Bindings for the London Rare Books School

Wednesday, 27 June: The Library provided about forty books for one of the London Rare Books School classes on bindings. Only one of the bindings in question could be described as fine, and some, chosen specifically to demonstrate sewing structure, were definitely the worse for wear – but it was interesting to hear under Nicholas Pickwoad’s expert tutelage just how valuable ordinary books are for showing binding techniques of different periods in different countries. Among other books taken out was an almanac from 1768, Rider’s British Merlin, sporting a cottage style binding: interesting because this is a Restoration-style binding which, outmoded generally, remained on almanacs one hundred years later. Especially piquant was a copy of Abbot Benedict’s De Vita & Gestis Henrici II, published in Oxford in 1735, bound in what is now rather scuffed calf in Oxford, in a style known as the Cambridge panel. Our copy stands out for its inclusion of the binder’s invoice for two shillings.

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