Puzzle Me This

Curated by Julia Miller, Guest Curator


The motivation for this exhibit of early binding fragments in the University of Michigan Papyrology Collection was the completion of a long-held wish on my part. The wish was to determine what might be found in the way of binding fragments in a fascinatingly diverse collection of materials with which I was once associated as a conservator at the University of Michigan many years ago and occasionally since as a researcher. That wish is now being realized due to the near-completion of the rehousing project for the papyri, begun in 1987, which has reached the point where all of the hidden enclosures of the past have revealed their contents. A number of binding fragments have now come to light, and almost none of them have been described for the scholarly community.

On your right is an original watercolor painted by artist Mary Heebner in 2014, drawing inspiration from photographs of two fragments from the University of Michigan Papyrology Collection of what may have once been a book cover, P. Mich. Inv. 4088. 

Puzzle Me This: Early binding fragments from the Papyrology Collection

The purpose of this exhibit is to show these fragments, describe them, and challenge the viewer to study the fragments..

A School Exercise & Biblical Texts

P. Mich. Inv. 926, folio 4v, 5r 
A school exercise book written in the Coptic dialect of Bohairic. The source of..

A Text on Medicine & Magic

P. Mich. Inv. 593; recto (pages 9-10)
The inventory number 593 includes a group of papyrus leaves and fragments, ten leaves..

Homer & The Old Testament

P. Mich. Inv. 2720 (6v and 7r)
Here on your right is a codex with fragments of six surviving sheets. None..

Decorated Leather Cover Fragments

P. Mich. Inv. 4972a 
A partial cover with a later spine repair. The cover measures approximately 18.5 cm high by 15..

Cartonnage & Decorated Leather Cover Fragments

P. Mich. Inv. 542 (verso)
A piece of cartonnage that once formed a book board for a codex; when intact the..

A Board Fragment with Structural Elements

P. Mich. Inv. 7077
A partial book board with most of the leather cover missing but with much of the coarse..

More Text Evidence of Binding

P. Mich. Inv. 1289b (verso & recto)
There are nine sizable fragments of leaves of papyri and some smaller fragments included..

A Leather Cover Fragment

P. Mich. Inv. 1289; fragment of leather (recto)
The fragment of leather is large, measuring 22.0 cm high by 21.0 cm..

1. Leather Model of Wrapper-Style Binding

Model of P. Mich. Inv. 1289
A model of what this cover fragment may have looked like when it was intact:..

2. Leather Model of Wrapper-Style Binding

Model of Codex II of the Nag Hammadi Codices
A model of another and very famous codex with a wrapper-style binding..

A Puzzle in Leather & Cartonnage Fragments

P. Mich. Inv. 4088 (recto)
These two fragments composed of layers of leather, cloth, and papyrus are clearly related to one..

Cartonnage from a Book Board

P. Mich. Inv. 612 [a] (recto)
Clump of thick and fibrous cartonnage; at its thickest edge the board measures 3 mm...

A Notebook of Psalms

P. Mich Inv. 4286 (recto)
This small notebook contains part of Psalms 1:10–11 written in Coptic in a crude hand and..

A Magical Notebook

P. Mich. Inv. 6632
At present, there is no description of 6632 in the APIS database. It is a small notebook..

Puzzles & Treasures from Cartonnage

P. Mich. Inv. 557a
Painted parchment fragment from a group of cartonnage fragments assigned to 557. It is not unusual for..

About this Exhibit: Julia Miller

Julia Miller has worked in the field of book conservation for more than thirty years. She began her binding training..