Maculature in the van Buchell collection



Partner Institutions: Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l'information et des Bibliothèques (ENSSIB), Lyon; Utrecht University Library.

Financed By: Zeno Karl Schindler/Fragmentarium Fellowship

Fellow: Dr. Vito Santoliquido, ENSSIB

Project Supervisor: Dr. Bart Jaski, Utrecht University Library; Prof. Malcolm Walsby, ENSSIB

Maculature in the van Buchell collection

(I) Background. When Hu(y)bert van Buchell (1513-1599), canon of St Mary’s Church (1099), the wealthiest church in Utrecht, bequeathed his collection to the city of Utrecht, his library held around a thousand volumes. Although some volumes have since disappeared, and others were rebound, an estimated 70% of the books were bound with manuscript fragments (maculature), mostly at the front and at the back. It has been argued that most of this maculature – well over a thousand individual pieces – came from manuscripts that had belonged to St Mary’s Church. Indeed, leaves from some codices that used belong to St. Mary’s have already been found in the bindings of van Buchell’s books. This should enable us to reconstruct, to a considerable degree, the important library of St Mary’s Church, of which only about forty manuscripts now remain. The van Buchell collection, part of Utrecht University Library since its foundation in 1636, is one of the most important private libraries in the world in which books bound with maculature have been preserved in such a high number and with such a high degree of interrelationship.

(II) Research. Almost all manuscript fragments are still in their host volumes. In dozens of cases, fragments from the same manuscript have been dispersed over several host volumes. Just as frequently, several host volumes contain fragments of different manuscripts. In order to make this complex collection available for research, it would be necessary to list all the fragments found in the host volumes or preserved separately. Only in this way could the totality of fragments and recycled manuscripts (and in some cases incunabula, old printed books, charters and letters) be made accessible for further research. Therefore, around a thousand volumes will be checked, and information about them will be entered into a spreadsheet; at the same time, every fragment will be given an identifier, linked to an image of the fragment. When all the host volumes and loose fragments have been checked and described in a basic way, such an inventory would make it possible to group fragments together, thus providing an overview of all fragments and the individual manuscripts that were reused to serve as binding material. On the basis of such results, a certain number of fragments can be subjected to a more detailed analysis, and be uploaded and described in the Fragmentarium database.

(III) Broadening the view. This research – carried out under the guidance of Dr. Bart Jaski (Utrecht University Library) – is meant to be embedded in the international Sammelband 15-16 project, led by Prof. Malcolm Walsby (ENSSIB, Lyon) and Dr. Katell Lavéant (Utrecht University). This project proposes to investigate the van Buchell collection, which has an extraordinarily high proportion of Sammelbände or convolutes. The data about the fragments and data which the Sammelband 15-16 wants to collect (bindings, composition, etc.) complement each other, and can be used to support their mutual analyses as well as laying the foundations of future cooperation. This will also underscore the importance of fragment research for other (book-)historical subjects and rightfully take it outside the manuscript world to which it is often restricted.

Dr. Vito Santoliquido (Ph.D., 2019, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice / Universität Zürich) is a specialist in Italian and Romance Philology; in addition to fragments, his research include the study of Marco Polo's Devisement dou monde, in particular its textual features and its Latin ramifications.