Material Evidence

Offset gold

With a lesser manuscript, distinguishing hair side and flesh side of the parchment would be critical for reconstructing conjoint bifolia and even in determining consecutive leaves. The vellum of the Beauvais Missal is so well prepared, however, that distinguishing hair side from flesh side is extremely difficult. Sometimes  it is possible to discern hair follicles along the edges, but in general, the color and texture of hair side and flesh side are nearly indistinguishable. But there is other material evidence of use. The gold used in the Beauvais Missal has left numerous offsets, pale, sometimes barely discernable, mirror images on facing pages. Shown here are two consecutive leaves, one owned by Rhodes College in Tennessee and the other by Christopher de Hamel. The text is consecutive, and at the upper gutter one can discern the original at the right  offset onto the leaf at the left. This trace evidence proves the identity of facing pages whose surfaces were pressed tightly together during the hundreds of years the manuscript was mostly shut and stored.

Material Evidence