National Archives of Latvia (Riga collection) and the collection of academician Nikolai Petrovich Likhachev (1862-1936), which is currently kept in the Archives of the St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg collection). The examined objects come from Livonia, France, Germany, Italy and are dated from 12th to 17th centuries.

The following methods were used: transmitted light optical microscopy, X-ray Fluorescence analysis (laboratory (M1 Mistral Bruker) and portable (Olympus Vanta C), FTIR (Alpha II Bruker) spectroscopy – for St. Petersburg collection, and Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDXRF) (Rigaku Supermini 200) analysis, and X-ray Diffraction (XRD) (A D8 ADVANCE Bruker AXS GMBH) analysis – for Riga collection. Data obtained by various natural-scientific methods was supplemented by information extracted from written sources (accounts and technological manuals). As a result it was determined that the set of pigments used for the manufacture of seals was relatively narrow. Primarily it happened due to the poor range of colours: red, black, green, as well as natural wax, which was perceived as uncolored in some regions and yellow in others, i.e. had a colour differentiation. It should be noted that in the Western tradition there was no blue wax, which was rarely found in Russian practice. The most common pigments were a cinnabar for red seals and a copper pigments for green seals. Despite the stability of this practice, there were exceptions. For example, the research revealed a seal of German origin, which stood out among others because of its dark burgundy tone. The investigations have shown that it was colored with a pigment containing a large amount of iron, presumably hematite. Another exception to the common practice was the seal made from “cera di Spagna” or “Spanish wax”, which does not contain the usual elements (Hg, Pb, Cu). Apparently, this seal was manufactured without any colour pigment.

In addition to the seals, wax boxes (custodia) were studied. Most of them contain no mineral pigments. The exception is the seal of King Sigismund I of Poland. It is coloured with cinnabar, and the box contains lead.

In conclusion, the problem of transformation of the color of seals under the influence of time and external conditions were considered. Western European seals of green color, made with copper pigments, tend to darken. This complicates their study and description. Previously, gas chromatography was used to detect the pigment. However, this method is destructive, so it is not recommended for historical heritage objects. The report proposes a method of detecting copper pigments using a portable X-ray fluorescence analyser and ultraviolet radiation source.

This research will provide important data on wax seals’ composition and that in turn will help.

Conserving and preserving a 15-century Italian antiphonary: Non-traditional binding conservation techniques and an innovative all-in-one housing, display, and moving device

St. Catherine's condition survey: Considerations for Linked Data

Session 2A

Biocodicology by numbers: How to? How many? How much?




Proteomics and genomics, two parts of the emerging field of biocodicology offer huge benefits for the care and conservation of manuscripts. By reading the biological record contained within parchments we can further our understanding of a manuscripts use, storage conditions and current state of preservation.

Proteomics, specifically eZooMS, allows for the collagen within parchment documents to be probed, these analyses can recover the species of the animal used to make the parchment and evidence of damage to the collagen molecules can provide information on parchment manufacture.

DNA analyses can further interrogate the animal who’s skin became parchment, allowing the sex of the animal to be deduced as well as a species ID and possibly an insight into its geographical origins. Moreover DNA technologies allow the interrogation of the bacterial and fungal species whose DNA remains on the surface of the document.

However, although these techniques are becoming more widely available, some common questions remain about their use, cost and efficacy in a conservation and a wider manuscript scholarship setting.

This paper aims to give an opinionated but practical overview of how proteomic and genomic technologies can be applied to manuscripts with a focus on numbers. How much these analyses cost, how many samples can be realistically processed in a certain time frame, what does the data looks like and how it can be integrated with the existing manuscript catalogues.

Two case studies will be presented to illustrate the pros and cons of each technique, when best to employ one or the other and what it can mean in terms of results, price and length of time.

With ever increasing pressure to maximise access and use in libraries and archives but still adhering to very limited budgets, it is important to be able to make informed decisions as to where the funds are best spent. We hope that with this practical guide we can help inform curators and conservators about what options are available, but more importantly when certain methods may not be the best use of resources to answer particular questions.


