Dirty Digits: [Research] Done Dirt Cheap

Fig. 1. Canon page from a missal (fol. 149v), showing damage where the priest repeatedly kissed it. Missal of the Haarlem Linen Weavers Guild, North Holland (Haarlem?), ca. 1400-10, tempera and gold on vellum, 349 x 270 (265 x 179) mm, 2 columns, 32 lines, littera textualis, Latin. Haarlem, Stadsbibliotheek, Ms. 184 C 2 (Photo: Byvanck archive; artwork in the public domain).

I have a copy of Geek Love that I would need a few extra hands to count its re-reads. Notes and exclamation marks in the margins, dog-eared pages, and a covers that are holding on for dear life. This, in a world of modern mass-publishing is my way of showing my love to a book. In a time when book manufacturing was both costly and time-prohibitive, books were treated as precious items. How can we tell, in a time when biblio-respect was close to that of religious piety, how/which books were loved the most? The University of St. Andrews, Scotland, has a few ideas:

A new technique invented by Dr Kathryn Rudy, lecturer in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews, can measure which pages in mediaeval manuscripts are the dirtiest, and therefore, the most read.

Thanks to Eric White via EX-LIBRIS for the heads up!

And thanks to Klaus Graf for the following external scholarly links!

1. http://www.jhna.org/index.php/past-issues/volume-2-issue-1-2/129-dirty-books via http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/97001250/

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