BPG Book Decoration

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Wiki Compiler: Katherine Parks
Wiki Contributors: Kevin Auer, Melina Avery, Mary Baughman, Meaghan Brown, Emma Guerard, Cathie Magee, Suzy Morgan, Olivia Primanis

Copyright 2024. The AIC Wiki is a publication of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). It is published as a convenience for the members of AIC. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with and citing the wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page.

Cite this page:

American Institute for Conservation (AIC). "BPG Book Decoration." AIC Wiki. June 14, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_Book_Decoration.

Decorative Techniques[edit | edit source]

Leather Tooling[edit | edit source]

Blind Tooling[edit | edit source]

blind tooling on a model Byzantine binding

"A method of decorating a book in which impressions are made in the covering material, usually leather or tawed skin, by means of heated tools, pallets, rolls, fillets, or combinations of one or more of these. As the name implies, blind tooling does not entail the use of leaf metal, foil, or any other coloring material, with the possible exception of carbon, which is sometimes used to darken the impressions.

The effect of blind tooling rests largely on the depth and uniformity of the impressions (which makes it unsuitable for use with hard covering materials) and the ability of the heated tool to produce a darkened color (see above)—factors which make leather, especially in the lighter shades, an ideal medium for this method of decoration.

The critical aspects of the technique are the temperature of the tool and the degree of dampness of the leather. In general, the damper the leather the cooler the tool should be, and vice versa. In tooling leather blind, the surface is given a quick initial strike to "set" the leather in the impression. The tool is then impressed again and rocked slightly, which polishes and darkens the impression. When blind lines run across the spine of the book, polishing is accomplished by sliding a pallet along the lines; on the covers, where a fillet is used for long lines, it is fixed so that instead of rolling, it slides along the impression.

Blind tooling has been used as a means of decorating books since the early days of bookbinding, and can be traced back to COPTIC BINDINGS of the 7th or 8th centuries, and even earlier. There is reason to believe that the technique was brought to Europe from the Mediterranean area about the same time as other Coptic techniques being used, possibly by imported craftsmen; however, little is known of blind-tooled bindings until the 12th century and early part of the 13th. In one form or another, the technique has been used continuously up to the present day, but during the 16th to 18th centuries, its use was more or less limited to inferior calf- and sheepskin bindings. Near the end of the 18th and during the early years of the 19th centuries blind tooling was often used on fine bindings in conjunction with gold. Also called 'antique tooling.' " (Roberts & Etherington, 26)

Gold Tooling[edit | edit source]

"The act of using heated line tools, letter tools, and finishing tools to letter and decorate a binding with gold leaf. The most basic steps of the process include: blind tooling a design on a cover; painting the design area with an adhesive such as glaire (egg whites) based on recipes that varied binder to binder and were usually secret; laying gold leaf over the design area; repeating the tooling of the design area, making every effort to strike the original blind design dead on; and possibly laying on one or more additional layers of leaf, and tooling again. Good gold tooling requires great patience, superb hand-eye coordination, and constant practice." (Miller 2014, 458-9)

Types of Tools[edit | edit source]

Fillet[edit | edit source]
Brass fillet tool with a wooden handle.

"1. A wheel-shaped finishing tool having one or more raised bands on its circumference. It is used to impress a line or parallel lines on the covering material of a book, usually one bound in leather. The lines may be continuous or the fillets may have a wedge-shaped gap in the circumference to facilitate starting and stopping lines and also to enable lines to be joined evenly at corners. It is not known when the fillet first came into use. Bindings of the 12th century, and even earlier, have impressed lines that could have been made with a fillet, but they may also have been impressed with a pallet, or similar tool, dragged across the leather rather than rolled. It is argued that it probably did not precede the roll, which was introduced in about 1470. by any great length of time, because once a wheel-type tool was introduced, it would soon be patterned. It is sometimes called a "roulette" in the United States. 2. The plain line or lines impressed on a book cover. The so-called French fillet is a triple fillet (always in gold) having unevenly spaced lines." (Roberts & Etherington, 101)

Roll[edit | edit source]

