In this ingenious study, Kathryn Rudy takes the reader on a journey to trace the birth, life and afterlife of a Netherlandish book of hours made in 1500. Image, Knife, and Gluepot painstakingly reconstructs the process by which this manuscript was created and discusses its significance as a text at the forefront of fifteenth-century book production, when the invention of mechanically-produced images led to the creation of new multimedia objects.
Medieval manuscripts resisted obsolescence. Made by highly specialised craftspeople (scribes, illuminators, book binders) with labour-intensive processes using exclusive and sometimes exotic materials (parchment made from dozens or hundreds of skins, inks and paints made from prized minerals, animals and plants), books were expensive and built to last. They usually outlived their owners. Rather than discard them when they were superseded, book owners found ways to update, amend and upcycle books or book parts. Rudy considers ways in which book owners adjusted the contents of their books from the simplest (add a marginal note, sew in a curtain) to the most complex (take the book apart, embellish the components with painted decoration, add more quires of parchment). By making sometimes extreme adjustments, book owners kept their books fashionable and emotionally relevant.