To augment the Brut’s value as a teaching tool and research archive, I saved all the material that was removed from the binding during the conservation process. The surviving cover is housed in a simple folder covered with the same paper as the new boards under the alum-tawed chemise.
The final touch was the storage box—a clamshell, or sometimes referred to as a solendar or drop spine box.
I have a newfound fascination with storage boxes, or “enclosures.” As Deborah and I were working on this essay, I saw a tweet from Erik Kwakkel of a decorated medieval box used to protect loose quires of hymns during processionals; I then went looking for medieval boxes and found a fifteenth-century “purse”-style container; I also learned about medieval manuscripts preserved solely as linings for early modern boxes (Leedham-Green); finally, Deborah introduced me to the work of Jeff Peachy.5 In each of these examples, the box becomes part of the manuscript artifact. The “book in a box” is not only an archival concession but can be a 3D scholarly commentary. Often, there is a poignant slippage between short- and long-term storage that reminds us that archives are never static, even when humans neglect them.
5. See Cod. Sang. 360, Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek; and Manuscript Case, Accession Number: 54. 18, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters; and Peachey.