"1. A finishing tool consisting of a brass wheel, the circumference of which is engraved so as to impress a continuous repeating pattern as it revolves under (considerable) pressure. The decorative roll was used in Germany at least as early as the 1460s, and was in common use by the second decade of the 16th century. Most of these early rolls were cut intaglio, so that the design on the leather was raised, but many were also cut in relief. The average length of the pattern impressed by early rolls was approximately 5 to 6 inches, which would give a wheel diameter of approximately 1.6 to 1.9 inches. The common diameter of rolls used today is about 3.5 inches, which is capable of producing an impression of about 11 inches in length. The smaller size, however, is still in use. Rolls have been produced in an enormous variety of designs, including simple lines, simple and intricate patterns, as well as edge and title rolls. 2. The design impressed by a roll." (Roberts & Etherington, 219)

Gouge[edit | edit source]

"A single-line finishing tool, used either for blind or gold tooling on the covers but not the spine of a book. It has a curved edge which forms a segment of a concentric circle. Gouges are generally made in sets of ten, and, if a series of concentric circles are drawn about 1/10 inch apart, the lines impressed by each succeeding gouge will be longer and flatter. So-called flat curved gouges are those derived from an even larger circle, and are therefore less curved than regular gouges. When tooling, the gouge is always sighted from the concave side." (Roberts & Etherington, 121)

Palette[edit | edit source]
Double line palette on a wooden handle.

"1. A finishing tool having a long narrow face bearing a line or design, and used for decorating books, usually those bound in leather. Straight-line pallets are available in various lengths, and a complete set, used for building designs, ranges from 1/16 inch to a maximum of 2, 3, 4, or more inches, increasing (in very complete sets) by as little as 1/16 inch at a time. Pallets are generally used to impress lines on the spines of books, although they are also used on the covers, especially to finish off lines impressed with fillets, or other tools. Very short pallets are usually referred to as "short-line pallets" or, occasionally, as "short-line tools." The edge of the pallet is made very slightly convex in order to avoid cutting the leather in the process of tooling. A decorative pallet is called a "band pallet," while one with more than one line on its face is called a "two-, "three-," etc., "line pallet." 2. A tool used for holding and heating type for lettering a book." (Roberts & Etherington, 186)

Lozenge[edit | edit source]

"A diamond-shaped stamp, or a square stamp turned 45° on its axis, and used in decorating bookbindings." (Roberts & Etherington, 161)

Decorative handle tools[edit | edit source]

Jane Greenfield. “drawer handle.” (ABC of Bookbinding. New Castle: Oak Knoll, 1998) 131.

Handle letters[edit | edit source]

Geoffrey Ashall Glaister, “hand-letters.” (Encyclopedia of the Book. 2nd ed. Oak Knoll Press: New Castle, 1996) 218.

Centerpiece[edit | edit source]

"1. A finishing stamp, usually arabesque, blocked in the center of the cover and generally used in combination with center pieces or corner stamps. It was a popular form of decoration in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Also called "centerstamp." 2. A piece of metal, usually embossed and engraved, and fastened to the cover of a book. " (Roberts & Etherington, 50)

Cornerpiece[edit | edit source]

"1. A bookbinding finishing tool, usually arabesque, designed to be used at the corners of a leather binding, usually for the purpose of matching a centerpiece or other form of decoration. 2. Metal corners attached to a binding to protect the corners of the covers from damage. Removable pasteboard cornerpieces are sometimes used to protect the corners of books during shipment." (Roberts & Etherington, 66)

Cut/Pierced Leather[edit | edit source]

See also: BPG Parchment Bookbinding: Cut Parchment or Pierced Vellum.

Cuir-ciselé[edit | edit source]

Front Cover

"A method of decorating a bookbinding in which the design is cut into dampened leather instead of being tooled or blocked. The design is first outlined with a pointed tool and then dampened. It is then brought into relief by depressing the background, usually by stamping a succession of dots into the leather very close together by means of a pointed tool. Certain parts of the design are sometimes embossed from the flesh side of the leather, and in such cases the decorating must be done before covering.

