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Guide to
Historic
European &
American
Bookbindings
Tate Archives & Special Collections
Ames Library
Illinois Wesleyan Univ...
Guide to Historic
European & American Bookbindings
• Books are valued for many reasons,
including their content, printing,...
Guide to Historic
European & American Bookbindings
• This guide will provide an overview of the following:
 Proper care a...
Proper Care & Handling
of Historic Books
• When visiting Tate Archives and Special Collections,
there are several rules to...
Proper Care & Handling
of Historic Books
• Additional recommendations for visitors:
 Books will be brought to you, but if...
Key Terminology for Book Parts
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parts-of-a-Book.jpg
Early History of
Paper & Books
 3200 BCE: Cuneiform writing is used on clay tablets
in ancient Mesopotamia.
 3000 BCE: I...
Illuminated manuscript leaf on vellum, 1220 CE.
Bible, ND2930.M43
Illuminated manuscript leaf on vellum, 1400 CE.
Book of ...
Bookbinding in the Middle
Ages
 Parchment can be quite thick. It also tends to warp.
 Books had to have wood boards (cov...
Above: detail of illuminated letter “N”.
Top right: detail of cover decoration.
Bottom right: two facing pages.
Prima pars...
Fifteenth Century
 The 15th century witnessed several major developments:
 Johannes Gutenberg developed a moveable, meta...
1482 Book Details
Detail of blind-tooled stamps: rose, fluer-de-lis, acorns,
crowned eagle, dragon/griffin, and flora.
The...
Sixteenth Century
 Unlike today, bookbinding was completed separately from printing/publishing. Printers sent
their texts...
Sixteenth Century
 In addition to individual tool stamps, there were also stamps made on rolls. Bookbinders could
quickly...
Sixteenth Century
Detail of rolled panel decoration on bottom cover in grayscale
with higher contrast. The stamp portrays ...
Seventeenth Century
 Bookbinders sought ways to save time and money over the centuries to meet the increased demand
for a...
Seventeenth Century
 Decorative papers were used as cover bindings since the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Often
pa...
Seventeenth Century
 Gold tooling was introduced to Europe from the Islamic cultures of the Middle East and southern
Medi...
Seventeenth Century
 Text edges were often trimmed and were a prime space for decorative treatments. Gilt edges
were popu...
Eighteenth Century
 This 1774 book features a blind-tooled and brightly painted
leather cover (over wood boards), gilt an...
Eighteenth Century
 Gold-tooled decoration, especially on the spines, continued to be popular and become more
refined int...
Eighteenth Century
 This 1785 book was printed in France. The binding is a red,
straight-grained leather with ornate gold...
Eighteenth Century
 This 1785 book printed in London features a blue/green straight-
grained leather cover and simple gol...
Eighteenth Century
 Decorative papers continued to be used for cover bindings into the 19th and 20th centuries. In
additi...
Nineteenth Century
 Bookbinding styles popular in the 18th century continued into the early
19th century. These two examp...
Nineteenth Century
 Additional examples of nineteenth-century fine bookbinding decoration include continued use of vellum...
Nineteenth Century
 Although fine bookbinding continued, it decreased in the
face of major developments in the book print...
Nineteenth Century
Left: 1856, Boston. Middle: 1870, New York. Right: 1872, Boston.
Cousin Lottie’s…, PS655.V47 1856 Sketc...
Nineteenth Century
Left: 1880, Boston. Middle: 1888, Chicago. Right: 1893, Chicago.
Two young…, PS2129.J78 T85 1880 A shar...
Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth
Centuries
 Beginning in the 1880s, there was a movement within the decorative and fine ...
Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth
Centuries
1895 paper-bound book printed and sold by William Morris and his Kelmscott Pre...
Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth
Centuries
1907 leather-bound book printed and sold by Elbert
Hubbard at his Roycrofters ...
Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth
Centuries
1912 black leather-bound,
embossed book printed and sold
by Elbert Hubbard at ...
Early Twentieth Century
Left: 1904, Cambridge. Middle: 1906, New York. Right: 1911, Boston.
Candle-lightin’…, PS1556.C2 19...
Early Twentieth Century
Left: ca. 1920s, Chicago, cloth/paper Middle: 1924, Berlin, leather/paper. Right: 1925, Chicago, p...
References
 Bearman, F. A. (1992). Fine and historic bookbindings from the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Washington, D.C.: ...
