Ohio University

Manuscript and Printed Leaves

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The Manuscript and Printed Leaves Collections contains digitized items from: 

Browse the individual collections by selecting the collection titles above.

These collections are held at the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, on the 5th floor of Alden Library.

The word “leaves” refers to loose, individual pages that were originally part of complete books. Often the product of 19th and 20th century "bookbreakers," or 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: 

  • 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 to the Manuscripts and Printed Leaves Collections will include more than 700 items from the Gilbert and Ursula Farfel Collection of Incunable and Manuscript Leaves and an additional set of items from a different Pages from the Past set.

Collections contactMiriam Intrator, Special Collections Librarian for Rare Books.