BPG Parchment Bookbinding

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Parchment in Bookbinding

Parchment or vellum has long been incorporated into various aspects of bookbinding. Its use as a covering material can be found in styles ranging from in-boards bindings, to a variety of semi-limp, to completely limp pamphlet wraps. There are several benefits to using parchment as a covering material, which have been eloquently described by Pickwoad (2000) and Geraty (2019):

  • Parchment is easy to mold and manipulate when it is damp and soft.
  • It retains its shape when it dries. When dried under pressure or tension, the parchment fibers remain in alignment and stay flat, preventing deformation.
  • It is durable and resistant to wear.

Parchment has been incorporated into bindings as sewing supports, tackets, end band cores, spine linings, pastedowns, guards, etc. Binders also reused parchment documents and manuscript leaves, incorporating them as various binding components. Reasons for recycling were largely economical, as parchment was always expensive, and manuscript waste was suitable as temporary covers (retail bindings) or for ephemera. (Pickwoad 2000, 1)

Parchment as a book component is perhaps best known as the primary writing surface for medieval manuscripts. For information on the treatment of parchment documents, please visit the BPG Parchment page for information about the Identification of Parchment and the History of Manufacture and Use of Parchment. See Treatment Variations for general treatment protocols for parchment as codex leaves or single folio documents.

Parchment as a Covering Material

The origin of the use of parchment as a book covering material likely cannot be assigned to a single place and time. It was used for various binding components throughout the medieval era (Geraty 2019, 9); Pickwoad?). Parchment was also used in European colonies in North America (see Leonard 1942, Ramirez 2013, Cummins 2014).

Parchment bindings can be loosely divided into the categories of "stiff" and "limp". "In reality, however, these structures exist on a continuum, the full breadth of which cannot be addressed adequately by the limp/stiff dichotomy." (Albritton & Amato 2016, 4) There are differences in opinion in how to describe various styles of parchment bindings. Roberts & Etherington (1982), Ligatus, and Albritton and Amato (2016) describe a "limp binding" or "limp covers" as having no underlying board. Although Ligatus disagrees with the use of the term, both Ligatus and Albritton & Amato agree that a semi-limp binding has a thin, flexible board underneath the covering material, and classify stiff-board bindings as having rigid boards that are fully adhered, drummed-on, or loose. Other conservators base the classification on whether or not the covering material is adhered to the board, i.e. if there is no adhesive connection, then it is a limp binding, and if there is an adhesive connection, it is a stiff board binding [citation needed].

Different styles of parchment bindings have been used with varying frequency over time. Parchment as a covering material first appeared in the medieval period but became popular during the 16th century. Some "limp" styles were commonly used by book sellers as "publishers' bindings" after the advent of the European printing press, as the bindings were less expensive and less time-consuming to produce than in-boards bindings but would still protect the text (Pickwoad 1995). However, there are also complex socioeconomic factors that influenced the use and survival of these structures (Pickwoad 1994).

Manuscript Waste

Parchment folios taken from medieval manuscripts were frequently recycled and used as covering material, particularly from the 16th century on. "The enormous growth of the use of secondhand parchment in the bindings of printed books is the result of two complementary phenomena: a great increase in the output of books occasioned by the invention of printing, accelerating rapidly in the last decade of the fifteenth century and continuously from that time; and the availability at the same time of large numbers of medieval manuscripts as waste." (Pickwoad 2000, 1-2)

Paterson (2018, 453) "Not surprisingly, many were done with little regard to how the manuscript appeared on the volume. Frequently there is a haphazard quality about the placement, so the written text of the manuscript may be skewed or even upside down. Bindings in these categories were occasionally made from multiple leaves of vellum pieced together, typically to accommodate larger volumes. Often there was no attempt made to disguise the fact that multiple pieces were used to form the covering."

The dissolution of monasteries during the Protestant Reformation contributed significantly to the availability of manuscripts for bookbinding materials. The contents of some libraries were broken up and sold on an international market. But manuscript waste components were also used in bindings from areas that remained Catholic, pointing to the economic forces driving the choice of this material. Outdated liturgical texts seem to be common victims. (Pickwoad 2000, 2-3)

Manuscript waste binding components that have been removed from bindings sometimes appear in large collections of manuscript fragments. These fragments often bear physical signs of how they were used, i.e. adhesive residues, board fragments, tying cords, end bands, etc. (See Pickwoad 2000 and Sheppard 2000.)

Decoration of Parchment Bindings

Cut parchment or pierced vellum: Parchment coverings that were pierced or cut with intricate patterns appear in sixteenth and seventeenth century continental Europe (Middleton & Nixon 1978, 142; see also Nixon & Ehrman 1956). James Reid-Cunningham has researched this style, taught workshops on their construction, and his website has several images of historical examples.

Gold tooling on a parchment over boards binding, 1470 CE, Netherlands. W.918, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

Gold tooled parchment: Parchment can be tooled with gold, but this was not commonly done. "Parchment's hard surface gives it a slippery feel while tooling, though it is no different from tooling leather with the exception of using a slightly cooler tool when using egg glaire, while for shellac size, it does not matter. it takes surface gold well, so designs can be created using just leaf laid onto it with rabbit-skin glue." (Geraty 2019, 129)

Dyed parchment: Green parchment for covering appears in Europe first in France in 1657, attributed to Pierre Portier, a Paris binder (Pollard 1956, 83). Peter Franck (1964, 11) described batik-dyed parchment bindings, created with the use of mordants and wax or shellac by contemporary bookbinder and teacher Johann Rudel.