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Guide to historic european and american bookbindings at Illinois Wesleyan University

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Created in July 2019 by Cynthia O'Neill as part of her grad school internship work at Tate Archives & Special Collections, the Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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Guide to historic european and american bookbindings at Illinois Wesleyan University

  1. 1. Guide to Historic European & American Bookbindings Tate Archives & Special Collections Ames Library Illinois Wesleyan University Cynthia O’Neill, Intern Summer 2019
  2. 2. Guide to Historic European & American Bookbindings • Books are valued for many reasons, including their content, printing, illustrations, and binding. Readers gain their first impression of a book through it’s binding. Using a variety of techniques over the centuries, bookbinders strive to both protect the text and impress readers and collectors. • The Book Arts Collection held at Tate Archives and Special Collections consists of volumes selected as examples of the art of bookbinding, illustrating, and printing history from the 12th century to the present. In addition, Special Collections contains hundreds of additional notable books. All of these books are on the fourth floor. Although the books are not available for checkout, they may be reviewed in the Archives Reading Room upon request. Sacratissimi principis…, KJA1132.2 1482 L’imitation de Jesus-Christ…, BV4823.A1 1785
  3. 3. Guide to Historic European & American Bookbindings • This guide will provide an overview of the following:  Proper care and handling of historic books  Key terminology of book parts  Overview of different bookbinding characteristics, 15th through early 20th centuries  Key reference sources • Stylistic trends in bookbinding can extend across several centuries. Books were often bound or rebound later than the printing date of the text, which can make precise dating difficult. In addition, binders rarely identified themselves on their work. This guide will only note general highlights of stylistic trends with corresponding items from the collections. • All collection images are from the holdings of Special Collections in the Tate Archives and Special Collections department at Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University. The Blue Flower, PS3117.B65s 1906
  4. 4. Proper Care & Handling of Historic Books • When visiting Tate Archives and Special Collections, there are several rules to follow in order to ensure the collection items will be available for future generations.  No food or drink is allowed in the Tate Archives and Special Collections.  Use only pencils or laptops for note taking. Ink pens are not permitted. • It is also recommended that visitors:  Wash hands prior to examining items. Trace oils and dirt can cause damage to surfaces.  Remove any dangling scarves or jewelry. This will prevent anything from catching on book pages.  Do not wear gloves. The tactile sensitivity of fingers help readers judge material fragility and encourages more caution when turning pages.
  5. 5. Proper Care & Handling of Historic Books • Additional recommendations for visitors:  Books will be brought to you, but if you ever take one from a shelf (this applies to all library books by the way!), do not pull the book from the top of the spine. Instead, grasp the book at the middle of the spine and gently pull it towards you. If the books are crowded on the shelf, gently space out the books slightly on the shelf first.  Be sure to carry only a few books at a time – horizontally – while fully supporting the top and bottom books with your arms and hands.  Observe the book prior to opening it. Check to see if the cover is loose. Use styrofoam-type wedges to support one or both sides of the covers as you cautiously open it (especially if the book is heavy or fragile).  If the spine is tight and resists opening very far, do not force it. Support the spine and covers with wedges or your hands and examine the pages gently.
  6. 6. Key Terminology for Book Parts https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parts-of-a-Book.jpg
