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Removing the flesh from a deerskin with a traditional curved blade

Early Manufacture (History and Techniques)

  1. Salt (Preserving wet skin)
  2. Dehairing / Degreasing (Scraping, lime, enzymes)
  3. Fleshing (Scraping)
  4. Restraint drying
  5. Finishing (Sanding)

Early American Manufacture (History and Techniques)

Contemporary Manufacture (Practitioners and Techniques)

Use in Book Manufacture (History and Techniques)

Scroll Panels

Codex Leaves

Tapes / Sewing Supports

Covering Material

There are differences of opinion in how to describe various styles of parchment-covered bookbindings. Etherington & Roberts (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, but both Ligatus and Albritton & Amato agree that a semi-limp binding has a thin, flexible board underneath the covering material. Stiff-board bindings have rigid boards that are fully adhered, drummed-on, or loose (i.e. the classification depends on the rigidity of the underlying material).

Other conservators base the classification on whether or not the covering material is adhered to the board. 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].

Limp Vellum

Semi-Limp Vellum

Albritton and Amato (2016) 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."

Stiff Board Vellum

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.

Stiff-Board Vellum Binding with Slotted Spine

See Clarkson and Pugliese articles below.

Other Uses


  • Laminate
  • Seating (slung)
  • Lamp Shades

Musical Instruments, Percussion

Treatment Protocols

Scroll Panels

  • Surface Cleaning
  • Adhesive Removal / Stain Reduction
  • Media Consolidation
  • Mending Materials and Adhesives
  • Humidification and Flattening
  • Housing and Environment

Codex Leaves

Tapes / Sewing Supports

Covering Material

Historical Techniques and Materials


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, Michigan: Legacy Press.
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 (Eric, 22th-29th April 1996), edited by C. Federici and P.F. Munafò, Palermo: G.B. Palumbo, vol. II, 537-549.
Describes the slotted spine structure.
Ligatus Language of Bindings Thesaurus. Accessed April 30, 2018.
Has definitions for limp covers, laced-case limp bindings, and drummed-on.
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.
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.
Wikipedia. "Conservation and Restoration of Parchment". Accessed December 19, 2016.
Wikipedia article, with a fairly recent list of references to conservation sources.
Verheyen, Peter D. 2002. "Vellum on Boards". Handout available on
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.

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