lundi 16 janvier 2012

Pecia system, history and using my blogs in analogous manner :

The pecia system was developed in Italian university cities by the beginning of the thirteenth century and became a regulated procedure at the University of Paris in the second half of the century.[5]

Via wiki from: - note [5] -Rouse, Richard H., and Mary A. Rouse. Manuscripts and Their Makers : Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris, 1200-1500. 2 vols, Illiterati Et Uxorati. Turnhout, Belgium: Harvey Miller, 2000. p.85.

What was it anyway?

A stationer divided his books into pecie. Each pecia was rented out and copied. Then returned and rented out and copied by the next one on the list. And so on till every copier had made a full copy of the book in question. Does this mean that the books were copied faster? Not for each one copying - except insofar as a certain sloppiness may have been subtly encouraged - but their work was more simultaneous, hence more compressed in time in relation to the exemplar. So, whatever work it was could get copied in many copies at once, from just one exemplar.

Say that one work like a Bible book takes twelve hours of work to copy. One copier would need it twelve hours and intersperse it with other hours of rest or prayer and so on. He would take, say:

- Monday: Assignment after hora nona, 15:15, start real work after 30 minutes preparation at 15:45, write on to 18:00 call for Vespers. 2:15 of 12, 9:45 to go. Hold it! He had to take a pause for praying the Rosary during 15 minutes, because he was getting stiff: only 2 of 12, 10 to go.
- Starting Tuesday:
- Vesper, Meal time, Compline, Sleep, Matins, Lectio Divina, Lauds, Prime at 7 - 7:20.
- 3/4 of an hour's work 7:25 to 8:10, prepare for Low Mass. 9:15 to go.
- Low Mass with Communion 8:15 - 8:45, no time for work but for a Rosary before Tierce at 9:00-9:15, High Mass 9:15 - 10.
- Return to work after a graciously permitted snack at 10 to work at 10:10, stays at work to 11:55. 1:45 less, from 9:15, leaves 7:30 to go.
- Sexta hora at 12, lunch at 12:15-13:00. Repose 13:00-14:55.
- 15, hora nona.
- 15:15 there is no need to prepare, so work proceeds directly, 15:15 - 18 = 2:45, but this time two pauses for Rosary, leaves 2:15 effective work. 5:15 to go.
- Starting Wednesday:
- Vesper, Meal time, Compline, Sleep, Matins, Lectio Divina, Lauds, Prime at 7 - 7:20.
- It might have been breakfast if he was not on daily communion. But not on a Wednesday, a fast day. However, that leaves him extra time for spiritual reading up to Low Mass, since work schedual is lower.
- Low Mass (with Communion?) 8:15 - 8:45, no time for work but for a Rosary before Tierce at 9:00-9:15, High Mass 9:15 - 10.
- No snack, directly to work at 10:05. Up to 11:55 leaves 1:50, but counts as a slow version of 1:30, since he is fasting. 3:45 to go.
- 12:00 Sext up to 12:15.
- Back to work 12:20, no lunch yet! 12:20 - 14:55 = 2:35, minus a Rosary Break, 2:20, counts as slow version of 2. 1:45 to go.
- 15:00 - 15:15, Nona Hora.
- 15:20, lighter lunch up to 15:40.
- 15:45 - 18 - finishes book! Triumphant Colophon written on last page! No, not quite.
Only then can book be handed to next scribe, but that cannot happen until after
- Starting Thursday:
- Vesper, Meal time, Compline, Sleep, Matins, Lectio Divina, Lauds, Prime at 7 - 7:20.
- Correction time! I will not calculate that one.
- Only then can colophon be written and only then can the book be handed on to next scribe.


BUT, divide text into pecie of 12, and twelve scribes can be working on it in parallel - twelve copies in same time. And of course, that could not happen till after book production became commercial, right? Of course, by then a man would hire the pecia for a day, make two or three copies, or four if he was quick, next pecia next day, same number of copies:

monday - tuesday, tuesday - wednesday, wednesday - thursday thursday - friday, friday - saturday, saturday - monday (no work on sunday)

... which multiplied by two weeks means that in two weeks twelve men had made 36 copies if they average on 3 copies per day and pecia. And the monks were of course too stupid to do that? That is of course why monks' Bibles cost a fortune and nearly nobody could afford them?

