It was not only manuscripts that were cut up and used in bindings for new books in the sixteenth and seventeenth century: printed texts could suffer the same fate. There are about fifty examples of this in the collection of Samuel Harsnett, Archbishop of York (d. 1631), now held in the library of the University of Essex. They include several interesting specimens, for instance:
- an English text printed by Wynkyn de Worde which, as Francesca Galligan has shown, may represent an unnoticed printing of Rycharde cuer de lyon
- two partial copies of a royal proclamation to butchers of 1535, in a binding localisable to London and datable to before 1537
- a mid-seventeenth century advertisement for a school being set up by one Andrew Minet on Lime Street, London
- a folio from Erasmus’s De copia (Basel, 1534) re-used in Cambridge in the late 1570s or early 1580s as a flyleaf in a binding for a copy of the Italian émigré Protestant reformer, Peter Martyr Vermigli – an interesting hint at changing priorities within a half century
For various reasons, these printed pieces are not the focus of the present project to catalogue and put on-line the fragments in the Harsnett collection – but it would be a shame not to make them publicly available in some form. So, the Centre has set up an album on Flickr with some images already uploaded there. This news comes with a request: taking our lead from places like the Harry Ransom Center and initiatives like the Sion College Library Provenance Project, run by Lambeth Palace Library, we want you to invite you to engage with these images and add to our knowledge of them. So, friends in the republic of letters, do let us know if you have information about them we don’t have – and we will make sure you are acknowledged.