Transparent parchment: In England in 1785, transparent parchment or transparent vellum bindings were patented by James Edwards, member of the Edwards of Halifax bookbinding and publishing firm. The vellum was made transparent and then decorated on the underside with opaque paints. The paint side was then adhered to book boards. (Middleton & Nixon 1978, 145)

Early in the 20th century, an English binder named Cedric Chivers revived the technique, modifying it slightly by executing paintings on paper, which were then covered with transparent vellum during binding. He called the material "Vellucent", and the first Vellucent binding was completed in 1903. (Middleton & Nixon 1978, 146) Shortly after, Vellucent was recommended as a repair material for nineteenth century leather bindings that had broken joints or red rot. The Vellucent was meant to be applied over the original binding as a literal protective skin, allowing the decorative tooling to be seen through the material (MacAlister 1905, 208-211).

Storage of Parchment Bindings and Components

As with parchment documents, parchment bindings require controlled storage environments with a relative humidity of about 55% and a temperature of about 65 F. Due to the lime content from its manufacture, parchment will "absorb (take up) and adsorb (chemically bond)" with moisture in its environment (Geraty 2019, 128). When this happens, the membrane "usually warps toward the hair side of the animal and that is generally the side that faces out.… The result may be broken endsections (endpapers) and/or split joints in the cover. The parchment may pull back from the edges of the boards causing the turn-ins of the covers to lift and retract, breaking the pastedowns along the edges of the turn-ins (Geraty 2019, 126)."

(Geraty 2019, 131): " Shelving stiff-board parchment bindings is a good way to help control warping due to climate changes in a storage area. Parchment covers can also be restrained by making a clamshell box with a flap built into the fore edge of the small tray. The flap closes from right to left over the book, and the box cover closes from left to right effectively confining the boards. Boxes also create a microclimate that slows the permeation of moisture into its interior and thus into the book."

Parchment-Bound Book Structures

Stiff Board Parchment Bindings

As discussed above, this can refer to a binding with a stiff board underneath the vellum cover or to a binding where the vellum is adhered to a board, rigid or not.

Historic manuals (cited in Geraty 2019) that describe parchment bindings in English include: Dirck de Bray, 1658; Jean-Vincent Capronnier de Graffencourt, 1763; Rene Martin Dudin, 1772; Christoph Ernst Prediger, 1741-1753; Anselme Faust, 1612.

Geraty (2019, 135) describes challenges to using parchment in stiff board bindings but also potential remedies:

  • changes to the planarity of parchment-covered boards is difficult to mitigate over the life of the book
  • parchment is usually lined with paper before covering. This reduces translucency and "stabilizes" the parchment, making it easier to work with
  • laminating paper was adhered with paste but not allowed to dry completely before covering. residual moisture helped with cutting and working the joints and turn ins.
  • cockling usually results from unrestrained drying

"Full vellum over boards was not a popular style of binding in earlier centuries in England for printed books, and certainly was not used as much here as in Continental countries. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however, vellum was certainly used extensively as a covering for the boards of ledgers. It was used to a limited extent by fine binders at the end of the eighteenth century and during the nineteenth.... Early in the nineteenth century the full-vellum covering of ledgers was done while the vellum was dry." (Middleton & Nixon 1978, 143)

Cowie's Bookbinder's Manual (1828 or 1860) directs the binder to line the parchment with cartridge or strong white paper and dry between boards. "This method must have been used earlier on printed books also, both continental and English, for one usually finds no linings on the inside of the boards other than the pastedown of the endpaper." (Middleton & Nixon 1978, 144)

Stiff-Board Parchment Binding with Slotted Spine

Frequently found on Italian books of the 16th and 17th centuries (??) Pugliese (2001, 93).

Pugliese (2001, 94) describes this variant of the stiff-board binding with a modified parchment cover: "The textblock is sewn on raised supports and the slips are then laced through the boards as for other in boards bindings. The spine is slightly rounded and lined, accurate endbands are sewn on the head and tail, and then, to keep the cover close to the spine, slots are cut in the vellum, a sort of buttonhole exactly fitting the sewing supports protruding on the spine. In fact the sewing supports have been previously covered with patches of alum-tawed skin ending on the outer side of the boards. This protects the sewing thread and highlights the sequence of bands on the spine." In the collection analyzed by Pugliese, textblocks tend to be sewn all-along rather than skip station, indicating a higher quality of binding (Pugliese 2001, 95).

See Clarkson 1999 for a discussion of this structure. A blog post by Morgan Adams (2013) describes making a model of this structure.

Semi-Limp Vellum

Albritton and Amato (2016, 4) write that variations of the semi-limp vellum binding "appears, from all available evidence, to have arisen at a very specific place and time - France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries - amidst a very specific confluence of geographic, political, economic, and social circumstances." To summarize, such bindings came about with the rising popularity of printed books and were frequently used by printers on smaller, octavo-sized books as a cheap "retail binding". (See also: Pickwoad 1994; Pickwoad 1995; Martin 1993) They describe two types of semi-limp bindings:

  • a wrapped board binding has a "full flexible stiffener found wrapped beneath its outer parchment cover."
  • a floating boards binding has "two separate flexible boards inserted at the front and back covers."