Not quite. Absense of evidence is not evidence of absense. The pecia system started in Italian University cities c. 1200 and came to Paris by 1250. And before 1200? Do we have studies proving the monks did not use a similar system to make cheaper copies? No. Pecie are known to modern academics since: L. Destrez, La Pecia dans les manuscrits universitaires du XIIIe et du XIVe siècle, Paris, J. Vautrain, 1935 But the proofs imply not just this production as such but also the commercial relation between stationer owning exemplar and students serving as book copiers. Each pecia had a pecia mark. The student had a signature, a pecia number was added, with attestation of correction. Just as colophons on whole books, pecia marks on each pecia of a book served to register the fact it had been corrected - but pecia numbers were also a way of tracing copies to copiers - and making sure they had not overcopied for gain. Stationer records "five pecie for p" and if after that an example is found with the sixth pecia or two different with the 3d pecia for p, maybe p was not trusted next time? And that system, which to us proves the actual use of pecie is of course absent from monastic work. For the simple reason that monks do not have individual gain, excepting the possibility to be a little lazy now and then. An individual monk could sell nothing to noone.

So, above scheme for book copying in a monastery might have been varied if there were six or twelve monks in the scriptorium. If each put the pecia copies on his table, pecie might have been exchanged between them - and we cannot know for certain, since only after the pecie are put together do the monks add a colophon to the book.

Of course, we do have one kind of semi-indication that pecie were not used: chapters use Anfangs that start after end of previous chapter, middle of a page. Would not an organisation in pecia stop such a method? Not quite. Say an Anfang was written as starting the word on a line middle of the page, first the letter for the Anfang was written as a small letter, and only later expanded to a large capital letter. And Anfangs fit neatly under last lines of previous writing. Pecie? Yes, there could be nifty ways of getting the pecie to fit into the space allotted precisely by these Anfangs. Vary line numbers for diverse sections, and you vary the place for the next Anfang. A last pecia could start middle of first page with the small letter for adding the Anfang, then be written as a whole until finished, then add previous pecia with last lines going on to the last one, and then writen Anfang on last one. And so on. Even so, the colophon would not be written until all of the pecie were assembled in a book, if written in a monastery.

So, actually, I think varying prices for vellum had more to do with cheapness of cheapest copies available than pecia system being only invented before 1200 in Italy. But I may be wrong. My take is: an old manuscript in a monastery falling apart and monks wanting a better reuse of it than just - sorry to say this - toilet paper. The falling apart of folia or duplos or quartos making up a volume would be a handy way to start new copies being made from it. At the same time, this procedure would, if starting with pecie from oldest manuscript in monastery, have guaranteed copies from as old a text as possible. It would have made sense, even if not the particular kind of commercial sense envisaged by the stationers and the students. That is my only argument so far for saying this happened. Plus one more: stationers and students might be too hurried to invent such a thing themselves without the aid of calmer monks.

Unless, of course, the pecia system was in use among the slaves of a bibliopola under antiquity: in that case it might simply be inherited. Except that papyrus rolls were less easy to divide in pecia, perhaps?

There is another argument against monks having used the pecia system: the high value of known copies, like the book of Kells. So? They were free to vary their procedure as they thought fit, as long as they delivered a product of the desired quality!

So far my historic argument. Now for the proposition I am making. I actually am not just writing my blogs as blogs for free as simple as that, but that too. I am giving them a double function. My authorisation at:
... means that beside the normal function, there is also the function of your online page being offered as pecia for your small scale commercial printing. Printing, not handcopying, unless you realy want to do that for fun. If you are very poor, just take it. If you are a little better off or manage to become so by my offer, do use the account on the link "donativo" for remunerating me. Oh, big publishers are also entitled to the offer, in their case I count on them giving about royalty. Only it would have been complicated to state that as a separate condition. So, I trust, first to God, next to your generosity, honesty and plain sense of fair play and fun.*

That it is technically possible can be seen by my examples.**

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibliothèque Duras, Paris
13 Jan, Octave of Epiphany, 2012

*I am basically repeating this offer:
- I handwrote, so that I could prove I was writing these things. First essay contrasts behaviour of Hitler and Chesterton after being no longer painters. If Hitler was the better painter of them, in a technical sense at least, Chesterton was clearly the better no-longer-a-painter of these.

2 commentaires:

  1. Je viens de vérifier que les reliures ont changé durant le Moyen Age.

    Les livres comme Book of Kells avaient un telle reliure (lourd et coûteux) que le système des pecie n'aurait pas été rationnel. À quoi bon, en effet, tous les cahiers ou plis d'un livre qui manque reliure?

    Vu qu'une simple reliure s'appelle reliure copte, il me paraît possible que les nouvelles reliures datent des époques des croisades.

  2. Oupce, semble que reliure copte était la plus ancienne. Donc celle avec les plats en bois.