A Carolingian Manuscript Fragment from the Ninth Century in Amsterdam University Library, used as the Binding for ‘Band 1 E 22’

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Band 1 E 22 is a copy of Calvin’s In viginti prima Ezechielis Prophetae capita Praelectiones (1565) and belonged to the French lawyer and resident of Geneva, Germain Colladon. The manuscript leaves used for this binding are early medieval and unusual in being very carefully positioned on the binding. Nicholas Pickwoad’s account of the binding reconstructs and explains how the binder used the medieval manuscript leaves to display them on an otherwise very conventional French-style binding and highlights its significance in the history of bookbinding. Rosamond McKitterick identifies the text of both leaves as part of an Epistle Lectionary, or possibly a full Mass Lectionary, and demonstrates how the script, decoration, and mise-en-page enable these leaves to be recognized as the work of the scribes and artists working for Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne, king of the Franks (840-77) and Emperor (875-77). It can be dated c.860.


A Journal Devoted to Manuscripts and Printed Books




Nicholas Pickwoad, ‘The Interpretation of Bookbinding Structure. An Examination of the Sixteenth-Century Bindings in the Ramey Collection in the Pierpont Morgan Library’, The Library, 6th series, 17 (1995), pp. 221-3 [repr. in: Eloquent Witnesses: Bookbindings and Their History, ed. Mirjam M. Foot (London 2004), pp. 137-9].


B. Bischoff, ‘Gallikanische Epistelperikopen’, Studien und Mitteilungen O.S.B., 50 (1932), pp. 516-9. See also the list of early examples in Vogel, op. cit. (n. 11), pp. 325-47.


A. Wilmart, ‘Le lectionnaire d’Alcuin’, Ephemerides Liturgicae, 51 (1937), pp. 136-97; A. Wilmart, ‘Le Lectionnaire de Saint-Père’, Speculum, 1 (1926), pp. 269-78.


A. Wilmart, ‘Le comes de Murbach’, Revue bénédictine, 30 (1913), pp. 25-69.


R. McKitterick, ‘Charles the Bald and his Library: the Patronage of Learning’, English Historical Review, 95 (1980), pp. 28-47; and ‘The Palace School of Charles the Bald’, in: Nelson and Gibson, op. cit. (n. 24), pp. 326-39, both reprinted in R. McKitterick, The Frankish Kings and Culture in the Early Middle Ages (Aldershot 1995), chapters 5 and 6. Full exposition with black and white reproductions of all decorated pages in W. Koehler and F. Mütherich, Die Hofschule Karls des Kahlen (Die karolingischen Miniaturen, 5; Berlin 1982).


  • Left board of Band 1 E 22
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  • Spine of Band 1 E 22
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  • Right board of Band 1 E 22
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  • Rubbings of the interiors of both boards, showing the turn-ins, the sewing support lacing-in and the endleaf guards
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  • The arrangement of the manuscript leaves on the binding.

    Red = right leaf. Blue = left leaf. Black = the outline of the outside of the book.

    The grey areas represent the painted framed areas on each leaf.
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  • Reconstruction of the leaf used to cover the right board and spine 293 × 228 mm approx.
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  • Reconstruction of the watermark in the endleaves
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  • Sewing support 4, showing the linked or herringbone sewing on the double support
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  • CT-scan of the Band 1 E 22 showing the slips of sewing support 2 laced through the boards. Courtesy Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam
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  • Plough marks on the head edge close to the spine
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  • Plough marks on the tail edge close to the spine
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  • Psalter of Charles the Bald, Paris, BnF Lat. 1152, f. 26v
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  • Psalter of Charles the Bald, Paris, BnF Lat. 1152, f. 27r
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  • The Prayer Book of Charles the Bald, produced between 846 and 869, Inv. ResMuSch. 4 Residenz Munchen, Schatzkammer, f. 9r, showing the gold heading on a purple band, gold minuscule script and decorated border
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