This unusual shot I took some time ago when I visited the Abbey of Rolduc, in the south of the Netherlands. While my finger carefully lifts the loose cover of a sixteenth-century printed book, you are shown the inside of the binding, where the backs of the quires are held together by a horizontal strip of parchment. What so special about this scene is the fact that this strip was cut from a handwritten medieval manuscript - old-fashioned and therefore ideal for cutting up and recycling, binders thought. And so this early-fifteenth-century handwritten Dutch Bible found itself being sliced and diced. “I loved once,” the exposed text reads with a flair of irony and tragedy (Ic hebbe gheminnet). My finger allowed the strip to peek at the world again for the first time in centuries: that thought alone makes research of these fragments a thrilling activity.
Pic (my own): Rolduc Abbey, printed book in the attic library. More on fragments in this blog post.