(Bio)codicological investigation of a medieval palimpsest: the AM795 4to manuscript from the Arnamagean collection





ArcHives: Biomolecular record of bees in medieval sealing wax





Session 2b

Naumburger choir books: Oversized wooden-board conservation




From Florence to Rome: Conserving Italian stationery bindings at Harvard University





Care and conservation in Zwetti Cistercian Monastery


Care and conservation in Zwettl Cistercian Monastery





Session 3 (15:30-17:00 CEST9:30-11:00 am EDT)

Session 3a

Colombina 5-3-25, or how Hernando Colón processed information for his catalogues





Before Denmark: The Sevillian roots of Arnamagnaean collection of Spanish manuscripts





Dehydrate, duplicate, distil: Perserving the Universal Library





Session 3b

Recovery and conservation of the library collection in Virgin Mary Church of the Syriac community in Mardin, Turkey





Archaeological investigations into Codex Marcianus Gr. VII, 22 (1466): reconstructing its manufacture and structure





Georgian manuscripts on parchment from the Korneli Kekelidze Georgian National Centre of Manuscripts: Perspectives of interdisciplinary study




The Georgian manuscript tradition has a history of 16 centuries (from 5th c.). It has received the already existing approved experience of book creation and facilitated further development of national, traditional branches. By the commencement of manuscript tradition two varieties of writing material, papyrus and parchment, Georgian scholarship gave priority to skin or parchment. For Georgian palimpsest s of 5th-6th cc. are copied on broad leaves of well processed high quality parchment; in 9th-10th cc. in Georgia manuscripts of monastic or special purpose copied on parchment are written broadly generously, without sparing the leaf proving ones more that production of skin writing material in the country had attained an appropriate level.

The situation differs with respect to Georgian books created at foreign scriptoriums. These are books compiled in Palestine in 10th c. – the Iadgari, collection of annual hymns for holidays and a fragment of Psalms. In the latter book it is not only papyrus that is used as writing material but parchment as well. The collection is known as rush parchment iadgari ( National Center of Manuscripts, H-1329).

In foreign scriptoria men of letters often received donations from Georgian kings, nobles and Georgian church either in monetary form or in the shape of the material needed for the book – “celebratory books”: Vani Four Gospels, high quality white parchment, adorned with rich vaults, headpieces, miniatures; copied in Romana monastery, Constantinople, created for Queen Tamar, on her order (12th-13th cc. NMC, A-1335); Alaverdi Four Gospels, high quality parchment, adorned with ornamental capital letters and nine miniatures; created in Calipos Laura, Black Mountain (1054, NCM, A-484). The quality of the parchment was of special importance in the process of preparation of the scrolls (NCM, Ad-933, historical document, 13th c.). The parchment retained a leading position to the 14th c. and later too (17th-18th cc.).

There are more than 3 hundred Georgian manuscript fragments on parchment in the collections of the National Center of Manuscripts. The team of the Center (codicologists, restorator-conservators, chemists) had developed the project - Codicological Analysis of Fragmentary Manuscripts and Structural research of writing material. Purpose of the project is multidisciplinary study of the Georgian manuscript fragments on the parchment (9th-16th cc.): codicological research, determination of artistic value, diagnostic of the manuscript material structure and determination of the preservation terms, formation of the database and involvement of the existing material into international scientific circulation. New field of manuscript studies, fragmentology, which studies origin, composition, migration, material, illumination, direct relation with the manuscript and, generally, with the generating culture, is one of the important fields of modern codicology.

A total amount of fragments on the parchment is 333 units. Their chronological frame covers IX-XVI centuries. The Fund of fragments is permanently renewable. In the processes of studying the manuscript covers or working on the personal archive fund, the fragments were discovered, among them parchments as well. Interdisciplinary study of Georgian manuscript fragments - codicological research of the structure of the manuscript material is an innovation in the studies of manuscripts, textological-codicological study of the manuscripts and structural research of the material in complex, among them, of the fragmentary manuscripts by considering the demands of quite a new branch of codicology – fragmentology has not been done yet.


Session 4 (17:15-18:30 CEST11:15 am-12:30 pm EDT)

Session 4a

The missing piece of Hernando Colón’s library: Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 377 fol.





The Book of books: Hernando Colón’s Libro de los epítomes





Session 4b

Tracing the histories of medieval manuscripts: A new digital environment for provenance research


Toby Burrows ( United Kingdom: University of Oxford




Late Antique parchment: Basic characteristics, methods of preparation and conservation problems




Parchment of the Late Antique manuscripts including earliest preserved codices from the fourth and fifth century have not been despite of its exceptional qualities properly studied and remains in certain way unknown territory of the studies of the writing material. Major attention was in the past paid to actual manuscripts containing mostly biblical texts written in Greek while its fine and thin parchment was described only by few words and often considered to be vellum (calf parchment) despite the fact that the Late Antique parchment is almost exclusively prepared from sheepskins.