This technique of embellishment, which may well have been the highest manifestation of the medieval bookbinder's art, was widely practiced only during the 15th century and only in certain areas, principally southeastern Germany and in Spain. No English and Flemish and practically no Italian examples are known.

The finest cuir-ciselé bindings have been identified as the work of Mair Jaffé. More recent (and excellent) examples were produced in France by Marius Michel, c 1866." (Roberts & Etherington, 70)

"A decorative style known as lederschnitt, or leather cutting. It was practiced for a fairly short time in the fifteenth century, primarily in a few areas of Germany and Spain. The decoration involved cutting a design into damp leather and using pointed tools to pepper parts of the design area to bring them into relief; sometimes a design was embossed into the skin from the flesh side. The designs range from crude to extremely refined." (Miller 2014, 448)

See also: Hobson 1929.

Leather Inlay/Onlay[edit | edit source]

Mosaic[edit | edit source]

"A binding decorated with inlay or onlay of different colors and textures of leather, a technique that was first practiced in England and France in the sixteenth century, often for central decorations and as the background for armorial devices. Eighteenth-century binders combined onlay and inlay with gold tooling to create beautiful designs of leaves and flowers, using straight- and curved-line tools and small decorative dies. Later bindings incorporated elaborate scenes using Chinese motifs. Notable binders from the nineteenth century continued the tradition of beautiful, richly designed, and well-executed mosaic bindings, and the style continues today." (Miller 2014, 471-2)

Terms: mosaïque (Fr)

Modeled Leather[edit | edit source]

"A technique of shaping leather over a foundation when damp or soaking it, shaping it, and letting it dry in place. Egyptian foundation-molded leather artifacts indicate an early knowledge of the technique, and it was used on early Islamic bindings known as Kairouan box bindings. The technique has connections to cuir bouilli and was used in different ways and locations through most of the late-nineteenth century, when a vogue for making modeled-leather bindings occurred among amateur bookbinders." (Miller 2014, 471)

Molded Leather (Cuir-bouilli)[edit | edit source]

"A method of decorating a book utilizing the capability of a vegetable tanned leather to be molded when wet. After being thoroughly softened in water the leather can be formed or molded into various shapes, which, on drying, retain those shapes with a remarkable degree of permanence. The wet-mold leather can be more permanently set by drying it under moderate heat, the degree of rigidity obtained cuir-ciselé being determined by the drying temperature. A faster method, and one that produces extremely hard and rigid shapes, is to dip the molded leather into boiling water for anywhere from 20 to 120 seconds. This is the process that gave rise to the name "cuir-bouilli." Such a process involves the partial melting of the fixed tannin aggregates in the leather. At a temperature approaching 100C. these aggregates become plastic and can be made to flow and redistribute themselves throughout the fiber network of the leather. On cooling, the fibers become embedded in what can best be called a tough, three-dimensional, polymer network or resin, somewhat similar to the materials made by condensing formaldehyde with substances such as phenol, urea or melamine. The leather actually sets so hard that some books bound in this manner required no boards. The decoration itself was executed by cutting the leather lightly while damp, after which the design was hammered in relief. The shaped leather was then immersed in boiling water, and dried, and the depressions were filled with molten wax so as to preserve the designs.

The molding of leather was known in Saxon times in England, and was widely practiced during the middle ages in both England and on the Continent. The motifs used were generally mythological animals and interlaced foliage. In the late 19th century interest in the molding of leather was revived and used extensively for many objects, including bookbindings." (Roberts & Etherington, 69-70)

Painted Leather[edit | edit source]

See also: BPG Parchment Bookbinding: Painted Parchment.

"Medieval painted bindings have imagery painted directly on a cover, or painted pieces of leather or vellum that have been added to a cover. Stained, mottled and dyed vellum bindings are sometimes incorrectly described as painted. Painted-vellum and -leather bindings were made in a the second half of the sixteenth century, and there was a vogue for painted landscapes on pale-brown leather bindings in the seventeenth and eighteenth century associated with Edwards of Halifax. Painted vellum, leather, and velvet also reappeared during the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late-nineteenth century." (Miller 2014, 475)

Stained Leather[edit | edit source]

See also: BPG Parchment Bookbinding: Dyed or Stained Parchment.

