Ann Arbor: The Legacy Press, 2021,
First Edition. large octavo, cloth in dust jacket. 661 pp. The Legacy Press, Item #30990
Tradition and Individuality came about as the result of an irresistible invitation: to examine and describe the bindings on 100 Greek manuscripts in the University of Michigan Library’s rare-book collection, which date from the fourth to the nineteenth century. This book is intended as a companion to the two-volume catalogue of the U-M Greek manuscripts written by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann, both volumes to be published by the University of Michigan Press. 731 illustrations.
The project was both a challenge and a joy; the bindings more than live up to the title of this book – full of tradition, mystery, and individuality – and it has been a pleasure to observe and define each one. Most of the bindings are firmly traditionally Greek, but there are also numerous hybrid Greek-style bindings and several surprising anomalies, including Mich. Ms. 76 with bridled leather boards and Mich. Ms. 96, which is bound in traditional Armenian style.
Each binding description is accompanied by documentary color photographs of the major components – covers, spines, edges, endbands, etc. – as well as details, most taken by U-M digital photographer Randal Stegmeyer. Pablo Alvarez, U-M Library’s curator of manuscripts and early printed works, has contributed a fascinating introduction covering the history of the acquisition of the Greek manuscript collection. Kyle Clark, U-M Library conservation technician, has contributed an outstanding appendix wherein he details his study of one of the Greek manuscripts, Mich. Ms. 79, and the model he created based on his examination of the original. His text is accompanied by x-radiographs of the original cover, photographs, and line drawings.