Parchment of these manuscripts was prepared by very advanced method that confirms high level of development of various technologies in the Greek-Roman world but knowledge of preparation has started to disappear after the fall of the Roman Empire. Despite the fact that after the end the seventh century became method of preparation of sheep parchment modified and later completely replaced by different methods that has dramatically changed its appearance and characteristics, sheep parchment continued as writing material its journey through the history and was also widely used for manuscripts in the medieval period. However at this time it was already the calf parchment that was considered to be best available writing material for the luxurious manuscripts while sheep parchment was often determined as rough material of poor quality.

My paper is going to be focused mostly on detail description of the characteristics of the Late Antique parchment and methods of its manufacture which development can be also demonstrated by changes in the way of reparation of various defects that appeared during the processing of the skins.

For the research of this unique writing material were used my own methods of visual analyses of parchment which are based on the observation of the traces coming from the method of its manufacture and observation of the anatomy of animals whose skins were used for its production. Visual analyses were in some cases also supported by biomolecular analyses that helped with precise identification of the animal species. As very valuable was also found experimental parchment making thanks to which (and often by accident) were in several cases revealed and reconstructed some of the technological mysteries.

Study of parchment of approximately twenty Late Antique codices (and their fragments) includes the Codex Vaticanus (B), the Freer Gospels or the Vienna Dioscurides and also several luxurious manuscripts written on purple parchment as the Vienna Genesis and the Codex Rossanensis. Beside of that will be discussed possible influence on development of colouring techniques of calf parchment produced during Carolingian renaissance and evaluated some problems coming from preservation and conservation of damaged folios of manuscripts.


Inter-agency collaborations for the preservation of choir books at the National Museum of Viceroyalty, Mexico





Thursday, 15 April

Session 5 (11:00-12:00 CEST5:00-6:00 am EDT)

Session 5a

Letters Patent for the establishment of Roman Catholic Church confraternities in 17th-century Greece: Typology, materials and aspects of preservation





Original decorated remnants under a 16th-century Syriac re-binding





Session 5b

EXTENSE: Preparing materials for digitisation




In April 2019, I started a new project at the Estense University Library in Modena - Italy. The Biblioteca Estense was created at the behest of the Este family―Lords of Ferrara―as early as the late fourteenth century, the two remaining closely intertwined until the dissolution of the duchy and unification of Italy.

The project named Extense aims to digitalize three important collections of the Modena’s library:

  1. the collection of music manuscripts and printed books composed by 4.000 records of volumes and single quires from XIV century to XIX;
  2. the large size maps made by paper or parchments from the XV century to the XX century;
  3. Muratori’s collection composed by letters and single folios documents from XVII to XVIII century.

A team of conservators, software engineer, digitizers, librarians and metadata expert is working on a Digital Humanities project under the supervision of Jeffrey Schnapp. The project will produce a platform with digitalized materials and metadata with IIIF and high standards. The conservator is working to stabilize the materials before digitalization and helping during digitization process, searching of new techniques to protect the integrity of the objects.


Storing an oversized Museau de Lisboa textile banner collection





Session 6 (12:15-13:45 CEST6:15-7:45 am EDT)

Session 6a

Book culture in North-western India: An insight into the production of handwritten and graphic documents in the 19th century





An illuminated Egyptian manuscript from the 17th century: Codicology, ink and copper corrosion, conservation





Conservation of Coptic parchment fragments and a bifolio





Session 6b

B68: Riddles and revelations




The Swedish 15th c. law manuscript UUB Ms. B68 has been the subject of intensified research by art historians, linguists, medievalists, and others. In conjunction to a symposium on the manuscript it was decided to further investigate its material components too see what could be added to its history. A thorough investigation of the binding was carried out in 2018 at Uppsala university library and BioArch at York university. This paper will describe current research, results from the determination of animal species for the parchment and a dating for the binding (which was added to the manuscript at a later stage), based on the identification of watermarks in the endpapers of the new binding. A full description of the collation will be presented as well as new digital methods for tracing watermarks in paper. The manuscript is fully published in the digital repository Alvin and this publication will be discussed as a way to publish a manuscript, its binding, its provenance, and its watermarks in a comprehensive way.