  7. 7. Early History of Paper & Books  3200 BCE: Cuneiform writing is used on clay tablets in ancient Mesopotamia.  3000 BCE: In Egypt, strips of papyrus are used to make a writing surface which can be rolled into scrolls.  1500 BCE: Bamboo is used as a writing surface in China.  200 – 100 BCE: Parchment is used in the Mediterranean as a writing surface. Parchment is an animal skin which is worked until it’s a smooth, flexible, and double-sided writing surface.  150 BCE – 450 CE: A shift takes place from scrolls to codices. A codex is a book constructed of sheets of writing that are stacked and bound by fixing one edge to a spine and covered with a protective secondary material.  100 BCE – 105 CE: Paper invented and refined in China.  400 – 1400s CE: Illuminated manuscripts are created by scribes during the Middle Ages. They are created on both parchment and vellum. Vellum is a finer quality of parchment made from calf skin.Illuminated manuscript leaf on vellum, 1275 CE. Psalter, ND2930.M43
  8. 8. Illuminated manuscript leaf on vellum, 1220 CE. Bible, ND2930.M43 Illuminated manuscript leaf on vellum, 1400 CE. Book of Hours, ND2930.M43
  9. 9. Bookbinding in the Middle Ages  Parchment can be quite thick. It also tends to warp.  Books had to have wood boards (covers) to keep the parchment flat.  Metal clasps were fixed to the boards to keep the pages pressed together.  The book pictured to the left is undated, but it exhibits many features of early books: heavy wood boards covered in leather and handwritten, thick parchment pages. This large music book was used for Catholic church choirs. The book dates to the late 15th or early 16th centuries. Based on its music notational style, it is believed to be of Spanish origin (Vendt 2003).  The leather binding features blind-tooled (impressed) decorations, including fleur-de-lis and sun stamps around a diamond line pattern. These types of decorations were created by pressing heated tools into damp leather. There are also metal bosses (protruding knobs) on both the upper and lower covers. The book includes a single illuminated image, which is pictured on the next slide. Prima pars dominicalis…, M2153.2.C38 1500z
  10. 10. Above: detail of illuminated letter “N”. Top right: detail of cover decoration. Bottom right: two facing pages. Prima pars dominicalis…, M2153.2.C38 1500z Book Details
  11. 11. Fifteenth Century  The 15th century witnessed several major developments:  Johannes Gutenberg developed a moveable, metal-type printing press in Germany circa 1450, which provided faster and cheaper text production. Over the next several decades, such printing presses were established across Europe.  Cotton or linen rag paper replaced parchment as the preferred writing surface. It was also easier to use with the printing presses.  Sheets of waste papers are pressed together to form pasteboards, which replaced wood boards for book covers. As rag paper is lighter and stays flat easier, heavy wood boards were no longer necessary.  These developments increased the number of books available to the public. The Renaissance period also saw a corresponding increase in literacy and education.  The use of blind-tooled leather covers over wood boards and vellum pages continued through the 1400s and beyond, especially with religious texts and in certain geographical areas such as Germany. 1482 book with a blind-tooled leather cover over wood boards. The text (printed by Anton Koberger of Nuremberg, Germany) is made of rag paper. Sacratissimi principis…, KJA1132.2 1482
  12. 12. 1482 Book Details Detail of blind-tooled stamps: rose, fluer-de-lis, acorns, crowned eagle, dragon/griffin, and flora. The endbands (for both structural reinforcement and decoration) are made of braided, tawed skin. Detail of colophon (statement at end of book with information about its printing). Sacratissimi principis…, KJA1132.2 1482
  13. 13. Sixteenth Century  Unlike today, bookbinding was completed separately from printing/publishing. Printers sent their texts to booksellers, who then placed the texts in simple, temporary vellum or paper covers. It was intended that the purchaser would take the book to a bookbinder and have it bound to their own tastes. This did not always happen, and there are many examples of simple vellum covers on 16th – 18th century texts in the collections. 1517 book with a plain vellum cover (over pasteboard). The text (printed by Aldine Press) is made of rag paper. Scenecae [sic] Tragoediae, PA66.A2 1517 1590 book with a limp vellum cover (over paper). There is hand stitching along the right edge. Thomae Corraeae De elegia…, PN1389.C67 1590
  14. 14. Sixteenth Century  In addition to individual tool stamps, there were also stamps made on rolls. Bookbinders could quickly impress a repeated band of images using a roll tool. 1531 book with a blind-tooled leather cover (over pasteboard) featuring use of a roll tool. The text block is made of rag paper and printed by Jehan Petit, a printer, publisher, and bookseller in Paris. Decretu[m] Gratiani…, KBR1362.2 1531 Detail of rolled panel decoration. Title page with Petit’s printer’s mark.
