Comparative studies in Cambridge University Library

Cruising into Cambridge

Cruising into Cambridge

Today the Venetian Vellum team are in sunny Cambridge University Library with Ed Potten, Head of Special Collections, Jim Bloxam, Head of Conservation and Emma Nicholls, conservator. The aim of this particular visit is to look at and sample incunables printed on parchment from across Europe including a 1465 Cicero De Officiis printed by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer.

Furst's first Cicero

Fust & Schoeffer’s Cicero

We also looked at parchment books, indulgences and broadsides from printing centres in Barcelona, Paris, Mainz and Venice, the aim of which is to consider animal type, availability and quality of the parchment in the very early stages of printing.

Indulgance, 1490

Indulgence, 1490 printed by Peter Schoeffer

Of the texts examined and rubbed for eraser crumbs another key parameter gathered is the thickness of the parchment itself. This is measured using a micrometer. We found that those measured today varied in thickness from 0.15-0.42mm. We are going to use this data to examine production process and technological modifications in parchment production across Europe with the help of Jiri Vnoucek.

We were joined at the library by Edward Cheese, conservator for the Cambridge Conservation Consortium, where we discussed the non destructive nature of the sampling and whether there might be other suitable candidates for our corpus in other Cambridge colleges.

In the evening we had dinner with both the previous Head of Conservation of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Bob Procter, and current successor Kristine Rose, and conservator from the Cambridge University Library Shaun Thompson to discuss other Cambridge collaborations and potential candidates for the June Italy roadtrip.

Blogging in Fitzbillies just before heading north to Holkham Hall. Chelsea bun highly recommended!

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