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The History of Bindings - 	Wood Carving

Introduction to the Exhibit

The book in the codex form, or the book as we know it today, has been around for nearly 2000 years. But the books we read today look nothing like those early books bound by the Copts and early Christians. This exhibit offers examples of bindings from throughout the ages, beginning with some of the oldest books in the collection, from the 15th century. Each page shows a different era of binding and how the styles have changed through the centuries. Some mention of structure is here and there, but the focus is on the style and the materials used.


Dating a bookbinding can be difficult. Unlike the printing, a binding can be changed, altered, removed and rebound at any point in time. Some of the books in this exhibit do not have their original bindings or have been repaired; these changes have been noted when known. Other bindings may look like an earlier style, but be more modern than they look. Whatever the case, these books will show how the bindings of books have changed over time and offer an appreciation and celebration of the book as physical object.

Author:Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832.

Title:The lay of the last minstrel.

Publisher:Boston : Ticknor and company, 1887.

Call Number:PR 5309 .A1 1887b

A full leather binding with a prime example of the tree calf process (see early 19th century). Gold tooling on cover, spine and squares, with maroon and brown spine labels. The endbands are unusual in that they are a combination of machine made and handsewn. The edges are gilded, the endpapers marbled and there is a ribbon bookmaker attached at the spine.

The lay of the last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott

Author:Morris, William, 1834-1896.

Title:
An address delivered by William Morris at the distribution of prizes to students of the Birmingham Municipal School of Art, on Feb. 21, 1894.

Publisher:[London, Longmans & Co., 1898]

Call Number:PR5080 .A3.

A full leather binding with beautiful and refined gold tooling. The spine has the title and ornaments while the cover is in a diapered pattern. Gold tooling on squares on inside of cover. Handsewn endbands and gilded edges. This book is signed “R.B. 1905” and is prime example of a fine binding. For more examples of fine bindings, see19th and 20th century fine bindings.

An address delivered by William Morris at the distribution of prizes to students of the Birmingham Municipal School of Art

Author:Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886.

Title:
Poems by Emily Dickinson, ed. by two of her friends, T. W. Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd. 2d series.

Publisher:Boston, Roberts brothers, 1892.

Call Number:PS1541 .P62 1892.

A full cloth binding with green spine and white sides. Gold stamped on spine (but very faded) and cover. This refined design is very typical of a publishers cloth biding of the late 19th century. For more publishers cloth bindings, see late 19th century.

Poems by Emily Dickinson

Author:Donaldson, Fred.

Title:The crooked trail.

Publisher:New York : Dorchester Pub. Co., 1983.

Call Number:PS3554.O468 C766 1983.

An adhesive bound paperback book everyone is so familiar with. Paper bound books have been around for centuries, but the modern paperback has its roots in the late 19th century. For more examples of 20th century mass market binding, see 20th century.

The Crooked Trail by Fred Donaldson

Next: 15th century
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