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Friday, June 28, 2013

One man's trash......

By now several hundred people passing through the studio have commented with amazement on "those old books up there".  What they are seeing on the shelf above the radio are not books at all, at least not anymore.   They are the remains of the bindings of two volumes of a very large Antiphonal published in Venice in 1506.  The story is that a Toronto bookdealer bought the 3 volumes in "very defective condition", i.e. missing numerous pages and, deciding to sell the individual pages of music as objects for framing, razored the pages out  of the bindings and made them available for sale individually in clear plastic sleeves.  The music was beautifully printed on heavy, textured paper, the notes and staves very large on the  20''x14'' pages so that the whole choir could see from a distance. I gather they sold like hotcakes.

What remains are the covers which I had the great luck to acquire before they were disposed of. They came  complete with the binding structure intact, the (pink!) split alum tawed sewing supports let into chiseled slots in the covers, parchment spine liners, brass bosses, what appears to be blind tooled sheepskin-but maybe it's goat- over 1/2" thick wooden boards comprised of planks joined together at the edges with nailed-on iron straps. The rope  headband cores had been laced into the boards.  There were three of these treasures and I grabbed them all, later giving one to my teacher Betsy Palmer Eldridge who, I knew would find such an object both amusing and instructive.  With the pages gone they make it very easy to see how the sewing worked. And all that weight of paper gone. So handy.

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