Kermes stained[edit | edit source]

Mottled[edit | edit source]

"The decorative use of stain in the eighteenth century, particularly on Spanish and French bindings and to a lesser extent British bindings. The stain was applied to leather covers using brushed, sponges, and other implements to make repetitive symmetrical and asymmetrical spots and shapes. The mottling was usually done in rows, but there are examples of diagonal mottled patterns and curved lines of mottling. The bindings are more elaborate than most trade bindings and not quite as superior as extra bindings. Mottled bindings usually have gilt spines; stained, sprinkled, or marbled text edges; decorated endpapers; and worked endbands." (Miller 2014, 472)

Spanish calf[edit | edit source]

"A term describing a staining pattern first attributed to Spanish binders where rust-red, green, and black stain in run horizontally across a cover, usually of medium-brown calf, to create strong bands of color. Another style employed the stain in a pattern of blotches instead of bands of color." (Miller 2014, 490)

Sprinkled[edit | edit source]

"A calf or sheepskin binding decorated with sprinkled spots of color of various media including chemical or pigmented stains. The sprinkling was traditionally done with a shaken brush or one tapped against an iron bar, and later, by a brush rubbed over a sieve." (Miller 2014, 490)

Tree-calf / Tree-marble[edit | edit source]

"Tree marbling is the use of an aqueous solution of chemicals (copperas and pearl ash) carefully added to a leather cover, tilted to allow the chemicals to run. The technique was first used in the late 1770s and became very popular. It takes great skill, and when well done, the design can take the shape of a tree trunk and crown of branches; usually both covers are given the design. When badly done, the pattern is poorly executed, and if the solution is too acidic, it will eat into the leather. Binders who were adept at the technique were sought after and often advertised their skill at tree marbling. The technique was also used on sheepskin, and in that case the proper description would be tree sheep. The term tree calf is often applied to marbled covers with random patterning where marbled leather might be more appropriate. A technique for using and engraved block to impart tree marbling on leather covers was developed in the late-nineteenth century, but the effect was considered too matte." (Miller 2014, 496)

Metalwork[edit | edit source]

Jewelled[edit | edit source]

"A term for treasure binding produced from the sixth to fourteenth century. Such bindings were actually the work of the jeweler, the goldsmith, and the silversmith who together created a gorgeous shell of a cover that was then attached to equally beautiful texts. Jeweled bindings were occasionally revived in the nineteenth century for deluxe bindings; the binding firm of Sangorski and Sutcliffe in England specialized in the style." (Miller 2014, 463)

See Magnificent Gems: Medieval Treasure Bindings via the Morgan Library for medieval examples. Description of medieval metalwork techniques can be found in Theophilus 1963.

Enameled[edit | edit source]

Champlevé[edit | edit source]

"Bindings produced between the 11th and 13th centuries. The process involved cutting designs into a thin sheet of gold or copper, which formed the cover, with cavities filled with enamel. Sometimes the enamel was limited to the decoration of borders and corners. Champlevé can be distinguished from cloisonné bindings by the irregular widths of the metal enclosing the enameled areas." (Roberts & Etherington, 52)

"Enamel bindings that were produced between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. A metal (gold or copper) sheet would have designs cut into it that would be filled with enamel; sometimes an entire cover was decorated this way, and sometimes only a border or corners were enameled. Champlevé bindings have irregular widths of metal dividing the pockets of enamel compared to cloisonné examples. See cloisonné bindings and enamel bindings. (Miller 2014, 443)

Cloisonné[edit | edit source]

"Enamelled bindings produced during the 11th century, mainly by Greek and Italian craftsmen. Cloisonné is a technique of surface decoration in porcelain enamel on metal, in which each color area is surrounded by a thin line of metal, flush with the surface of the enamel. Thin fillets of flattened wire are set on edge and soldered to the metallic base in the desired pattern. The cloisons, or cells, are then filled with a colored vitreous composition, fired, ground smooth, and polished. Cloisonné can be distinguished from champlevé bindings by the uniform thinness of the metallic lines. (Roberts & Etherington, 56)

