Oddities are not unique to binding fragments, but the lack of a larger context and the incidental damage inflicted by the binding process can make them seem particularly mysterious. Here is an example of such an oddity. Mirror writing, where the script is written backwards as if in a mirror, is a practice that shows up now and again in medieval works. The most famous example is that of Da Vinci, who used it from time to time. Even in his case, however, no one seems to be clear on what the point of the exercise was.
Sometimes with fragments there will be bits of ink that have been transferred from the manuscript to some other page or cover; this can resemble mirror writing, but it is usually fairly obvious what has happened in these cases. In the first fragment below, the paint from the coloured initials has stuck to the wooden board serving as a cover. Some paint remains on the original leaf as well, and side-by-side it is clear what happened.
|From the Stainton Parish Library collection,|
York Minster Library, printed in Basel 1563
|York Minster Library, printed in Basel 1558|
All photography by Paul Shields.
The Minster Library - Fragments of the Past: Part 1
The Minster Library - Fragments of the Past: Part 2
The Minster Library - Fragments of the Past: Part 3