For much of the Middle Ages dead cows were the main ingredient for books. What was frolicking in the meadow one month, may have been a page in a Bible the next.
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From scraping skin and cutting quills to painting and bookbinding, making a manuscript is a long, complex process.
Angular or rounded? Medieval script reveals not only what the author wrote, but when and where the book was made.
Go on, judge a book by its sound. The thinner the parchment, the higher the pitch—and the price.
This 1000-year-old math primer is nothing fancy, but it took months for a scribe to make.
Animal skin lent a durable writing surface to medieval scribes. When tanned and tooled, it also protected books.
Is that a body, or a book? Arms, hands, feet, skulls—all can feature in the anatomy of a medieval manuscript.
Medieval libraries hid a forest in their shelves—wood boards, covered and clasped, protected precious parchment.
Decorators drew inspiration from design books, from enlarged capitals to elaborate figures in the margins.
From penwork and gilding to one-letter stories, decorators offered a range of services to dazzle medieval readers.
Like modern marketers, medieval scribes advertised on posters and even inserted “spam” pages into texts.
Caroline Minuscule, the main script of the early Middle Ages, was replaced by Gothic—and later, “Times Roman.”
Long before ruled notebooks hit the shelves, medieval writers lined, laid out, and folded their own parchment.