A manuscript for the head: The 13th-century illuminated parchment mitre of Jacques de Vitry




After the death of Bishop Jacques de Vitry in 1240 in Rome, his personal belongings were send to the monastery in Oignies (Belgium). One of the objects was an illuminated parchment miter produced in an workshop in Paris.

The miter is composed of two pieces of semi-stiff support of white alum tanned leather. On top of this, white taffetas silk in rectangular shape was mounted, decorated with gold and black paint (depicting two angels). The illuminated parchment strips (6 in total) were added on top of this, stitched through the layer of silk and tawned leather. The front of the miter is illuminated and consists of a lower horizontal register (the circulas) with an arcade under which the twelve seated apostles are depicted. On the vertical element (titulus) on the front of the miter, three medallions ware painted on a gilded background. On the lappets ten figures are represented, on the top of the left lappet Christ, on the right the Virgin Mary. The borders are simulating large precious stones, as would be on a real mitra preciosa. The illuminated mitre is an unique reply to precious metal and embroidered liturgical vestments.

The lecture will discuss the provenance, the iconography and stylistic features of the illuminations. The material composition of the illuminations and the ‘codicology’ of the miter will be put in focus, as the fragile miter was studied in a multidisciplinary way during the conservation treatment in 2017. A combination of analytical and imaging techniques were used to support the research and to develop the material characteristics, its conservation history, as the miter was adapted during the middle ages.

Macro X-ray Fluorescence scanning was used to investigate in a non-invasive way the painting materials on the parchment support. Although the implementation of this technique on the highly undulating and degraded parchment fragments was not so obvious, it gave remarkable results. Scanning of the illuminations resulted in detailed images which allowed not only to identify the used pigments and metal applications but which gave a condition evaluation at the same time.

Imaging was performed with multispectral imaging combined with photometric stereo, by the Portable Light Dome (PLD). This device allows in-depth visualizations through advanced filters, metric and visual monitoring, extraction of metric data, identification of materials and comparison of material characteristics on the topography of the artefact. Finally, highly detailed macro-photos with the Hirox 3D binocular document the technologies to create and consolidate the mitre.

The conservation was done in close collaboration between the manuscript and the textile conservator. The research project on the parchment mitre was a collaboration between KU Leuven - Book Heritage Lab, Illuminare, the Digitisation department of the University Libraries and the Laboratories and Textile Conservation Department of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (2017-2018), a conservation and research project commissioned by the King Boudewijn Foundation for the Treasury of Oignies in Namur.


Conservation treatment of the illuminated ancestor-table of “Josse de Lalaing”, knight of the Golden Fleece





Session 7 (14:00-15:30 CEST8:00-9:30 am EDT)

Session 7a

The miniatures of the manuscript The Vienna Genesis: A study of pigments and painters





The conservation and digitization of 41 volumes of the Yongle Dadian, a Ming Dynasty era encyclopedia at the Library of Congress





Manuscript ghosts: Uncovering early manuscript structures via MicroCT





Session 7b

Honouring the past while preparing for the future: Conservation of a 15th-century manuscript on the life on St. Augustine





Lepidochromy at the Natural History Museum (London): Butterfly wings as a printing medium




This paper brings lepidochromy, the art of making transfer prints from butterfly wings, to a wider audience. I have conducted extensive primary and object-based research in the collections of the Natural History Museum (NHM) which I will support with existing literature to shape a history of this largely unknown technique. The Natural History Museum holds 17 collections of lepidochromous prints, containing several hundred prints overall, yet they have never been extensively explored. I will begin with a brief overview of nature printing, the broader genre to which lepidochromy belongs, to place the material in context. The materials and methods of lepidochromy will be traced across 300 years, primarily in England and France, using historical literature and examples from both countries.

This research employs microscopic analysis of NHM prints to refine our understanding of printing methods, allowing new insights into how and where the art developed, and is used to identify the earliest known example of one such method. What is lepidochromy? What was its appeal, and to whom? Why is it no longer practised? These are questions raised by this research. This paper has three aims: to broaden the awareness of lepidochromy, to encourage the identification of previously unknown collections of such prints, and to foster opportunities for further collaboration.

Historical background/context.