Lined Parchment Cover

In Nicholas Pickwoad's survey of bindings in the Ramey collection, he described a structure frequently observed in the collection that he called the "cover lining binding":

Pickwoad 1995, 228: "This new structure, which appears on a small group of imprints around 1560 but not in larger numbers until the early 1580s (Graph 4) - making it likely that the first group comprises old texts bound up later - is distinguished by having a double cover. First a lining, usually of cartonnage or laminated paper, is wrapped around the sewn textblock, and the main sewing support slips are laced through it. The parchment cover is then folded around the lining, and the endband slips are laced through both, a feature which makes them easily recognisable as the main sewing support slips do not appear on the outside of the binding.... It appears to be an especially French structure, and a date for its introduction in the late 1570s accords with example in other collections. The name often used to describe the structure is 'semi-limp' parchment, but this can be confused with bindings which have thin, separate, flexible boards inserted into them, and thus form an entirely different structure. In the absence of any historical name, it is most clearly referred to as a limp parchment binding with a cover lining."

"Manuscript leaves were often rather thin for making the covers of any but the smallest format books, and many German binders reinforced the parchment covers with paper linings which were pasted to the inside of the cover before it was folded to fit the book. The linings might be of new, clean paper, but more often were of printed or manuscript waste. Depending on the size of the book and the thickness of the parchment, one, two, or even three laminations might be used, and it is characteristic of this usage that the linings were cut to the same size as the parchment cover before the turn-ins were folded, resulting in a double thickness or°lining (and therefore extra strength and stiffness) around the edge of the folded cover. The sewing support slips, and endband slips if there were any, were then laced through both the cover and the linings, a process that further distinguishes them from a different type of lining used by French binders from the last quarter of the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century." (Pickwoad 2000, 6)

Limp Parchment or Limp Vellum

"Limp vellum bindings came into their own at the time of the first printed pocket editions, for which they were so admirably suited," Clarkson (1975 7/15/3-3). Clarkson recognized the value of this structure after working in the recovery efforts after the Florence Flood of 1966, where he observed that printed textblocks bound in limp parchment covers could be relatively easily recovered.

Pickwoad (1995, 209, footnote 2) describes limp bindings as, "...books whose covering material, typically parchment but also paper and occasionally leather, is not wrapped around stiff boards, but forms the sole component of the cover. Such covers, which can be prepared off the book, are usually secured to the sewn textblock by the sewing support and/or the endband slips at the final stage of the binding process."

Limp parchment bindings were often sewn as longstitch bindings, described by Pickwoad (1995, 209, footnote 3): "the book is sewn through both the gatherings and the covering material (Typically parchment or thick paper) at the same time, and results in lengths of thread showing in one or more rows across the spine. It was a rapid and economical way to hold books together, and was often used for temporary, retail bindings and cheaper blank books from the late fifteenth century onwards."

"There was an alternative technique designed to reinforce covers made from thin parchment (and therefore especially covers cut from manuscript leaves) in which the unlined cover was made with turn-ins that were pasted before they were folded in, which resulted in an extra-stiff double thickness of parchment around the edges of the cover. Of the sixty-seven examples of this technique that I have seen, fifty-five were bound in Germany and six in the Low Countries, and all the examples that have covers made from manuscript waste are German. It would appear, therefore, that this technique is likely to be characteristic of the work of German-speaking binders." (Pickwoad 2000, 7)

"Another structural type that commonly makes use of manuscript waste as a wrapper material- because the covers were often intended to be temporary-is the tacketed binding, where the cover is attached to the sewn text block, not by lacing the sewing support slips through the cover as was more common (in surviving examples at least), but by threading a tacket, a length of parchment, leather, tawed skin, or thread, through the cover and attaching it to the sewing supports (fig. 6). 16 It is a binding type that was borrowed from the stationery binding tradition but for some reason was almost exclusively restricted to Germany, the Low Countries, and Italy. Although examples are found from the last quarter of the fifteenth century, surviving examples do not become common until the second decade of the following century, peak in the 1530s, and slowly fall out of favor over the next forty to fifty years. The use of manuscript waste on these bindings does not appear to have been common before the 152os, but this may be as much a reflection of poorer survival rates among earlier examples as evidence of a historical pattern. It is, however, quite clear that the use of manuscript waste as a cover material is an indication of an even lower than normal economic status within the canon of tacketed bindings.

"In the majority of the German examples, the binders also used parchment as the tacketing material, and in several cases the parchment was obtained for this purpose by cutting narrow strips off the piece selected to make the cover." (Pickwoad 2000, 7-8)

Examples See Michigan State University Library's online exhibit, "Limp Bindings: The Ageless Book."

"Traveling Scriptorium, Page 36: Traveling Scriptorium.

Front outside cover of a limp vellum stitched binding, mid 16th century. STC 462.2, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.

Stitched Binding

"In England the use of medieval manuscript waste as a covering material is much more likely to be found on stitched books than on sewn books-that is, on books held together by stabbing thread or thongs through the inner margins of the entire text block of a book, the very cheapest form of binding used by the book trade." (Pickwoad 2000a, 12)

Longstitch Bindings

"Manuscript waste is also associated with less expensive structures such as longstitch and stitched books, many of which were intended to be either temporary or so cheap as to be expendable." (Pickwoad 2000, 4)

An example of a longstitch binding bound in manuscript waste can be seen here.

Tacketed Bindings

Pickwoad (2000b) and Gillespie (2014) have written about tacketed bindings.

Pinkney (2020) describes several tacket styles and making a model in a blog post.