Sculpted[edit | edit source]

Embossed[edit | edit source]

"A binding of any material that has had an artificial grain, design, or pattern blocked or embossed onto the surface using an embosser or embossing (graining) machine." (Miller 2014, 451)

Papier-mâché[edit | edit source]

"A style of novelty binding from the mid-nineteenth century that featured a sculptured cover attachment. The style was part of the Victorian Gothic revival period and meant to recall medieval woodcarving. The covers of paper pulp and plaster were cast in a metal mold, and the casts were sometimes reinforced with a metal armature. The cast was painted black and hinged to a leather spine. The covers were heavy, expensive, and inherently fragile." (Miller 2014, 476-7)

Textile[edit | edit source]

Appliqué[edit | edit source]

"A design on embroidered bindings consisting of spirals in gold and silver which, when flattened, give the appearance of a series of rings. They were sometimes used as a border. When the appliqué was not very large, a variation was to make a series of small stitches along all edges, masking the stitches with an overlaid gold cord." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 11)

"Any binding that has decorative elements added to the covers, but the term is particularly applied to the use of silver gimp, metal cut outs and spangles found on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century embroidered or silk bindings." (Miller 2014, 435)

Embroidered[edit | edit source]

17th c. English Embroidered Binding

"A style of needlework binding that appeared as early as the thirteenth century, originally as luxury bindings made for royalty, wealthy clergy or laymen, or for religious institutions. Embroidered bindings became popular as a luxury possession among the well-to-do during the first half of the seventeenth century in England and remained popular until the end of the century. The bindings are often found on small devotional works, and the fully embroidered designs are usually worked on a canvas substrate. When rich fabrics such as velvet formed the substrate, the embroidery covered smaller areas of the cover. Silk threads, pearls, and sequins were all used for the decorations. The designs are often heraldic, pictorial, or floral, and employ a variety of stitches." (Miller 2014, 451)

See also: Embroidered Bindings, online exhibit at Princeton University Library.

Velvet[edit | edit source]

Some luxury books were covered in silk velvet. The Vaux Passionale (Peniarth 482D) at the National Library of Wales is a rare example of a late 15th-century illuminated manuscript that retains its original binding of red velvet over wooden boards. This style was also used on manuscripts rebound by book dealers.

Styles of Book Decoration[edit | edit source]

Ajoure[edit | edit source]

"A style of bookbinding executed during the last third of the 15th century in Venice. Ajoure bindings were embellished with pierced or translucent patterns, in a manner referred to as 'letting in the daylight.' They generally featured openwork designs of foliage, angels' heads, satyr-masks, birds, baskets of fruits, etc." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 7)

Aldine (Italian) style[edit | edit source]

"A style of bookbinding originated by Aldus Mantius but not restricted to the books printed y Aldus or his family. Aldine bindings, which were produced during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, were characterized by the use of brown or red morocco; by solid-faced ornaments with no shading (which were similar to those used in printing the text); and by title or author in simple panels in the center of the upper cover, which could be read while the book lay on a shelf or table. Early examples of the Aldine style were tooled in blind with an outer frame and a center ornament. "Possibly because of the Greek binders Aldus employed, as well as the fact that gold tooling (probably) originated in the Near East, Aldine tools display definite signs of Eastern origin. Early Italian bindings convey a consistent feeling of the shape and proportion of the book, which is demonstrated by: 1) the use of border and panel as schemes of design; 2) a remarkable sense of the value accorded ornamentation; 3) the areas of leather left undecorated; and 4) restraint in the decorative detail with the result that it was always in proper subordination to the overall effect of the embellishment." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 8)

See also: Aldines at Princeton University Library.

All over design[edit | edit source]

"1. A style of finishing in which the entire cover, as distinct from the corners, center or borders, is decorated by a single motif, multiple motifs, or a decorative roll. 2. Any pattern in a book cloth which runs both across and down the roll. " (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 8)

"A binding decorated so profusely that it is literally covered 'allover' with ornamentation." (Miller 2014, 434)

Alla rustica binding[edit | edit source]

"A paper binding, essentially a paper case binding, used on Italian and Spanish books from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century." (Miller 2014, 434)

Anabaptist[edit | edit source]

Metzger 2020.