Nature printing includes any printing method in which a natural object acts as the printing matrix or is used to create one (i.e. a leaf pressed into a lead plate). Botanical nature prints were at their most popular in the late 19th century, as a craze for collecting ferns and seaweeds swept Europe. As printing technology evolved so too did subject matter: whether batwing or snakeskin, if an item could be flattened, it could be printed. A subset of this genre is the art of lepidochromy, in which a gummed paper is used to create a print from the wing scales of a butterfly. Lepidochromy developed over a more constricted timescale than printing from plants (between 1730 and 1950); this technique as unusual as the image which remains is not an impression but physically part of the item used to print it.


This research uses the collections of the Natural History Museum to highlight this relatively unknown, and certainly under-researched, printing technique. The scientific value of lepidochromous prints is questionable and the ethics of sourcing raw materials remain dubious: extant examples suggest its enduring appeal is artistic.

There is much scope for further research on this topic, such as:

  • Establishing a vocabulary (even ‘lepidochromy’ is not a universal term)
  • The technique’s use beyond Europe
  • Independent discovery vs sharing of knowledge
  • Hidden collections
  • Its value (or lack thereof) as a scientific illustration
  • Conservation/preservation challenges (wing scales stuck to paper with gum arabic)
  • Cross-disciplinary approaches to bibliography.

This paper seeks to consider lepidochromy’s relevance and appeal (or lack thereof), and the challenges it presents. It is hoped that by raising awareness, this paper will encourage curators to explore their own collections for examples. A greater knowledge of the locations, conditions, and techniques of lepidochromous prints will open avenues to consider the multi-disciplinary angles from which it can be further explored.


Revisiting the codicology of the Book of Ballycummin (RIA MS 23 N 10), a medieval Irish manuscript





Session 8 (15:45-17:15 CEST9:45-11:15 am EDT)

Session 8b

The conservation of Flateyjarbók





Paper trails in Iceland: Taking hyperspectral images of watermarks in paper in Icelandic collections





Biocodicology as an aid to locating the origin of materials: Investigation into the use of sealskins on manuscripts in the 12th and 13th centuries





Session 8a

The ongoing story of the Vinland Map and related manuscripts: New analytical tools offer new evidence, Part I and Part II




Pt 1: The Vinland Map was introduced to the world in 1965, as a newly discovered mid-15th century map of the world, purportedly showing both Greenland and a part of the northern coast of the North American continent known as ‘Vinland’. Some viewed this as an exciting revelation that proved the Vikings were the first to reach America, at least 50 years before Columbus. Others remained skeptical; doubt over the map’s authenticity fuelled decades of cartographical, historical and scientific research.

This presentation will trace the known history of the Vinland Map and its relationship with its seldom mentioned companions, a 15th century copy of the 4th volume of Beauvais’ Speculum Historiale, and a rare copy of a 13th century travelogue, the Hystoria Tartarorum. The structure, materials, and radiocarbon dates of both volumes and the map will be discussed, as well as a study of the dubious physical interventions made to them over the centuries. Multi-spectral examination of the inks, and recent analytical testing of the parchment using peptide mass fingerprinting and DNA analysis provides interesting new information, but also raises more questions about the mysterious Vinland Map.

Pt 2. For over 50 years, the Vinland Map has been the subject of intense interest and investigation by historians, cartographers, paleologists and scientists. Almost immediately after its debut questions arose that cast doubt on the Vinland Map's genuineness. For several decades scientific analysis has been one of the tools employed to attempt to address the authenticity question through examination of the parchment and ink used to create the map. While science cannot be used to prove a work of art or an artefact is genuine it is possible to establish that an object is likely a forgery if the materials from which it is made are inconsistent with the time period and geography of its purported origin.

This presentation will follow up on the history of the Vinland Map, Speculum Historiale, and the Hystoria Tartarorum by briefly providing an overview of the analytical results obtained by previous researchers. This will be followed by a description of new discoveries made possible through the application of scanning macro X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and other analytical tools. In order to learn more about ink components used in the time period and area of origin associated with the map, spectroscopic analysis of dozens of 15th century manuscript fragments was also carried out.