Account Book with Leather Overbands

“Limp vellum covers on account books dating form at least as early as the fourteenth century to the first half of the eighteenth are commonly reinforced with brown leather overbands, which are laced through with thin thongs to form a pattern that is not very dissimilar to the one in use at present.” (Middleton & Nixon 1978, 140)

Parchment as Structural Components


Spine linings

Treatment Protocols

Repairing Covering Material

Parchment covers can be difficult to repair for several reasons. Very often, damage occurs in the form of split joints. Parchment usually has a slick surface

Goldbeater’s skin is an excellent repair material for parchment due to its strength, translucency, and proteinaceous nature. Using Goldbeater's skin adds a collagen-based repair material that closely resembles the collagen that has deteriorated along the original parchment joints. It can be difficult to apply Goldbeater's skin as it is highly reactive to moisture (i.e. it becomes tightly curled) and its smooth surface can result in a weak attachment. Laminating goldbeater’s skin to a kozo paper with bovine gelatin can make it slightly stiffer and easier to handle, as well as increase its strength of attachment. A 5 gsm kozo paper or lighter is recommended in order to retain the translucency of the goldbeater’s skin. (Victoria Wong)

Joint Repair

A split parchment joint repaired by laminated strips of goldbeater's skin and Kozo. Image by Victoria Wong.

Split or splitting parchment joints can be repaired with laminates of goldbeater’s skin and kozo papers. One technique is to apply strips of the goldbeater’s skin laminate in an over-and-under fashion at an angle along the split (see the 2019 BPG Tips Session submission by Victoria Wong). This method emulates historic sewn repairs of knife-cut parchment without adding holes to the original parchment. By modifying the sewn technique, this application provides the strength and flexibility of the historic repair without puncturing the original parchment. To facilitate adhesion, kozo paper must be applied to alternating sides of the Goldbeater’s skin in order to be applied in an over-and-under fashion. The resulting application provides tensile strength at a point of flexion with minimal visual impact. This technique may be useful for tears in other areas of parchment books, such as along a folio fold.

Case Study


Possible topics:

  • surface cleaning
  • humidification/flattening of covers
  • filling losses

Codex Structure Components

Parchment folios from medieval books were frequently recycled as pastedowns in later medieval manuscripts or Incunables. These pastedowns generally have writing on both sides, including the side of the folio adhered to the boards. When removed dry from a board (i.e. with a lifting knife), a common result is "skinning", where the ink and/or the parchment fibers on the surface to remain in the adhesive while the bulk of the folio comes away. Cathie Magee (2019) describes using high acyl gellan gum to remove parchment manuscript waste pastedowns that were adhered to wooden boards. The 1% gel (with 1:1 water and ethanol) were applied to the surface of the parchment and humidified the adhesive through the membrane. Once softened, the parchment could be lifted away with a Delrin spatula.

Modern Parchment Bindings

19th and 20th Century Bindings

Several bookbinding manuals or articles describing the process of binding with parchment were written during the 20th century. Peter Franck (1964, 12) described his experience of the process at Bremer Press, particularly how their process "might deviate from the technical books of Cockerell, Luers and Wiese".

Manuscript waste was sometimes used in the 19th and 20th centuries to create new bindings for Incunables. This may have been done at the direction of rare book dealers. (Paterson 2018, 458)

A limp vellum binding, laced into the textblock with three alum-tawed thongs and the alum-tawed endband cores. Alum-tawed ties are tied shut at the fore edge. Modern binding on a rebound 16th-17th century textblock. Photo by Melina Avery.

Conservation Bindings

Chris Clarkson (1975) observed that books originally bound in limp parchment covers were more easily restored during the recovery efforts after the 1966 Florence flood. He rebound many early printed books that had been damaged in the flood in this manner. (The 1968 film by Roger Hill, The Restoration of Bindings, depicts this process and can be viewed on YouTube.) Part of the appeal of the structure is that it is a non-adhesive binding. One difference in Clarkson's rebindings is In the lacing of the sewing thongs. "Often the 15th or 16th century binder damped the previously rolled thongs and laced them through slots or bodkin holes in the cover and liner, then unrolled and flattened the end of the thong inside the cover. When dry, the end of such a thong would never pull back through its hole. I cannot justify this method as it makes disassembly more difficult, so I carefully select the right size hole for the particular whittawed thong. If the vellum is of good quality it will not tear, but grip the thong firmly, and the second hole, further in, I make smaller so that a sound anchorage is produced," (Chris Clarkson 1975, 75/15/3-11).

Clarkson (1999) also developed a stiff-board parchment binding with a slotted spine to expose the sewing supports.

Tutorials and Workshops


Artists Bindings

Limp Bindings from the Vatican Library, edited by Monica Langwe (2013) features several examples of modern parchment bindings by book artists and conservators, including Chela Metzger.


Parchment as Binding Components

Adams, Morgan. "Modeling History: Making a Stiff-Board Parchment Binding with a Slotted Spine." Books, Health, and History: The New York Academy of Medicine. April 4, 2013. Accessed May 20, 2020. https://nyamcenterforhistory.org/2013/04/04/modeling-history-making-a-stiff-board-parchment-binding-with-a-slotted-spine/

Albritton, Erin and Christina Amato. 2016. "A Study of Two Semi-Limp Parchment Binding Styles in the Rare Book Collection at The New York Academy of Medicine Library." In Suave Mechanicals, vol. 3, edited by Julia Miller, 2-61. Ann Arbor: Legacy Press.

