Book Series Bibliologia, vol. 41

Bat Books

A Catalogue of Folded Manuscripts Containing Almanacs or Other Texts

J.P. Gumbert

  • Pages: 240 p.
  • Size:210 x 270 mm
  • Illustrations:69 b/w, 16 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56809-6
  • Paperback
  • Available

The first serious study of a curious and underestimated type of  Medieval book


The catalogue descriptions are exemplary in their clear and expertly-informed treatment of the physical characteristics, contents, and ownership history of each item, as well as the relevant bibliography. The reproductions that accompany each entry are excellent and are an essential element of the catalogue.
Teresa Webber, Trinity College, Cambridge

“I hope that new scholars will draw upon Gumbert’s timely study by further investigating the functions of bat books and the audiences, especially in relation to their impressive textile bindings, a feature that remains to be fully studied.” (Kathyn M. Rudy, in The Library, 20 /1, March 2019, p. 99)


J. P. Gumbert (1936-2016) was emeritus professor of Western Palaeography and Codicology at Leiden University.



This work represents an important contribution to the history of medieval books, providing full scholarly description and discussion of an otherwise very little known category of written artefact in quasi-book form, but one that the 60-odd identified examples suggest was relatively common. This volume will be of interest not only to medieval book-historians and codicologists but also to historians of medieval science and of the liturgy, and of medieval written culture and cultural practice more broadly. Although a large proportion of the volume takes the form of a catalogue, the information and explanatory material presented in the introduction to the catalogue as a whole  and to each of the sections into which the catalogue is divided give the volume the coherence and value of a historical and codicological survey of this form of artefact, the kind of texts they contained, and how and by whom they were made and used. The way in which the catalogue is structured in chronological and thematic sections, each with their own introduction, also contributes to enhance this aspect of the volume.


List of Manuscripts by Chapter

List of Manuscripts by Shelfmark


Abbreviations and Conventions

Works Cited in Abbreviated Form


Chapter I: The Oldest Bat Books

Chapter II:. Continental Calendars

Chapter III: Continental Almanacs

Chapter IV: English Almanacs – Early

Chapter V: English Almanacs – Mid-Century

Chapter VI: English Almanacs – Late

Chapter VII: Late Breviaries

Appendix 1: Fold-out Concertinas

Appendix 2: Oblong Codex, Used Vertically


Colour Plates