Philip Bliss, Oxford antiquary, was one of the first collectors to recognise the historical and cultural importance of the medieval manuscript fragments. Most of the fragments came from the best known books of the Middle Ages; they survived intact in England until ca. 1520-70 at which time, particularly in Oxford and Cambridge, they were taken to pieces for use by binders as pastedowns, wrappers, fly leaves, and reinforcing strips.

The leaves come from the following works, listed here in chronological order: Carolingian compilation on the Psalms (France), glossarium (Eastern France), diurnal (Germany), Sacramentary (Germany), Beneventan psalter (Southern Italy), Augustinus (Italy), grammar of the Latin language (England), secular antiphoner (Central Italy), Isaiah (England), secular breviary (France), commentary on Aristotle's Physica (England), interpretations of Hebrew names (France), theological work (Italy), Venetian guild inventory (Italy), about the proper conduct of monks (the Netherlands), elegiac verses about nature and the fates (England), and commentary on First Corinthians (England).