Barrios, P. 2006. Notes on the limp vellum binding. The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist, 2(2), 24-27. https://archive.org/stream/TheBonefolderE-journalForTheBookbinderAndBookArtist/BonefolderVol2No2#page/n23/mode/2up

Clarkson, Christopher. 1975. "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. In Preprints of the ICOM Committee for Conservation 4th Triennial Meeting: Venice 13-16 October 1975: 75/15/3/1-15 <https://archive.org/details/gri_33125001137807/page/n390/mode/1up> [Reprinted 1982, Red Gull Press]

Clarkson, Christopher. 1987. "Preservation and Display of Single Parchment Leaves and Fragments." Conservation of Library and Archive Materials and the Graphic Arts. Guy Petherbridge, ed. London: Butterworths. 201-209.

Clarkson, Christopher. 1999. “A stiff-board vellum binding in which the covering has been slotted across the spine to accommodate raised bands.” In International Conference on Conservation and Restoration of Archival and Library Materials (Erice, 22th-29th April 1996), edited by C. Federici and P.F. Munafò, Palermo: G.B. Palumbo, vol. II, 537-549.

Cowie. 1828. CITATION NEEDED. https://archive.org/details/cowiesbookbinder00lond

Cummins, Thomas B. F. 2014. Manuscript cultures of Colonial Mexico and Peru: new questions and approaches. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute. https://lccn.loc.gov/2014016080

Espinosa, Robert. 1993. "The Limp Vellum Binding: A Modification." The New Bookbinder 13: 27-37.

Franck, Peter. 1964. “Vellum Binding.” Journal of the Guild of Book Workers III (1): 11–22.

Geraty, Peter. 2019. "A Manual Approach to Stiff-Board Parchment Binding." In Suave Mechanicals: Essays on the History of Bookbinding Volume 5, ed. Julia Miller, Legacy Press: Ann Arbor, 125-196.

Gillespie, Alexandra. 2014. "Bookbinding and Early Printing in England." In A companion to the early printed book in Britain 1476-1558, eds. Vincent Gillespie and Susan Powell, 75-94.

Giuffrida, Barbara. "Limp and Semi-limp Vellum Bindings." Designer Bookbinders Review nos. 4, 5, and 8 (Autumn 1974, SPring 1975, and Autumn 1976).

Hill, R., Waters, P., and Clarkson, C. 1968. The Restoration of Books, Florence, 1968: A Film Based on the Work in the National Library of Florence Resulting from the Floods on 4 November 1966. Film. London: Royal College of Art funded by the Italian Art and Archives Rescue Fund. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip6698z_QmY>

Langwe, Monica. 2013. Limp Bindings from the Vatican Library. Langwe: Sweden.

This slim volume contains eleven historical examples of limp bindings (nine parchment, two paper) from the Vatican Library. Each example has one color photograph of the object in a three-quarter view plus several black and white diagrams of different components of the structure.

Leonard, Irving A. “Best Sellers of the Lima Book Trade, 1583.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 22, no. 1 (1942): 5–33.

Ligatus Language of Bindings Thesaurus. Accessed April 30, 2018.

Has definitions for limp covers, stitched bindings laced-case limp bindings, and drummed-on.

Lindsay, Jen. 1991. "A limp vellum binding sewn on alum-tawed thongs." The New Bookbinder 11: 3-19.

MacAlister, John Young Walker, Alfred W. Pollard, R. B. McKerrow, and Frank Chalton Francis. 1905. “A new method of preserving old bookbindings, or of rebinding old books.” In The Library Ser. 2 (VI) London: Oxford University Press, 208-211. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b3309972&view=2up&seq=224&size=125

Magee, Cathie. 2019. "High Acyl Gellan Gum for Parchment Conservation." Book and Paper Annual 39, 112-118.

Martin, Henri-Jean. 1993. Print, power, and people in 17th-century France. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.

Middleton, Bernard C., and Howard Millar Nixon. 1978. A history of English craft bookbinding technique. London: The Holland Press.

Nixon, Howard Millar, and Albert Ehrman. 1956. Broxbourne library: styles and designs of bookbindings, from the twelfth to the twentieth century. London: Published for the Broxbourne Library by Maggs Bros.

Paterson, Dan. 2018. "Treatment of Two Vellum Manuscript Waste Bindings and a Survey of Similar Bindings in American Research Libraries." In Care and Conservation of Manuscripts 16. Edited by M. J. Driscoll, 449-465. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen.

Pickwoad, Nicholas. 1994. "Onward and Downward: How Binders Coped with the Printing Press before 1800." In A Millennium of the Book: Production, Design & Illustration in Manuscript and Print 900-1900. Ed. Robin Myers and Michael Harris. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 61-106.

Pickwoad, Nicholas. 1995. "The Interpretation of Bookbinding Structure: The Ramey Collection of Sixteenth-Century Bindings in the Pierpont Morgan Library." The Library. 17 (3): 209-249.

Pickwoad, Nicholas. 2000a. "The Use of Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts in the Construction and Covering of Bindings on Printed Books." In Interpreting and collecting fragments of medieval books: Proceedings of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, 1998 eds. Linda L. Brownrigg and Margaret M. Smith, Los Altos Hills: Anderson-Lovelace, 1-20.

Pickwoad, Nicholas. 2000b. "Tacketed Bindings: A Hundred Years of European Bookbinding." In For the Love of Binding: Studies in Bookbinding Presented to Mirjam Foot, ed. David Pearson, 119-167.

