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Manuscript and Printed Leaves

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The Manuscript and Printed Leaves Collections contains digitized items from: 

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The word “leaves” in these collections refers to loose, individual pages that were originally part of complete books. Often the product of 19th and 20th century "bookbreakers" (book dealers who dismembered historic texts to sell the component pages individually or in portfolios), these leaves provide insight into the history of manuscript and print book production from across time and geography.

Manuscript leaves are entirely handwritten and hand-produced. Many date from before 1452, when moveable type and the printing process was invented in Europe. Printed leaves are a result of the print process, although the mechanics and techniques of that process vary across time and place. All European printed leaves are therefore dated no earlier than the 1450s.

More about the Manuscript and Printed Leaves Collections:

  • The Gilbert and Ursula Farfel Collection of Incunable and Manuscript Leaves (catalog record)
    • Dr. Gilbert Farfel was a physician and collector of manuscript and early printed leaves
    • Ursula Farfel is an alum of Ohio University (‘56) and is the reason Dr. Farfel donated his Collection to the Mahn Center
    • The Collection contains over 700 leaves from the 8th through 20th centuries
    • Also included are Dr. Farfel’s research notebooks containing copious handwritten notes that correspond to each leaf and document information such as provenance, date, information about the printer, subject, references to bibliographies, etc.
    • Most leaves are European, but many other countries are represented as well, for example, Japan, China, Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia, and Persia
    • There are over 200 manuscript leaves, some illuminated, others illustrated without illumination
    • The bulk of the leaves are incunabula, referring to pages from books published from about 1452 through 1501
    • Topic areas represented include, but are not limited to, religious texts, literary texts, herbals, botanicals, medical, and other scientific works, music, and legal documents
  • Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts, Western Europe, XII-XVI Century (catalog record)
    • Otto F. Ege, a Cleveland-based museum curator and art history professor, began cutting apart medieval manuscripts in the early-to-mid 20th century in order to distribute examples of these Fifty Original Leaves to universities around the country
    • Ohio University owns set no. 5 of a total of 40 produced
    • The Fifty Original Leaves are all illuminated, referring to their colorful and luminous illustrations
    • The Fifty Original Leaves are all hand-lettered on vellum (calf-skin) or parchment (sheepskin) paper
  • Pages from the Past: A Collection of Original Leaves from Rare Books and Manuscripts (catalog record)
    • This set was compiled by The Foliophiles, Inc., a now-defunct New York association of rare book dealers also known as the Society of Foliophiles
    • Many American universities purchased these portfolios as teaching tools in order to illustrate the evolution of manuscript and letterpress printing traditions
    • Pages from the Past contains examples of both manuscript and printed leaves

Future Additions

Future additions to the Manuscripts and Printed Leaves Collections will include an additional set of items from a different Pages from the Past set.

Access at Alden

Special Collections materials can be viewed at the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, on the 5th floor of Alden Library.

Access Online

Browse and search the collection in CONTENTdm.

Collection Contact

Miriam Intrator, Special Collections Librarian for Rare Books, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

Rights Statement

These materials are in the public domain in the United States; they are not subject to any copyright protections.

Public Domain in the United States