The rise of paper

ESR3 & 4 Parchment and paper.

ESR 3 and 4 will examine the thesis that parchment production was impacted by a reduction in costs of paper by 40% in the 15th C coupled with a rise in the cost of parchment. Using state of the art proteomics methods the students will explore the transition between parchment and paper. A number of questions will be explored. (1), Does the demand for writing media result in changes in parchment quality? (2) What factors dictated the use of one medium over the other? What was the differentiation between legal documents, vernacular and religious texts? Can we differentiate uses between low cost (goat/sheep) parchment and high cost (calf) vellum. (3) How does parchment use compare with economic and archaeozoological evidence for use of animal resources.

ESR4: The rise of paper (@ UoY)

Objectives: To examine the development of paper, by examining costs and quality of paper and parchment.

Expected Results: Using electrostatic extract of protein, the student will use printed books and contemporaneous archival documents the project will explore the dynamic interaction of parchment and paper. The ESR will collect historical data on prices of parchment and paper, then compare with the amount, quality and species used to prepare gelatin size in rag paper. It will compare this data with the animal origin of parchment in printed books (was the gelatin size sourced from parchment off cuts). Is there a correlation between the dramatic fall in cost of paper relative to parchment in the 15th and the parchment being used to compete (on colour, material properties). Does the weakness of rag paper at this time enable parchment manufactures to reduce their material quality whilst still remaining competitive? The student will work primarily with materials from the Windskill and Borthwick Archives (Legal Documents ) and Rylands Library (books printed on parchment and paper).

Paralleling a study of the decline in parchment, a literary study will explore evidence for the cost of materials in the 15th and 16th C and will examine the relative use of these two media or administrative, secular and religious texts, written and printed books. There should be a correlation between the perceived importance and longevity of the text and the quality of the medium. What is the documentary evidence for the costs of the different media, and how does the evidence culled from primary and secondary historical sources compare with the direct evidence from the page? ESR4 will be trained to conduct species identification of parchment, and will do so as part of a project in collaboration with Prof. Stephen Milner (Serena Professor of Italian, University of Manchester), Networking. Within TEMPERA, ESR 4 will interact more closely with:

  1. ESR 3: ESR4 will work closely with ESR3 and Gordon Paul at DEVRO (co-supervision), with a 6 month secondment.
  2. ESR4 will spend time in the conservation studio of the Borthwick Institute (University of York)
  3. ESR4 will collaborate with Prof. Stephen Milner (Serena Professor of Italian, University of Manchester; Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy and collections in the Rylands Library.

Planned secondment(s): 2 months Borthwick Archive, 6-8 months at DEVRO for private sector complementarity