Pinkney, Annabel. "Independent Study in the Lab – Tacketed Binding." Accessed May 26, 2020. https://publish.illinois.edu/conservationlab/2020/04/13/independent-study-in-the-lab-tacketed-binding/

Pollard, Graham. 1956. "Changes in the style of bookbinding, 1550-1830." In Library : a quarterly review of bibliography, ser. 5, v. 11, no. 2, pp. 71-94.

Pugliese, Sylvia. 2001. “Stiff-Board Vellum Binding with Slotted Spine: Survey of a Historical Bookbinding Structure.” Papier Restaurierung – Mitteilungen der IADA (2, Suppl. S.). 93-101.

Describes the slotted spine structure.

Ramirez. 2013. “Limp, Laced-Case Binding in Parchment on Sixteenth-Century Mexican Printed Books.”


Reid-Cunningham, James. "Pierced Vellum Bindings by James Reid-Cunningham." Guild of Bookworkers. Jan 20, 2013(?). Accessed May 26, 2020. https://guildofbookworkers.org/blog/pierced-vellum-bindings-james-reid-cunningham

Roberts, Matt and Don Etherington. 1982. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Washington DC: Library of Congress. Available online through CoOL.

Definition for limp binding.

Sheppard, Jennifer M. 2000. "Medieval Binding Structures: Potential Evidence from Fragments." In Interpreting and collecting fragments of medieval books: Proceedings of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, 1998 eds. Linda L. Brownrigg and Margaret M. Smith, Los Altos Hills: Anderson-Lovelace, pages?

Wong, Victoria. 2019. "Laminates for Mending Split Parchment Joints." Presented at the 47thAIC Annual Meeting 2019, BPG Tips Session, New England. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/w/images/d/d4/Wong_BPG-tip-2019.pdf

Parchment Bindings as Conservation Bindings

Hill, Roger, Peter Waters, and Christopher Clarkson. 2006. The restoration of books, Florence, 1968: a film based on the work in the National Library of Florence resulting from the floods on 4 November 1966. [Salt Lake City, Utah]: [University of Utah Library]. http://data.scl.utah.edu/fmi/xsl/stream/details.xsl?-recid=354.

YouTube link to entire video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip6698z_QmY

Munn, Jesse. Treatment Techniques for the Vellum Covered Furniture of Carlo Bugatti. BPGA 8 (1989). http://aic.stanford.edu/sg/bpg/annual/v08/bp08-04.html

Verheyen, Peter D. 2002. "Vellum on Boards". Handout available on philibiblon.com.

Describes a case binding structure for vellum binding with stiff boards, as presented to the 2001 Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence. See also Verheyen's article "Vellum Over Boards. Presentation at 21st Standards of Excellence Seminar (2001). Guild of Book Workers Journal 39:1 Spring 2004. 6-20.

Treatment Techniques

Belaya, I.K. Softening and Restoration of Parchment in Manuscripts and Bookbindings. Restaurator 1,1 (1970).

Belaya, I. K. Selecting and Testing Adhesives for the Restoration of Skin Bindings and Parchments. Restaurator 1,4 (1970): 221-31.

Bykova, G. Z. Medieval Painting on Parchment: Technique, Preservation and Restoration. Restaurator 14 (1993): 188-197.

Bykova, G. Z. T. B. Rogozina, N. L. Petrova, V. S. Petetskaya. 1996. The Elimination of Parchment Deformation in a Text Block from Simeon Gordyi's Codex. Edinburg Congress Postprints, ICOM Committee for Conservation. 500-509.

Cains, Anthony. 1987. Repair Treatments for Vellum Manuscripts. In: Conservation of Library and Archive Materials and the Graphic Arts. Guy Petherbridge, ed. London: Butterworths. 183-94.

Down, J. L., G. S. Young, R. S. Williams, M. A. MacDonald. 2002. Analysis of the Archimedes Palimpsest. Works of Art on paper, books, documents, and photographs: Techniques and conservation. Contributions to the IIC Baltimore Congress, 2-6 September 2002. London: IIC. 52-58.

Giuffrida, Barbara. Book Conservation Workshop Manual, Part Four: The Repair of Parchment and Vellum. The New Bookbinder 3 (1983).

Kruger Grossman, Annlinn. The Gantse Megillah: Conservation of a 14-15th Century Parchment Esther Scroll. BPGA 16 (1997) http://aic.stanford.edu/sg/bpg/annual/v16/bp16-04.html

Logan, Judith A., and Young, Gregory S. ‘A Message in a Bottle': The Conservation of a Waterlogged Parchment Document. Journal of the IIC-Canadian Group, 12 (1987): 28-36.

Moktsova, I.P., Bykova, G.Z., and Ivanova, I. 1972. The Conservation Methods for Miniature-Painting on Parchment. In: Conservation of Paintings and Graphic Arts. London: International Institute for Conservation. 915-17.

Pataki, Andrea, A. Blüher, G. Banik, and J. Wouters. 1999. A Dyeing Method for Reconstituted Parchment. ICOM Committee for Conservation, Preprints, 12th Triennial Meeting, Lyons, August 1999, New York: James & James Science Publishers. 534-538.

Pataki, A., K. Forstmeyer, A. Giovannini., 2002. Leafcasting parchment documents degraded by mould. ICOM Committee for Conservation, 13th Triennial Meeting, Rio de Janeiro 22-27 Sept. 2002. London: James and James. 622-627.

Peckstadt, A., and L. Watteeuw. 1996. The Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts: Two Case Studies. ICOM Committee for Conservation, Edinburg Congress Postprints. 539-544.

