Manufacturing of Manuscripts

Initially monks and scribes in monasteries were responsible for all aspects of manuscript manufacturing. As demand grew, the jobs were divided amongst specialists. Workmen arranged the leaves and handled the skin. Scribes wrote the text and studied the art of making ink. Rubricators drew lines to guide the scribes. Ligators bound the books using their signature techniques. Miniatori added their flair to the manuscripts using miniature images. These texts were written on parchment, vellum, or membrane; otherwise known as goat or sheep skin, calf skin, or the skins of stillborn or young animals. Oak or beech boards served as hardcovers while more leather was used to protect this wood. Fun fact: Due to the manual process of smoothing and skinning, one side of the parchment is typically smoother than the other. Meaning, you can likely tell which side had hair on it! 

Tavernier Jean Mielot (1450-1460)

Click through to the next page to see some examples of handwritten books from our collection!