Workshop on Medieval Manuscripts (October 1991)

August 26, 2016 in Manuscript Studies, Seminars on Manuscript Evidence, Uncategorized

“The Production, Make-Up and Handling
of Medieval Manuscripts:
A Workshop”

5 October 1991

MS Production & Handling Workshop Invitation 5 Oct 1991 with border

5 October 1991 Prospectus

Invitation Cover Letter for Research Group Workshop on 'The Production, Make-Up and Handling of Medieval Manuscripts' on 5 October 1991 at the Parker Library

Cover Letter for 5 October 1991

Accompanying the Series of Seminars on the Evidence of Manuscripts
The Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Invitation in pdf in 3 pages with Cover Letter, Prospectus, and RSVP Form.

The previous Seminar in the series considered
“Technical Literature and its Form and Layout in Early Medieval Manuscripts”
(Parker Library, July 1991).

[First published on 26 August 2016]

Issued on Research Group letterhead, the 1-page description of the workshop (the “Prospectus”) accompanying the 1-page Invitation Letter, dated 14 September 1991, describes the plan.  The Invitation Letter lays the ground work.

The Invitation Letter describes the impetus for the workshop scheduled for Saturday, 5 October in the Parker Library:

The Research Group at the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, plans to hold a series of one-day workshops on the production, make-up, and handling of medieval manuscripts.  The Library receives many readers — both beginners and experienced scholars — who have had little training in how a manuscript is formed and so in how it should be handled.  Few of our younger visitors have been instructed on this subject.  Many of our visitors and colleagues have expressed strong interest in workshops which might provide such training.

We will hold a trial workshop to see if it serves a purpose, and answers scholars’ questions. We propose to hold it on Saturday, 5 October.  It will take place in the Parker Library, beginning at 11:00 a.m.  After a break of about one hour for lunch, it will continue through the afternoon until about 4:00 or 4:30 p.m.

We would very much like you to join this experiment.  Numbers are limited, so we hope that you could fill in the accompanying slip and return it to us as soon as possible.

The Prospectus states that:

This workshop is intended for research workers and supervisors, for librarians and keepers of early manuscripts and for students intending to work on such sources.  It aims to define good library practice by examining the materials used and the methods by which they are brought together into manuscript form.  The workshop will be organized by the Conservation Officer to the Cambridge Colleges Consortium [that is, Nicholas Hadgraft], in association with the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence at the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where meetings will be held.

We hope to encourage teachers of medieval studies to direct heir students in the proper treatment of manuscripts, so that they can come prepared when they wish to work in libraries which contain these source materials.  We wish to examine both theory and practice, and to give an opportunity to those attending to learn the difficulties and special circumstances of manuscript production and conservation.

Then it sets out “the themes”, numbered 1 to 6, that the Workshop “will include”:

  1. A general introduction to medieval binding structures, and how they differ from most modern structures.  This will provide guidance on how to handle various types of manuscripts, for example by using modern models in place of originals.  It will also examine methods of storage in medieval and modern times.
  2. A guide to the various materials used for manuscripts.  This will demonstrate how to handle them safely, and what their conservation means in practice.  We intend to mount a small exhibition from the holdings of the Parker Library.
  3. The sewing structures of medieval bindings.  We will discuss and demonstrate different types of sewing.  Everyone will be given a chance to try his or her hand at sewing
  4. Revived medieval types and techniques in modern bindings.  We will consider their revival by great modern binders like Roger Powell and Douglas and Sandy Cockerell, and the handling characteristics of newly-bound manuscripts.
  5. Book-coverings in different ages.  We will demonstrate specific types, with a running commentary.
  6. A question-and-answer session.  Both practical and theoretical questions can be put to a small group of technical experts.

MS Production & Handling Workshop Invitation 5 Oct 1991 with borderParticipants


R.I. Page, Mildred Budny, Nicholas Hadgraft, Tim Graham, Gill Cannell, Jeremy Griffiths, Judith Jesch, Catherine Hall, Nigel Wilkins


A 1-page questionnaire, prepared and printed out by Nicholas Hadgraft, was circulated at the event. Its title “WORKSHOP ON MEDIEVAL BOOKBINDINGS ETC.” sums up the essence of the subject-matter, as reflected in the 6-point themes of the Prospectus.

The Research Group Archives retain a photocopy of his questionnaire as handed out on the day, but no copies of any responses to it.  Our Archives do, however, retain the signed originals of the completed RSVP forms for the Invitation Letter.  Thus we record the names of participants.

The handwritten response by our Associate Alexander R. Rumble, apologising for not being able to attend (‘I am afraid that I am busy then — term starts here 30 September’), moreover adds the ‘P.S. Many thanks for putting me on your letterfoot!’


Workshops in the Series

Cover for Preliminary Report of the January 1994 Workshop on 'Image Processing and Manuscript Studies'

Report Cover

Invitation to 'Imaging Aids for Manuscript Studies' Workshop Invitation, Page 1

‘Imaging’ Invitation, page 1

Other Research Group events which accompanied the Series of Seminars on the Evidence of Manuscripts included several described as “Workshops” or the like.  Examples include:

  • Some of the events in Japan in November and December 1992
  • “Imaging Aids in the British Library”
    (British Library, December 1993):
    A 1-Day Visit in preparation for the next month’s event:
  • “Image-Processing and Manuscript Studies”
    (Parker Library, January 1994)
    with a Report Booklet
    — plus an “Appendix”
    on the December 1993 Visit to the British Library
  • “Pigments in Selected Corpus Manuscripts”
    Parker Library, March 1994


The Seminar Sequence

The next Seminar in the Series considered
“Sixteenth-Century Transcripts of Anglo-Saxon Texts”
(Parker Library, October 1991).

Invitation to Seminar on '16th-Century Transcripts of Anglo-Saxon Texts' on 12 October 1991