After much careful planning and preparation we finally held the main project workshop/seminar at the John Rylands Library in Manchester on Thursday 3 July, inviting some twenty colleagues from around the world to hear our report on progress made and to report back on their experiences as collaborators and offer advice as specialists in the field. In the morning session the Manchester Team of Caroline Checkley-Scott, Julianne Simpson and Stephen Milner together with project Research Associates Sarah Fiddyment and Simone Testa summarised the work undertaken over the last five months as a result of the University of Manchester Research Institute (UMRI) grant for the Venetian Vellum project, covering techniques, travels and tribulations-and sharing results.
In the afternoon session we had the pleasure of hearing papers by three invited speakers with particular interest in parchment use and printing: Neil Harris from the University of Udine who spoke on the printing of parchment books and the specific challenges of parchment as medium;
Randall MacLeod from Toronto who spoke on the ghosts found in the bearing type of Aldine parchment books;
and Cheryl Porter from the National Library of Cairo who examined the production processes of producing purple parchment and the significance of species identification for her work.
After a brief break for tea we retired to the Bible Room where Julianne Simpson had put out eight volumes from the Ryland’s own rich collection of parchment books including the Barbarigo copy of the 1501 edition of Petrarch’s Le cose volgari , the 1502 Ovid replete with purple leaf and illumination and the Ryland’s parchment copy of Nicolas Jenson’s 1476 Pliny Historia naturale. It was fascinating to have experts on different aspects of parchment production and the printing process gathered around specific volumes and bringing their expertise to bear in the reading of the books as material objects.
Big thanks to all those who made the effort to attend by rising early in the morning and getting plane, train and automobiles to Manchester to join us: John Goldfinch and Stephen Parkin from Eton and the BL, Charlotte Miller from Sothebys, Suzanne Reynolds from Holkham Hall, Brian Richardson from University of Leeds and Nicolas Barker.