The Broken Book

From a Book of Hours to a Book of Bits.  This blog post by medievalist Elaine Treharne chronicles the shocking destruction of a Book of Hours.  Sold at auction in 2010, this unique volume has since been split up and sold in pieces, a practice known as book-breaking or biblioclasm.  A practice that goes on today and is facilitated by the ease of selling online.

This is what is at stake when organisations sell off foundation collections or other unique and distinctive treasures.  Alongside the loss of public access and the destruction of the integrity of the collection, the actual books may be broken up and scattered.  Atlases are particularly at risk, as is any work with plates or appealing illustrations which might fetch a good price sold individually.

I’ll have more to say about disposals and book-breaking in future posts …


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