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Frederick Bearman Memorial Lecture 2019

From: Wednesday 11.12.19
at 6:30pm
To: Wednesday 11.12.19
at 8:45pm

The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD




The Book & Paper Group are delighted to announce the second Frederick Bearman Memorial Lecture, which will be presented by David Plummer.

Event description: 

Surveying Islamic slipcases: a preliminary study

The overall aim of this research was to, first, gain an understanding of the physical characteristics and making of these objects, second, their relationship (or lack thereof) to the manuscript they protect and, third, to ascertain their condition. In 2018 preliminary studies at the University of Leiden Library highlighted that existing hand lists and catalogues for Islamic manuscripts in the Middle Eastern collections would not be of assistance in identifying manuscripts with slipcases: most of them contain cursory entries that are unconcerned with the materiality of the objects and, when they refer to the topic, slipcases are often unmentioned (Witkam, J.J, 1987). 

These challenges, in combination with the lack of in-depth knowledge about the differences in types of materials and structures that would have been used, narrowed this project's focus to refining a database model for Islamic slipcases. 

The following lecture outlines a survey of selected literature, identifies structure and composition to be investigated and excluded from the database, and presents findings from the results of the survey in an account of the methodology. A case study of the Middle Eastern Collections at the University of Leiden Library, John Rylands Library, Berlin State Library, Cambridge University Library, and the Gazi Husrev-beg Library underpins this research. 

About the speaker

David Plummer graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Conservation of Books and Library Materials from West Dean College in 2019, thanks to the support of the Anna Plowden Trust and the Dr Robin Barnard Scholarship. In 2018 he was awarded the Zibby Garnett Fellowship, for a placement in the conservation workshop of the University Library of Leiden. Under the tutelage of Dr Karin Scheper, he worked on the ‘Digitisation Project of Yemeni Manuscripts, a joint project by the Institute for Advanced Study in partnership with the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Minnesota. With the support of the Barbara Whatmore Bursary he returned to Leiden University Libraries in 2019 to work with bindings from Central Asia. He is currently working at the Archdiocese of Malta as a book conservator. He is a conscientious emerging conservator, ostensibly advocating for the preservation of original structures and materials.

About the grant

The Frederick Bearman Research Grant is an annual grant that offers up to £1000 to support new research into the conservation of books, paper and related materials. The grant was set up to remember Fred and his contribution to the conservation profession. The lecture will provide a platform for the recipient of the grant to share their research with the conservation community and provide an opportunity to celebrate Fred’s memory.

To find out more about Fred Bearman and the research grant please visit our website.

Further information

See the Book & Paper Group blog to learn more about the Islamic Slipcases survey project.

The lecture will be followed by a festive drinks reception.

Entry is free but booking is essential and via Eventbrite only. Please visit the Eventbrite page to secure your place.

If you have any queries about this event please contact the Icon Book & Paper Group at with the subject line 'Fred Bearman Memorial Lecture 2019'