Summary of the Sammelband 15-16 winter workshop (Lyon, 26 November 2021)

The winter workshop of the Sammelband 15-16 network was organised by Malcolm Walsby and the Gabriel Naudé Research Centre in Lyon on 26 November 2021, at ENSSIB, after a visit of the collections and library of the Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication on 25 November 2021. During this workshop, researchers, librarians and bookbinders discussed several aspects of Sammelbände from the fifteenth to the early seventeenth century.

During the first three sessions of the day, two aspects in particular emerged from the various cases and contexts discussed by the presenters. The first one was the question of how collection of titles within a volume were constituted: how were the volumes made, for whom and for which use(s)?

Making and using Sammelbände

Iain Fenlon (King’s College, Cambridge) presented the case of music books in the early modern era. It is striking that these types of prints have a very high level of loss. This was notably true when the books were used as single-voice items, to sing, and later discarded when they were too damaged to be used any longer. By contrast, the Sammelbände having survived are collections constituted by collectors, either early modern ones such as Georg Knoff in Dantzig in the late sixteenth century, who gathered his own library of music books, or by nineteenth-century bibliophiles and libraries who constituted new volumes by rebinding together separate voices of a same piece.

Sixteenth-century Alto partbook from a set of five, printed in Venice.

Helwi Blom (Radboud University, Nijmegen) analysed surviving editions of the production of the sixteenth-century Lyon printer Claude Nourry. She emphasised the importance of the collection of Hernando Colomb: many items of this corpus of short, popular books were only preserved thanks this library. These Sammelbände, now kept at the Columbina Library in Sevilla, were constituted of very thin booklets and gathered together large numbers of items, which meant that such fragile editions, particularly prone to destruction, survived the test of time.

Flavia Bruni (Instituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico, Rome, & University of Venice) studied the manuscript catalogue of the stock of the Venetian printer Francesco di Franceschi and the relation in this catalogue between a title and the number of sheets in which it had been printed. This led her to discover that some titles, which we now consider as separate editions of the works by a same author, in two or more volumes, were listed under a single title. The number of sheets for these volumes was also presented in this catalogue as the sum total of its constituent parts, indicating that they were therefore meant to be sold together. In this case, the study of remaining Sammelbände in their original binding emerging from cross-referencing may help understanding if that was indeed always the case, or if they could also evolve separately. The study of the life of such titles in several volumes underlines their modularity, depending on the needs of the people who bought them and had them bound.

The case presented by Rozanne Versendaal (Utrecht University) showed, by contrast, a highly personal Sammelband, created in the early seventeenth century in the Southern Low Countries for a single owner, someone who wanted to collect topical and satirical works in a personalised volume. A generic title was added on the back of the volume to sum up its content and a manuscript table of content indicates, with specific symbols, the titles throughout the volume. The works had a thematic unity centered on a series of specific events of the Dutch Revolt.

Preserving Sammelbände in public libraries

Another important aspect of the study of Sammelbände that emerged during these sessions was the question of their use and conservation throughout time within institutional libraries.

Usage and its impact on the volumes was made clear by the presentation of Lucie Moruzzis (National Archives, Paris), who studied volumes that had belonged to Hermanus Lathimathius, a teacher at the Sorbonne College in Paris in the early sixteenth century, whose works were donated to the chained library of the College. The material study of these volumes, now kept in Parisian libraries, shows the different layers of time that correspond to the use of the volumes, first in the personal library of Lathmanius, then in the chained library of the Sorbonne, and later in other, non-chained collections. This talk underlined the different values of the volumes in time, from their use and their aesthetic value for their first owners, to their value as patrimonial objects nowadays.

The list of the titles present in the Sorbonne library in the mid fifteenth century (kept at the Mazarine Library).

Tracking volumes in catalogues of libraries was also at the heart of the presentation by Alessia Giachery (National Marciana Library, Venice), who developed the case of a volume being described in several successive printed and manuscript catalogues of the Marciana Library in Venice from the seventeenth till the nineteenth century. This allowed her to follow this sammelband, across the centuries, and its content. Among other titles, it contained an edition of the Maleus Maleficarum from 1496, until the moment it was disbound and its different titles were rebound in separate items.

Suzan Folkerts (Athenaeum Library, Deventer) did a similar work on the manuscript catalogue made in the years 1490-1500 for the Library of the convent Heer Florenshuis of Deventer. This catalogue gives the list of a series of sammelbände containing incunabula that can still be found in the Deventer Library today, because they were transferred to the Athenaeum Library, a university library, that in turn was added to the collections of Deventer Municipal Library. She also pointed interesting cases of mixed Sammelbände intertwining printed and manuscript material.

Revealing bindings

After these sessions, Nicholas Pickwoad (University of the Arts, London) and Malcolm Walsby (ENSSIB – Centre Gabriel Naudé, Villeurbanne) gave a show and tell on sixteenth-century everyday bindings. This type of bindings is less often studied because they are less appealing from an aesthetic point of view, but that are essential to the understanding of the making and use of Sammelbände, and indeed every book produced in this period. The analysis of the binding techniques can be very revealing: identifying local habits allows showing that a book was made and bound in a specific place, or on the contrary travelled between the moment it was printed and the moment it was bound. It is also important to give a specific place to the temporary bindings that were made to protect the text until they would be replaced by permanent bindings, but that were never removed and became the main binding of these volumes. However, Nicholas Pickwoad insisted on the fact that these everyday bindings were not necessarily very cheap. Some examples presented have gilded edges and were carefully worked, which shows that their owners invested money in sturdy bindings made to last, even if they were not decorated.

The workshop was concluded by a lecture by Neil Harris (University of Udine), invited professor at ENSSIB, on a bibliographical mystery, surrounding an edition printed at the end of the sixteenth century in Paris of the Italian poem La Bellamano by Giusto de’ Conti. As this paper demonstrated, the works editorial history proved to be much more complex than what the dates on the title pages seemed to suggest.

The Sammelband 15-16 network plans to meet again at Utrecht University in June 2022…

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