Foot 1998

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Foot, Mirjam. The History of Bookbinding as a Mirror of Society. London: The British Library, 1998.

"What follows seeks to show how bookbindings, in all their variety, reflect the societies in -- and the social classes for -- which they are made, so that the study of bookbinding history is no mean tributary, but part of the mainstream of social history." (1)
"I would like to approach the history of bookbinding a slightly different way, to show how the techniques of binding and decorating books reflect the way books were produced and the way the booktrade developed, and, widening out from there, how the production of the binding links with questions of authorship, publishing, reading and collection; how it relates to the spread of literacy and learning, to education, to religion, to certain professions, but also to economic and political circumstances, and to social attitudes." (2)

earliest decorative bindings are of Coptic origin (3)

engraved wheels (rolls) for decorating borders or whole covers (9)

interlace (12)

designs filling a whole cover with a regular pattern; remain in use until late 19c (16)

inlays/onlays first used during reign of Elizabeth; "Jean de Planche employed it very effectively on presentation bindings for the Queen" (18)

material strips of contrasting color laced through slots, or leather shown through the cut outs (19)

"A very delicate, lace-like pattern of cut-out vellum over pink and blue satin contains the letters and petitions of Lady Arabella Stuart, written while she was imprisoned in the Tower, but transcribed ina blank book of an earlier date." (20)
"External economic, politico-religious, or cultural movements were not the only factors to influence bookbinding design. The purpose that a book would serve, the occasion for which it was produced, its anticipated audience, the use for which it was intended and to a lesser degree its content, could all influence the way in which it was bound and decorated." (53)

Elkanah Settle, self-styled City Poet of London, "tried to obtain a living by writing verses commemorating the births, deaths, and marraiges in the families of the nobly-born or newly wealthy. He had these printed and put into turkey leather embellished with rather crude bold tooling including the coat of arms of a suitable recipient. Sometimes the title-page and fly-leaves were also decorated in gold with impressions of the same tools that were used on the binding. These copies were then offered by the humble author in the hope of a commensurate reward. If spurned, Settle cancelled the leaf that mentioned the particular event and substituted one referring to some new occasion, or carrying the name of a more promising recipient. Another coat of arms on a new piece of leather was pasted over that already tooled on the covers, and Settle would call hopefully at the next great house. On at least one occasion he was only successful at the third attempt." (55)

paper bindings, sometimes decorated with woodblocks (57); no connection to books they cover

"Lavishly embellished covers enclosing the Word of God emphasize the importance of what they contain, and their production can be seen as an act of worship in itself." (60)

metal workers, goldsmiths, jewellers, ivory carvers -- bindings as objects of art, "rather than a mere protection for at ext"; " they were frequently part of the liturgical equipment of the church" (60)

tortoiseshell (61)

"Fine textiles were used to cover books as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The fact that the Cistercians (c.1145-1151), in an attempt at reducing luxury in their surroundings, appear to have forbidden the use of cloth as a covering for their books suggests that the habit might have been widespread in twelfth-century monasteries." (61-2)
"A fourteenth-century Psalter for private use, once belonging to Anne, daughter of Sir Simon Felbrigge, standard bearer to Richard II, herself a nun in the convent of Minoresses at Bruisyard in Suffolk, has embroidered covers, aptly depicting the Annunciation and the Crucifixion." (62)
"It has been suggested to me that the wearing of a book as part of one's apparel indicates a greater intimacy between the ownner and the text, than if it had been merely put on a shelf, suggesting an appropriation or incorporation of the Word of God into the body and soul of the wearer. A more cynical view would interpret the wearing of a jewelled binding as mere vanity." (63)
"Edmond Harrison was a professionale mbroiderer and although some of these covers were worked by amateur needlewomen, such as Anne Cornwallis (b. 1612) who embroidered the covers for a Bible (London, 1599) with Biblical scenes, many were the work of professionals and show standard motifs such as peace and Plenty, Faith and Hope, and various Biblical scenes all very well suited to the contents. Of more general application are the many flower designs we also find on the work of these professional embroiderers (fig. 50). Like the treasure bindings, embroidered covers were not an integral part of the structure of the binding; they were made eparately, to be fitted and sewn over books that had previously been sewn and laced into boards. How common this was in England in the early seventeenth century is indicated by a separate category that appears in 'A generall note of the prises for binding of all sorts of bookes', issued by the bookbinders for the booksellers in 1619, headed 'Bookes in hard bords', offering standard prices by size for Bibles, Testaments, Common prayers and Psalms, sewn and laced into boards but not covered." (64)

tooled velvet

connection "not only between the binding, its structure, the material it was made of, its decoration, and its purpose or intended use, but also between that and its content. The covers of the Sienese tax accounts and those of certain Bibles and prayer-books are a clear reflection of the text they contain. An example where both the text and the book's intended audience linked with its usage can be discerned from the decoration of its binding, is provided by the Freemasons. Quite a few Masonic texts, as well as the Bible, much used during Masonic Lodges, are found in bindings decorated with symbolic tools of specific Masonic significance." (65)

binding for T. J. Wise, "enshrining his faked Reading Sonnets of 1847, most suitably boxed by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, dazled the beholder by displaying a lock of Elizabeth Barreett Browning's hair in the doublre of the upper cover and one of Robert Browning in the Doublure of the lower cover, together with letters authenticating both locks of hair, after which the over-impressed viewer was ready to believe that everything authenticated the Sonnets." (69)