  15. 15. Sixteenth Century Detail of rolled panel decoration on bottom cover in grayscale with higher contrast. The stamp portrays religious figures. Title page with Mylij’s printer’s mark. • A heavily decorated 1592 book with a blind-tooled, tawed pigskin cover (over wood boards) featuring use of a roll tool and decorative metal clasps. The spine is rounded with three raised bands (which cover the primary sewing supports). The text block is printed by Arnoldi Mylij of Cologne, Germany. R. P. Fr. Lodoici Granatensis…, BX2350.65.L68 1592
  16. 16. Seventeenth Century  Bookbinders sought ways to save time and money over the centuries to meet the increased demand for affordable books. One method in the 16th and 17th centuries was to use discarded waste paper for book covers, spine linings, or endpapers (the first sheets with one side pasted down onto the cover). 1680 book with a discarded vellum manuscript for a book cover (over thin pasteboard). Epitome historiarum…, D18.T67 1680 A late 14th or early 15th century book with a discarded parchment manuscript for a pastedown. Prima pars dominicalis…, M2153.2.C38 1500z. 1580 book with discarded paper for a spine lining. Anitii Manlii Severini…, B659.D48 1580 1630 book with a printed paper for a pastedown. Maximi Tyrii philosophi…, B588.A4 L3 1630
  17. 17. Seventeenth Century  Decorative papers were used as cover bindings since the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Often paper was used in combination with leather or vellum in a half or quarter-binding style. 1616 book with a half binding of vellum (covering spine and corners) and paper decorated in a marble pattern. Also features gold tooling on spine and blue sprinkled text edges. Rime, et prose…, PQ4630.M158 A15 1616
  18. 18. Seventeenth Century  Gold tooling was introduced to Europe from the Islamic cultures of the Middle East and southern Mediterranean. This technique flourished in Italy and Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries and quickly spread throughout Europe and became the preferred decorative technique. 1617 vellum-bound book with a gold-tooled center design. The cover folds over the fore edge of the text (yapp edge). Vellum was sometimes used for fine bindings as well as temporary bindings. The text was printed by Andr. Clouquium of the Netherlands. Hugonis Grotij Poemata..., PN6110.A2 G76 1617
  19. 19. Seventeenth Century  Text edges were often trimmed and were a prime space for decorative treatments. Gilt edges were popular from the 16th century on. Guaffered edges (cutting in decorative lines along the edge) were also popular. Another treatment was gold-tooled designs on the edges of the cover. 1667 miniature leather-bound book with blind tooling. Despite the plain cover, the text block edges are gilt and guaffered. Certamen spirituale…., BX2349.S369 1667 1686 leather-bound book with blind-tooled cover. The cover edges feature gold tooling. C. Plinii Caecilii…, PA6638.A2 1686
  20. 20. Eighteenth Century  This 1774 book features a blind-tooled and brightly painted leather cover (over wood boards), gilt and guaffered edges, and decorative, printed paper pastedown. The endpapers feature the Hartly family genealogy. The text is a German song book printed in Marburg, Germany. German-bound religious books often featured wood boards and metal clasps into the 19th century. Vollständiges marburger…, BV410.V65 1774
  21. 21. Eighteenth Century  Gold-tooled decoration, especially on the spines, continued to be popular and become more refined into the 18th century. There was also an increased use of decorative paper for endpapers. 1771 leather-bound book with simple gold-tooled cover and heavily decorated gold-tooled spine and cover edges. The marbled-style paper endpaper decoration was very popular in the 18th century. This text was printed in London. Fables for the female…, PR3605.M3 F33 1771
  22. 22. Eighteenth Century  This 1785 book was printed in France. The binding is a red, straight-grained leather with ornate gold tooling on the cover, spine, and cover edges. The text edges are gilt, and the endpapers are marbled paper. L’imitation de Jesus-Christ…, BV4823.A1 1785
  23. 23. Eighteenth Century  This 1785 book printed in London features a blue/green straight- grained leather cover and simple gold tooling on cover, spine, and cover edges. The spine also has a repeated gold, winged-cherub image. The highlight of the book is a fore-edge painting of Westminster Abbey, which is only visible when the fore edge is fanned out. The whole book of Psalms, BX5145.S74 1787
  24. 24. Eighteenth Century  Decorative papers continued to be used for cover bindings into the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to marbled paper, paste-decorated papers were also popular. 1782 book with a quarter binding of leather (spine only) and paste paper. Also features gold tooling on spine. Nouveau voyage…, E163.R65 1782 1790 book with a half binding of leather and paste paper. The text block edges are stained red. Briefe aus Paris…, DC146.C22 1790 1773 book with a plain publisher’s paper binding. A new introduction…maps, GA103.H37 1773
  25. 25. Nineteenth Century  Bookbinding styles popular in the 18th century continued into the early 19th century. These two examples show the use of matching marbling decoration on multiple components. 1807 book printed in Philadelphia with matching marbling on text edge and endpapers. The Columbiad…, E120.B255 1807 1847 book printed in Boston with matching marbling on cover and endpapers. The estray…, PR1175.L55 1847
  26. 26. Nineteenth Century  Additional examples of nineteenth-century fine bookbinding decoration include continued use of vellum, gold tooling, and a leather preparation technique known as tree calf. This design is created by dripping an acidic compound from the bottom to the top edges. The acid flow creates the image of a tree. This technique was developed about 1775. 1808 book printed in London with gold-tooled vellum covers, marbled endpapers, spattered edges, and a binder’s label: “Smith, 49 Long Acre.” The dramatic and poetical works…, PR3333.B7 1808 1880 book printed in Boston with tree calf leather on cover and gold- tooled decoration. A dream…, PR5555.D8 1880
  27. 27. Nineteenth Century  Although fine bookbinding continued, it decreased in the face of major developments in the book printing and binding industry during the early-to-mid nineteenth century.  Widespread use of machine-made, wood-pulp paper (cheaper, but more acidic)  Mechanical bookbinding processes  Starched cloth bindings  Creation of permanent bindings by publishers at the time of printing (also known as publisher’s bindings).  All of these developments succeeded in increasing production and decreasing cost for the growing reading public.  Styles of cloth publisher’s bindings changed quickly in response to changing tastes in order to increase sales. 1840 cloth-bound book with an embossed black cover. The publisher paid Edgar Allen Poe $50 to lend his name to the book. Poe also edited the book and added new content. A conchologist’s first book…, QL405.P75 1840
  28. 28. Nineteenth Century Left: 1856, Boston. Middle: 1870, New York. Right: 1872, Boston. Cousin Lottie’s…, PS655.V47 1856 Sketches…, QE35.W729 1870 The turning wheel, PS1356.C574 T875 1872 • Three books with publisher’s cloth covers.
