Bookbinders have often used waste material from broken and discarded books to make new ones. During the late fifteenth century numerous manuscripts in monastic libraries were replaced with printed copies, and the discarded parchment became useful material for new bookbindings. Many medieval manuscripts survive only as waste material reused in a subsequent bookbinding. Although today this reused waste is regarded as a valued element of a book, its first appearance represented a step toward economizing: a fresh, clean sheet of parchment or paper was not employed where a leftover scrap would serve just as well. Binding waste can be both visible and hidden. Book covers and endleaves composed of waste can be easily identified as such. Waste used as spine linings and as pasteboard layers becomes apparent only when the book is damaged in a way that exposes what lies underneath the current binding.
Dutch, sixteenth century
The heavy use that liturgical manuscripts received probably meant that they were frequently replaced with new scribal copies. Discarded musical manuscript leaves are common as binding waste on books printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Author: Cicero, Marcus Tullius
Title: M. Tullii Ciceronis Epistolae ad T. Pomponium Atticum.
Published: Antwerp: Christophe Plantin, 1582
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: PA6299 1582
Spine height: 17 cm

German, seventeenth century
Another binding made of waste liturgical manuscript leaves.
Author: Guilandinus, Melchior, 1519 or 1520-1589
Title: Melchioris Guilandini Papyrus.
Published: Amberg, Germany: Johann Schönfeld, 1613
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: 10255.419
Spine height: 16 cm

Swiss, sixteenth century
A fifteenth-century German liturgical manuscript as a covering on a Basel imprint from 1551.
Author: Ptolemy, 2nd cent
Title: Claudij Ptolemaei Pelusiensis Alexandrini Omnia quae extant opera, praeter Geographiam.
Published: Basel: Henrich Petri, 1551.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: Oversize 2752.1551q
Spine height: 32 cm

British, seventeenth century
Printed waste from the press of England's first printer, William Caxton, as endleaves in this English binding of the late seventeenth century.
Author: Bacon, Francis, 1561-1626
Title: The tvvoo [sic] bookes of Francis Bacon, of the proficience and aduancement of learning, diuine and humane.
Published: At London: Printed for Henrie Tomes, 1605.
Location: Rare Books: Robert H. Taylor Collection (RHT)
Call number: 17th-184
Spine height: 19 cm

German, sixteenth century
Several leaves from a French breviary as pastedowns and flyleaves in this early sixteenth-century binding from the lower Rhine region.
Author: John, of Damascus, Saint.
Title: Theologia Damasceni.
Published: Paris: Henri Estienne, 1507.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: 2686.345.507
Spine height: 21 cm

Italian, nineteenth century
Both manuscript and printed waste have been widely used for spine linings over many centuries and in all regions.
Author: Franchini, Giovanni, 1633-1695
Title: Bibliosofia.
Published: Modena: Heirs of Soliani, 1693.
Location: Rare Books (Extran)
Call number: 5467.356
Spine height: 25 cm

Another view of the previous binding.

British, nineteenth century
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford), 1801?-1860
Title: Darnley, or, The field of the cloth of gold.
Published: London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1830.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: PR4821.J4 xD3
Spine height: 19 cm

Italian, sixteenth century
Author: Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris, ca. 1100-1160
Title: Sententiarum libri IV.
Published: Roma: Heirs of Antonio Blado, 1569.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: 6049.707.385.1569
Spine height: 18 cm

Dutch, sixteenth century
Author: Sallust, 86-34 B.C.
Title: Bellum Catilinae & Bellum Iugurthinum.
Published: Antwerp: Johann Gymnich, 1547.
Location: Rare Books: Gryphius Collection(GRY)
Call number: GRY 547.05
Spine height: 17 cm

Another view of the previous binding.

Swiss, sixteenth century
The toughness of parchment has made it a favorite material to reinforce sewing, both of the textblock sections and of the endleaf folds.
Author: Weyer, Johann, 1515-1588
Title: De praestigiis daemonum, et incantationibus, ac veneficiis, libri V.
Published: Basel: Joannes Oporinus, 1563.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: GR535 .W62
Spine height: 18 cm

German, sixteenth century
Author: Melissus, Paulus, 1539-1602
Title: Melissi Schediasmatum reliquiae.
Published: Frankfurt am Main: G. Corvinus, 1575.
Location: Rare Books (Ex)
Call number: PA8552.M2 A6 1575
Spine height: 17 cm