Antique[edit | edit source]

"A modern binding executed in the style of some earlier period, but generally with no intent to deceive." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 10)

Arabesque[edit | edit source]

"A relatively old form of book decoration, revived by French gilders and reintroduced into England in about 1829. It consists of interlaced lines and convoluted curves arranged in a more or less geometrical pattern. The name derives from the fact that it was brought to its highest perfection by Near Eastern artists. The term is also used to describe a style of ornamentation in relief, consisting of fanciful human or animal figures combined with floral forms. Arabesque is also sometimes inappropriately applied to the embossed designs on book covers." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 11)

Architectural[edit | edit source]

"A 16th century style of finishing consisting of architectural motifs—porticoes, moldings, columns, pediments, arches, and the like. The central feature was a pair of columns supporting an arch under which there was a panel for lettering of the title. This style, of which only a relatively few examples have survived, generally emphasized straight and curved fillets, interspaced with shaped tools. The 19th century French bookbinder Joseph Thouvenin revived the style as 'a la cathedral.' See: cathedral bindings. The contents of the books bound in the architectural style seldom related to architecture." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 11)

Armorial[edit | edit source]

"Leather or cloth bindings embossed with armorial seals or plaques, frequently in a panel, or embroidered bindings in which the arms were raised in relief and worked in thread." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 12)

Art nouveau[edit | edit source]

"The term used to describe a fluid, rounded style of decorating bindings using the soft color palette, and the floral and pictorial motifs associated with Art Nouveau design, early Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris, and the Bloomsbury Circle." (Miller 2014, 435)

Azured or hatched motifs[edit | edit source]

Bindings decorated with an azured tool, which has "closely spaced parallel lines cut diagonally across its surface". (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 13)

"An obsolete term for a decorative tool with parallel lines cut across the face to create a shaded or hatched effect; in heraldic designs, the azured areas represent 'blue'." (Miller 2014, 436)

Backless[edit | edit source]

"A style of novelty binding where all four edges of the textblock are visible and available for decoration. The style was accomplished by sewing on tapes and the spine lined and decorated, or stab-sewing the text and cutting off the spine folds, leaving a fourth edge for gilding or other decoration. The style was associated with Richard Balley in England, active from the 1680s to around 1711." (Miller 2014, 436)

Bedford style[edit | edit source]

"Hand-stained bindings produced from a leather sometimes referred to as "fair calf" (a bark tanned calfskin), washed over frequently with a weak solution of potassium carbonate (K 2 CO 3 ), and exposed to light. The staining process took as long as 6 months. In addition to the potassium carbonate, copperas (ferrous sulfate—FeSO 4 ), also known as "green vitroil," was used to produce a particular effect. The carbonate gave a warm brown-toned sprinkle, the sulfate gave a gray, and the two together gave a black." (Roberts & Etherington 1982, 20)

Bradel[edit | edit source]

A type of binding that originated in Germany with the shop of Alexis Pierre Bradel. Characterized by a hollow back, similar to a library binding, and generally having split boards that were attached to the text block by a cloth spine lining. Many bindings "a la Bradel" are quarter bound with cloth or leather spine and paper sides.

"A style of temporary binding developed in Germany, where the flanges of a spine lining cloth is inserted into a split in each board along the spine edge; then a leather or linen cover is attached; the book has a hollow back. The style is similar to the lapped-component case binding also developed in Germany, where the flanges of a custom-fitted paper spine piece is adhered to the inside of the boards before the cover of vellum, leather, cloth, or decorated paper is attached." (Miller 2014, 440)

Cambridge[edit | edit source]