Mont Saint-Michel manuscripts: Focus on the scriptorium practices in the 11th century




Since the revolution, the city of Avranches watches over a real treasure: over 200 medieval manuscripts coming from the famous Mont Saint-Michel abbey. These manuscripts copied on parchment are dated between the 8th and 18th century, and half of them was produced by the Mont Saint-Michel scriptorium between the end of the 10th and the middle of the 13th century. This exceptional collection constitute a testimony of the writing and illuminating practices over a large period of time, for that reason a research project was started to characterize the different constitutive materials, namely the parchment, the colouring materials and the inks, in order to retrace the copyists practices.

This research conducted by the city of Avranches and the research center for preservation (CRC) focused in 2019 on manuscripts from the Romanesque period (end of 10th – 12th century), and in particular those dated before 1100, which represents a corpus of 46 items. This corpus benefits from the previous codicology studies that allowed to define group periods and attribute some manuscripts to known copyists [1]. From the physico-chemical analysis of the constitutive materials, we aim to confirm and complement these attribution, but also to provide precise chronological markers for the manuscripts produced in this scriptorium. In addition, the research aims to gains a better understanding of the pigments degradation, affecting mostly the reds and greens, to help with their conservation. In fine, the results gained from this study will be added to the virtual library ( and will be integrated into the Avranches scriptorial where the manuscripts are exhibited.

The scientific analyses were carried out in the patrimonial library of Avranches where the manuscripts are conserved, using mostly portable and non-invasive analytical techniques. Five experimental sessions have taken place in 2019. Prior to the analysis, visual observations were done at the macro and micro scale using different light sources. The colouring materials were identified from the combination of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and fiber optic reflectance spectroscopy (FORS) over the visible and near infrared range. In order to confirm some attribution or when the identification was not possible from the non-invasive approach, micro samples of pigments were taken to undertaken micro Raman spectrometry analysis in the laboratory. The results gained on the pigments will be compared to the work carried out by Claude Coupry on Fecamp manuscripts in 1990’s that revealed an evolution in the use of red and blue pigments [2, 3]. The organic binder was punctually identified using infrared spectroscopy in reflectance mode. For the inks, XRF was used to identify and quantify the elemental composition. The animal species of the parchment was determined from proteomic analysis using the peptide mass finger printing method applied to a micro sample of parchment.

In the coming months, 6 manuscripts from the corpus requiring more attention because of the fine and extensive illuminations, will come to Paris to be analysed using two additional imaging techniques: hyperspectral imaging and X-ray fluorescence scanner. These techniques will provide information on the nature and the repartition of the different colouring materials and their alteration.

The preliminary results gained from these ongoing analyses already revealed an evolution in the choice of the materials over time, or depending on the location in the manuscript. The completion of the analyses over the full corpus will help validate these first observations and allow to identify materials and practices that could be related to the scriptorium of the Mont Saint Michel. This knowledge will be useful largely to the scientific community, and serve as a reference to undertake comparative studies with contemporary manuscripts produced in other workshops in Normandy.


  1. John J. G. Alexander, Norman Illumination at Mont Saint-Michel, 966-1100, Oxford, 1970.
  2. Claude Coupry, « Les pigments utilisés pour l’enluminure à Fécamp aux XIe et XIIe siècles », in P. Bouet and M. Dosdat (dir.) Manuscrits et enluminures dans le monde normand (Xe-XVè siècle), Caen, 1999 (2005), p. 69-79
  3. Claude Coupry and Marie-Thérèse Gousset, « Des bleus et des rouges dans les manuscrits normands », dans Le Moyen âge à livres ouverts. Actes du colloque, Lyon, september 2002, Paris : FFCB, 2003, p. 47-56


Real or fake? Conservators, scientists and scholars join forces in debunking manuscript forgeries





Friday, 16 April

Session 9 (11:00-12:30 CEST5:00-6:30 am EDT)

Session 9a

Alcobaça bookbinding as a hidden treasure: The case study of an Expositio in Evangelium Matthei





Fantastic features and where to find them: Title-tabs and other unique features of the Notarial Bindings in Malta





Risen from the ashes: Balancing the historic and archival in the conservation of Charlotte Canning’s Indian Journals





Session 9b

Checklist for the digitisation of manuscripts





Medieval Armenian miniature: Research and conservation of the paint-layer on the example of the Matenadran manuscripts





Gigantic and tiny manuscripts and their cradles at the renovated Israel Museum in Jerusalem





Session 10 (12:45-14:15 CEST6:45-8:15 am EDT)

