“Limp Vellum Binding and its Potential as a Conservation Type Structure for the Rebinding of Early Printed Books – A Break with 19th and 20th Century Rebinding Attitudes and Practices” by Christopher Clarkson. Published July 2005.
Copies of the revised edition of the 1985 publication are still available
For this new edition the text has been reproduced from the RED GULL PRESS edition of 1982, with additional footnotes, and with a new six-page introduction placing this work in context and explaining the work done by others on materials.
The price is £24.00 plus packing & postage.
After the devastating flood of November 1966 in Florence, besides other types of period bookbindings, many hundreds of limp and semi-limp vellum bindings were damaged. The earliest of this binding type were found to have survived better than many other forms of bookbinding structures. Through historical study and practical work the author enquires into the reasons why.
In 1967 Anthony Cains was given the difficult task of running the new workshops at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze & the author was given the opportunity of teaching bookbinding techniques to the binding staff & to many of the volunteers. This book confines itself to the early Italian limp vellum covered book, exploring the finest period of this small utilitarian binding.
These Italian limp vellum bindings protecting the new small printed formats of ca1500–1520, were not the later ‘cased’ binding structures. The simplicity of this binding type is deceptive; it will always stretch the knowledge and skills of the most experienced bookbinder. Because this binding type questions many of the later practices in bookbinding structural history since 1967 the author has considered it as having within it a high standard of training possibilities.
Simplicity of construction using natural materials demands understanding & utilising the variety of qualities within each & how they relate mechanically to other materials used. Such simplicity demands that a particular part of the structure must serve several functions at once. It also highlights the primary sewing & endband workings as critical foundations. As a non-adhesive construction it is a binding type that has no tolerance for error.
The author also highlights the importance of physical testing in the development of this bookbinding structure. As an example of this he describes how they would play football at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze with his various experimental model structures & how this would quickly show up points of weakness. A later test by Barbara Guiffrida, the author’s colleague & translator, was to supply a local infants school with blank books bound in various limp vellum binding styles for the children to use as notebooks, heavy wear indeed.
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