"An English style of bookbinding practiced largely on theological works and in university libraries. Although used elsewhere, the style was so highly favored by binders in Cambridge in the early years of the 18th century that it became recognized as their speciality, which probably accounts for the name. Books bound in this style were sewn on raised cords, covered in calfskin that was masked and sprinkled in such a manner as to leave a stained central rectangular panel, a plain rectangular frame, which, in turn, was surrounded by a stained outside frame. The books had Dutch marble endpapers and red edges. The spine was pieced with red russia leather labels and had double blind lines at head and tail on each side of the raised bands. The covers were decorated with a two-line fillet close to the edges and on each side of the panel. and with a narrow flower roll worked on each side of the panel close to the lines. There were many variations of this style, including some books tooled in gold, and some with marbled covers and sprinkled panels." (Roberts & Etherington, 45)

Cambridge style in leather

Cambridge style done in paper

Another variant of the Cambridge style done in leather

Cameo[edit | edit source]

"A style of Italian binding of the first half of the 16th century, which was imitated by French binders and also by Roger Payne at a later date. The style consisted of designs in relief made from dies cut intaglio, somewhat in imitation of gems or metals. Leather was the medium most often used, although vellum was also used, being pressed while wet on the die, and with the cavities being filled with a composition of lacquered paste to preserve the shape of the figures. After being attached to the center of the leather cover, they were sometimes gilt and painted. Cameo bindings were a development of the antiquarian interest in classical coins and gems, actual examples of which at first provided the sources of the molds. French examples executed for Henri 11 and Jean Grolier bore a central medallion stamped with an intaglio cut die. The design was embossed on a gilded and colored background". (Roberts & Etherington, 45)

"Cameo bindings originated in Italy in the sixteenth century and reflected the Renaissance interest in classical antiquities, particularly coins and carved gems. Actual cameos were sometimes inlaid into leather covers, but usually, the cameo was cut into a stamp and pressed in relief into leather or vellum pieces that were then inlaid, sometimes painted or gilded. The practice of inlaying portrait heads or figures continued periodically throughout the history of binding through the nineteenth century. Notable early cameo bindings include the Apollo and Pegasus bindings of the sixteenth century, bound for Giovanni Battista Grimaldi." See medallion binding. (Miller 2014, 441)

Canterbury[edit | edit source]

"a group of 15th century bindings (of which some ten survive) probably made in the monastery of Canterbury. The main decorative feature of the front panel was a circle, or two interlaced squares, filled with repetitions of a small tool; a feature probably deriving from Italy." ( Glaister, 82)

Carolingian[edit | edit source]

"The earliest surviving Carolingian bindings are German and French with a few survivals in other European countries. They date from the eighth century and are distinguished by the universal use of sewing supports in conjunction with herringbone sewing. Other features include wooden boards, usually oak and often quarter sawn, the edges cut square or sometimes slightly beveled, with tunnel and channel board preparation to receive the lacing of the ends of sewing supports. The books often have vellum pastedowns. The endbands are sewn in a simple linking style, without a support core, across the head and tail of the spine." (Miller 2014, 442)

Cathedral[edit | edit source]

"Bookbindings executed between about 1810 and approximately 1840 in England and France. The name derives from the motifs of the embellishment, e.g., Gothic architecture, rose windows, and the like. The design was either blocked on the cover, as in France, or built up by means of separate tools, as in England. The cathedral style was a revival of the 16th century architectural style by the 19th century binder Joseph Thouvenin." (Roberts & Etherington, 49)

Center and Corner binding[edit | edit source]

Also called a centerpiece and cornerpiece binding. This term was first used by Howard Nixon to describe a style consisting of an abstract center piece - either oval, circle, or lozenge shaped - made of one stamp and four corner pieces - large ornaments that sat at the corners of the frame. The designs are always symmetrical both vertically and horizontally and the stamps were often arabesque and intricate. This design is derived from early Islamic and Eastern styles. Roberts and Etherington note that the style was popular in England and on the Continent from 1580 to 1620, whereas Miller states that the style remained popular in the west until the nineteenth century. (Roberts & Etherington, 50) (Miller 2014, 443)

Chapbook[edit | edit source]