Quandt, A. 2002. The Archimedes Palimpsest: Conservation Treatment, digital imaging and transcription of a rare mediaeval manuscript. Works of Art on paper, books, documents, and photographs: Techniques and conservation. Contributions to the IIC Baltimore Congress, 2-6 Sept. 2002. London: IIC. 165-170.

Quandt, A.B. Recent Developments in the Conservation of Parchment Manuscripts. BPGA 15 (1996). http://aic.stanford.edu/sg/bpg/annual/v15/bp15-14.html

Quandt, Abigail B. 1986. The Conservation of a 12th Century Illuminated Manuscript on Vellum. AIC Preprints. Washington DC: American Institute for Conservation. 97-113.

Wouters, Jan and Gely Gancedo. 1993. Parchment Leafcasting with Dermal Tissue Preparations. ICOM Committee for Conservation 10th Triennial Meeting, Washington, DC, 22-27 Aug. 1993, Preprints. 524-528.

Wouters, Jan, An Peckstadt, Lieve Watteeuw. Leafcasting with Dermal Tissue Preparations: A New Method for Repairing Fragile Parchment, and its Application to the Codex Eyckensis. The Paper Conservator 19 (1995): 5-22.

Surface Grime on Parchment

Rudy, Kathryn. Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer. Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 2 (1) Summer 2010.

History of Parchment

Abt, Jeffrey & Margaret A. Fusco. A Byzantine Scholar’s Letter on the Preparation of Manuscript Vellum. Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC) 28,2 (1989): 61-66 http://aic.stanford.edu/jaic/articles/jaic28-02-001.html

Cains, Anthony. The Vellum of the Book of Kells. The Paper Conservator: Journal of the Institute of Paper Conservation 16 (1992): 50-61.

Gottscher, Leonardo. Ancient Methods of Parchment-Making. Discussion on Recipes and Experimental Essays. In: Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques, Erice 18-25 September, 1992. Marilena Maniaci, Paola Munafo, Eds. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1993. 40-56.

Gullick, Michael. 1991. From parchmenter to scribe: some observations on the manufacture and preparation of medieval parchment based upon a review of the literary evidence. Pergament, Geschichte, Struktur, Restaurierung, Herstellung. Peter Rück ed. Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke Verlag. 145-158.

Public Record Office. 1996. An Introduction to Parchment. Introduction to Archival Materials. Surrey, England.

Reed, R. 1972. Ancient Skins, Parchments and Leather. London: Seminar Press.

Ryder, Michael. 1991. The Biology and History of Parchment. In: Pergament, Geschichte, Struktur Restaurierung, Herstellung. Peter Rück, Ed. Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke Verlag. 25-34.

Ryder, Michael. Parchment—Its History, Manufacture and Composition. Journal of Society of Archivists 2 (1964): 391-399.

Ustick, W. Lee. Parchment and Vellum. Library 4, ser. 16 (1935-36): 439-443.

Yeager, Nicholas. 1996. An Analysis and Review of Parchment Making Literature and Recipes. Austin: Outlaw Press.

Parchment Analysis

Abt, Jeffrey. 1985. The Deterioration Mechanism in Byzantine Manuscript Illuminations of Greek Origin. Washington, DC: AIC Preprints. 1-14.

Dobrussina, Svetlana A., Vitaliya Visotskite. Chemical Treatment Effects on Parchment Properties in the Course of Ageing. Restaurator 15 (1994): 208-219.

Federici, Carlo, et al. Trans. Margaret Hey. 1996. The Determination of Animal Species Used in Medieval Parchment Making: Non-destructive Identification Techniques. Roger Powell: The Compleat Binder. Guy Petherbridge and John Sharpe, Eds. Turnhout: Brepols. 146 -153.

Gonzales, L. and T.J. Wess. The importance of understanding the terminology of collagen and gelatine in the study of parchment. Journal of the Institute of Conservation 36, 2 (2013): 104-108.

ICOM. International Leather and Parchment Symposium, May 1989. H. Porck, Identification of Parchment using Isoeletrofocusing, 60-64; Mook, Recent Research into the Technique of C14 dating applied to parchment; Hallebeek, Notes concerning the Condition of Parchment, 85-93; van Soest, Researching the Conservation and Restoration of Parchment, 94-103.

Kennedy, C.J. and T.J. Wess. The Structure of Collagen within Parchment - A Review. Restaurator 24, 2 (2003): 61-80.

Odlyha, M.N. and S. Cohen. 2002. Assessment of the state of degradation of historical parchment by dynamic mechanical thermal analysis and solid-state 13C NMR. ICOM Committee for Conservation, 13th Triennial Meeting, Rio de Janeiro 22-27 Sept. 2002. London: James & James. 615-621.

Stachelberger, H., A Haberditzl, G. Banik, F. Bauer, F. Mairinger. 1987. Electrophoretic Investigations on Parchment Decay. ICOM Committee for Conservation. 8th Trienntial Meeting, Sydney, Australia, 6-11 Sept. 1987, Preprints. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute. 727-279.

Rosa, Halina, and A. B. Strzelczyk. 1991. Parchment - Report on the Conservation and Scientific Methods developed in the Laboratory of Paper and Leather Conservation at the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland. In: Pergament Geschichte, Struktur, Restaurierung, Herstellung. Sigmaringen: Kan Thorbecke Verlag. Rück, ed. 254-261.