Session 10a

A collaborative digitization project in progress: The Polonsky Foundation Greek Manuscripts Project





Accessible linked scholarly and scientific data- visualisation for manuscripts





The conservation of an 11th-century Greek binding: Its role as an artefact and a functioning binding





Session 10b

16th–century German-style bindings from the Special Collections of the University Library in Bergen





Recording bookbinding structures and their visualizations as communication tools




As recently as the 1970s, bookbinding studies were essentially synonymous with bookbinding decoration studies, with little consideration given to binding structures. However, since the last decade of the 20th century, scholars have established new approaches to the study of book-bindings that have resulted in novel descriptive and investigative practices focussed on the material and structural elements of bindings, and their mechanics(1). Correspondingly, archaeological investigations into book-bindings have an increasing need for shared standards and methodologies in description and terminology.

Based on the work of the new wave of bookbinding historians, this paper explores common challenges and potential solutions to studying and modelling bookbindings for researchers and conservators.

The book in codex format is the result of a series of operations and structures that work in concert for the functioning of this complex object. Just like a car’s blueprint, for example, implies the difference between a heap of parts and a well-structured and functioning vehicle, bookbinding description requires more than mere listing of materials and components because of their mereological & ontological complexity — . A good description, therefore, needs to be able to convey information on the material components of bookbinding structures (with their whole/part relationships) and their spatial configurations. In addition, if this information is provided through formal and structured means, such as eXtensible Markup Language (XML) or JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) or Resource Description Framework (RDF) files, for example, then it is possible to harness this information and transform it automatically into diagrammatic drawings that exemplify visually the structures being described, allowing for a more immediate communication. These visualizations are particularly useful for conservators as they can be annotated and printed with ease. In addition, because of the immediacy and the synchronicity of information presented through visual means, these visualizations provide an information accuracy system that allows to quickly check and correct data collected in the database, especially for the less computer savvy users(2).

Inspired by this work and the minimal research dedicated to book structure the University of Toronto has embarked on the Mellon-funded project, The Book and the Silk Roads. Its aim is to reimagine the history of the premodern book as an object whose concealed structure contains vital information about its manufacture and thus about the development of book technology. As part of our development goals, our team will develop a binding visualization application which will allow scholars to create simple representations of the structures of codexes. The tool, VisCodex, will be developed with Campagnolo’s consultation and make use of and extend existing shared vocabularies (Language of Bindings), and schemas (ex. Ligatus) in the book history community. The resulting application will enable scholars to create useful visualizations of bindings that communicate their findings clearly. In keeping with our technological philosophy, this application will prioritize data curation and transferability, thereby ensuring that all data can be exported with appropriate, standardized metadata to ensure enduring usability. The application will also allow users to upload images to present next to visualizations as well as add metadata and classifications to binding features. This paper will report on the overall development, challenges, use cases and technical considerations of VisCodex.

(1) János Alexander Szirmai, The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Aldershot; Burlington (VT): Ashgate, 1999); Mirjam M. Foot, ‘Bookbinding Research: Pitfalls, Possibilities and Needs’, in Eloquent Witnesses: Bookbindings and Their History, a Volume of Essays Dedicated to the Memory of Dr. Phiroze Randeria, ed. Phiroze Randeria and Mirjam M. Foot (London; New Castle (DE): Bibliographical Society; British Library; Oak Knoll Press, 2004), 13–29.

(2) Alberto Campagnolo, ‘Transforming Structured Descriptions to Visual Representations. An Automated Visualization of Historical Bookbinding Structures’ (PhD Thesis, University of the Arts London, 2015),; Alberto Campagnolo, ‘Errata (per Oculos) Corrige. Visual Identification of Meaningless Data in Database Records of Bookbinding Structures.’, in Care and Conservation of Manuscripts 15: Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Seminar Held at the University of Copenhagen, 2nd-4th April 2014 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press; University of Copenhagen and the Royal Library of Denmark, 2016), 79–88.


The 3½ foot Marciana celestial globe of Coronelli, 1689: Scientific investigation and conservation





Session 11 (14:30-16:00 CEST8:30-10:00 am EDT)

On lost manuscripts from the Arnamagnæan Collection





Reconstructing the dispersed collection of manuscripts owned by the Danish royal historiographer Thormodus Torfæus





How to count a manuscript: Cataloguing the Faroese manuscript material in the Arnamagnæan Collection