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November 20, 2020

Ancient Manuscripts Sewn into 17th Century Purses

Between the seams of a beautiful 17th century silk purse are found bits and pieces of an ancient document. The parchment document thought to be from the 14th or 15th century was cut into pieces and used to reinforce the interior lining of the purse.

According to AtlasObscura

 "Whoever made the bag, likely in Italy in the 17th century, started by deconstructing a volume and snipping the bifolia—the sheets of parchment that were folded to make the pages—into four tapered triangles. They stitched these together around the edges to form a little skeleton to build the rest of the bag around. The fragment is “an integral part of the purse itself,” says Jay Moschella, curator of rare books at the Boston Public Library, who recently acquired the object from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., a London dealer. "

According to expert historians, many early manuscripts were re-purposed, often cut up and used to reinforce newer books. Continue reading this fascinating story at


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