Vest, M., ed. Micromethods for the Analysis of Parchment. 1988. Poster session, 25 Years – School of Conservation. The Jubilee Symposium, 18-20 May 1998, Preprints. Kopenhagen: Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi. 169-179.

Wallert, Arie. 1996. Tannins on the Parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. ICOM Committee for Conservation Edinburg Congress Postprints.. 560-564.

Williams, Stephen L., Sarah R. Beyer, Samina Khan. Effect of 'Freezing' Treatments on the Hydrothermal Stability of Collagen. JAIC 34, 2 (Summer 1995): 107-112.

Young, Gregory S. 1985. The Potential of Shrinkage Temperature Measurements for Use in Studies of Skin and Leather Conservation. Abstracts of IIC-Canadian Group, 11th Annual Meeting, May 1985. 27.

Parchment Fragments and Mounting

Brownrigg, Linda L., and Margaret M. Smith, Interpreting and collecting fragments of medieval books: Proceedings of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, 1998. Los Altos Hills, CA: Anderson-Lovelace.

"The Use of Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts in the Construction and Covering of Bindings on Printed Books" - Nicholas Pickwoad
"Educators, Collectors, Fragments, and the "Illuminations" Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Nineteenth Century" - Rowan Watson
"Selling Manuscript Fragments in the 1960s" - Christopher de Hamel
"A Livy Copied by Giacomo Curlo Dismembered by Otto Ege" - A. C. de la Mare
"Newly Discovered Fragments of Music at Worcester Cathedral: A Preliminary Account" - Rodney Thomson
"The Illustrated Fragments of the Roman de la Rose" - Meradith T. McMunn
"Manuscript Fragments at Windsor Castle and the Entente Cordiale" - Jenny Stratford
"Fragments of Middle English Verse: An Overview and Some Speculations about their Survival" - Linne R. Mooney
"Fragments of Medieval Music Codices in Ljubljana Archives and Libraries" - Jurij Snoj
"Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Sweden: A Catalogue Project" - Jan Brunius
"Medieval Binding Structures: Potential Evidence from Fragments" - Jennifer M. Sheppard
"Fragments Used for "Servile" Purposes: The St Bride Library Frisket for Early Red Printing" - Margaret M. Smith
"Recycling the Written Word: Manuscript Fragments and Late Medieval Readers" - Eric H. Reiter
"A Scribe at Work: Fragments as Witnesses to Changes in Style" - Michael Gullick
"The Fragments of a Double Antiphonal from Beaupré" - Lilian M. C. Randall
"A Pair of Franco-Flemish Cistercian Antiphonals of the Thirteenth Century and Their Programs of Illumination" - Elizabeth C. Teviotdale

Huxtable, M. and V. Button, D. Normann. 1996. Improving and Monitoring the Condition of a Collection of Illuminated Parchment Manuscript Fragments - at Home and in Transit. ICOM Committee for Conservation Edinburg Congress Postprints. 523-532.

Lawson, Margaret. A Method of Mounting Parchment Using Hair Silk. BPGA 18 (1999): 53-57.

Normann, Daniel. The Mounting of Single Leaf Parchment and Vellum Objects for Display and Storage. Conservation Journal (Oct. 1993): 10-13.

Oldford Churchill, Lee. The conservation and mounting of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Charter. Journal of the Institute of Conservation 38, 1 (2015): 65-76.

Modern Parchment

Ellis, Margaret Holben. Drawings on Parchment: Special Conservation Problems for Collectors. Drawing 2, 4 (November-December 1980): 85-6.

Fairbanks, Theresa. 1999. The Mystery and Mystique of Printing on Parchment. In: Changing Impressions: Marcantonio Raimondi & Sixteenth-Century Print Connoisseurship. Clay Dean, et al. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. 44-59.

Hansen, Eric F., Steve N. Lee, & Harry Sobel, The Effects of Relative Humidity on Some Physical Properties of Modern Vellum. JAIC 31 (3) 1992. http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/jaic/articles/jaic31-03-005_3.html

Not Sure

Fuchs, R. The history of chemical reinforcement of texts in manuscripts - What should we do now? Care and Conservation of Manuscripts 7 (2003): 159-170.

Gumbert, Peter J. 1993. Sizes and Formats. Ancient and Medieval Book Materials and Techniques, Erice 18-25 September 1992, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. 227-263.

Jackson, Donald. 1981. The Story of Writing. New York: Taplinger Publishing Co.

John, James. 1976. Writing Materials, and the following short chapters. In: James Powell, ed., Medieval Studies, Syracuse University Press.

Rück, Peter, ed. 1991. Pergament, Geschichte, Struktur, Restaurierung, Herstellung. Sigmaringen: Kan Thorbecke Verlag, Articles by various authors, see other items in this bibliography.

Wallert, Arie. 1989. Medieval Recipes for the Coloring of Parchment. In: International Leather- and Parchment Symposium, 8-12 May 1989. Offenbach: Deutsches Ledermuseum. 118-132.

Wikipedia. "Conservation and Restoration of Parchment". Accessed December 19, 2016.

Wikipedia article with a fairly recent list of references to conservation sources.

Wood, Maria. The Case for Casing. Library Conservation News 14 (Jan. 1986): 1, 6.

History of This Page

Prior to the creation of the AIC Conservation Wiki, this page was created as "Section 4 - Chapter 2 - Parchment" of the Book Conservation Catalog by Abbey Haywood and Jim Hinz. For more see: History of the BPG Wiki. In 2020, the page was substantially rewritten to focus on parchment used as a covering materials for books.

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