  29. 29. Nineteenth Century Left: 1880, Boston. Middle: 1888, Chicago. Right: 1893, Chicago. Two young…, PS2129.J78 T85 1880 A sharp…, PS1679.F12 S3 1888 Shepp’s…, T500.C1 S54 1893 • Three books with publisher’s cloth covers. Cover design became more representative of the book’s content during the nineteenth century.
  30. 30. Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth Centuries  Beginning in the 1880s, there was a movement within the decorative and fine arts fields against industrialism and excessive Victorian ornament. Designers embraced traditional craftsmanship and created simple forms influenced by medieval and romantic styles. Named the Arts and Crafts movement, it was influential through the 1920s. Key designers represented in Tate Special Collection who also operated printing presses were William Morris and Elbert Hubbard. 1893 paper-bound book printed and sold by William Morris and his Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, England. Gothic architecture…, NA440.M86 1893
  31. 31. Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth Centuries 1895 paper-bound book printed and sold by William Morris and his Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, England. Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, PR5079.C5 1895
  32. 32. Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth Centuries 1907 leather-bound book printed and sold by Elbert Hubbard at his Roycrofters press, East Aurora, New York. White hyacinths, PS2042.W46 1907
  33. 33. Late Nineteenth & Early Twentieth Centuries 1912 black leather-bound, embossed book printed and sold by Elbert Hubbard at his Roycrofters press, East Aurora, New York. Hubbard was born in Bloomington, IL, in 1856 and grew up in nearby Hudson. He and his wife died aboard the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine in 1915. Hollyhocks and Goldenglow, PS2042.H6 1912
  34. 34. Early Twentieth Century Left: 1904, Cambridge. Middle: 1906, New York. Right: 1911, Boston. Candle-lightin’…, PS1556.C2 1904 The Blue…, PS3117.B65s 1906 The British Museum…, AM101.B87 S6 1911 • Additional early twentieth century cloth books with publisher’s cloth covers.
  35. 35. Early Twentieth Century Left: ca. 1920s, Chicago, cloth/paper Middle: 1924, Berlin, leather/paper. Right: 1925, Chicago, paper. Ishmael, PS2892.I84 Der babylonische…, BM499.5.G4 F76 Mother, PS3513.U45 M6 1925 • Additional early twentieth century books with cloth, leather, and paper covers.
  36. 36. References  Bearman, F. A. (1992). Fine and historic bookbindings from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library.  Cambras, J. (2004). The complete book of bookbinding. New York: Lark Books.  Greenfield, J. (1998). ABC of bookbinding. New York, NY: The Lyons Press.  Michigan State University Libraries’ Conservation and Preservation. (n.d.). History of binding: Online exhibit. Retrieved from https://lib.msu.edu/exhibits/historyofbinding/index/  Miller, J. (2010). Books will speak plain: A handbook for identifying and describing historical bindings. Ann Arbor, MI: The Legacy Press.  Princeton University Library’s Special Collections. (n.d.). Hand bookbindings: Plain and simple to grand and glorious. Retrieved from http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/hb/index.html  University of Pittsburgh Library’s Special Collections. (n.d.). History of books and printing @ PITT Special Collections. Retrieved from https://pitt.libguides.com/historybooksprinting/home  University of Rochester’s Rivers Campus Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections. (n.d.).Beauty for commerce: Publisher’s bindings, 1830 – 1910. Retrieved from https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/3343  University of Washington’s University Libraries’ Digital Collections. (n.d.). Decorated and decorative paper collection. Retrieved from https://content.lib.washington.edu/dpweb/index.html  Vendt, D. “Medieval and Renaissance music history.” Ms. on file, Tate Archives & Special Collections, The Ames Library, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois.

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