"A name given to small pamphlets, which dates from at least the fifteenth century. Chapbooks often relied on woodcut images more than words to transmit ideas and are associated with religious and political themes, as well as being a popular format for fairytales, ballads, and moral self-improvement stories intended for children. Chapbooks were sold by chapmen (colporteurs) who carried all sorts of notions in addition to booklets. The use of the format ended around 1830, although numerous books continued to be called "chapbooks." (Miller 2014, 444)

Chippendale[edit | edit source]

"A style of book decoration, where the books were generally covered in red morocco, and were tooled in gold with elaborate rococo borders of swirls and acanthus leaves enclosing areas dispersed with meshes of dotted lines. Incorporated in all this were various figured tools, including dancing angels, trumpeters, doves, fruit, musicians, swooping phoenixes, etc." (Roberts & Etherington, 53)

Chinese Chippendale[edit | edit source]

"A class of chippendale bindings. These bindings were generally covered in red morocco, and were tooled in gold with designs representing "Chinese" motifs and symbols, following the vogue represented in the decorative arts of the mid-18th century. The bindings often featured rococo frames made up of recurving and serrated motifs forming irregular compartments and perches for beehives with bees in flight, boats, Chinese archers and spearmen, columns and pilasters, doves, flowers, grapes and other fruit, horses rising from the sea, lions supporting shields, phoenixes, etc." (Roberts & Etherington, 53)

Colonial North American (Scottish)[edit | edit source]

A group of books described in an article by Hannah French. This example is a 'wheel' design and has distinctive tools including acorns, six-pointed stars, and an 'egg and cross" border roll. (1983).

Cosway[edit | edit source]

"Leather bookbindings produced in the usual manner, except that they have miniature paintings inset into their covers. They are named after Richard Cosway (c 1742-1821), the English miniaturist. Cosway actually had nothing to do with the execution of these bindings, as they were not introduced until early in the 20th century. They were probably the invention of the firm of Henry Sotheran. booksellers, or their manager, J. Harrison Stonehouse. The books were bound by Robert Rivière, in good quality Levant morocco, with morocco joints, watered-silk linings, and the miniatures painted on ivory, glazed, and insetted in the covers." (Roberts & Etherington, 66)

"Early twentieth-century leather bindings, usually bound by Robert Rivière, with miniature paintings on ivory set into their covers. The style is named for the English miniaturist Edward Cosway (ca. 1742-1821), although he was dead before the style came into use." (Miller 2014, 447)

Cottage[edit | edit source]

"A style of book decoration in which the top and bottom of a center rectangular panel slope away from a broken center, producing a kind of gabled effect. The spaces are filled in, at times, with French sprays and branches in combination with lacework, and sometimes with the same small tools used in the fan ornament. Although this style of decoration may have originated in France, perhaps as early as 1630, it is most characteristic of English binding of the late 17th century (c 1660) to about 1710. The style was still being used on pocket almanacs and devotional books as late as, or even later than, 1822." (Roberts & Etherington, 66)

"A style of binding most closely associated with England in the late-seventeenth into the eighteenth century, although it was used in Ireland as well. The style persisted into the first quarter of the nineteenth century for almanacs and some devotional works. The basis of the name was the use of a broken or unbroken roof line at the top and bottom of the design area of a cover. Usually the cover was almost filled with the built-up designs including teardrop shapes, arabesques, dots, and hanging sprays of built up foliage descending and ascending from the roof corners. Also called cottage-roof binnding. (Miller 2014, 447)

"Cottonian" Library cloth cover[edit | edit source]

"Bindings from the library of English poet Robert Southey that were covered by his daughters and their friends in chintz cloth jackets with a neatly lettered label. The practice of covering bindings in the home with a secondary cloth cover was widespread in the eighteenth and nineteenth century." (Miller 2014, 447)

Curtain[edit | edit source]

"a distinctive style of book cover decoration, particular to Spain, and apparently limited to the years 1814-33, although it was used in 1849 by Tomás Cobo. Fillets and gouges were used to tool patterns which simulated a draped curtain or pair of curtains. The design on upper and lower cover was not always the same. Curtains onlaid or inlaid in leathers of contrasting colours and also acid staining were used. They were in questionable taste, set no fashion, and scarcely rank as major bindings." (Glaister 1996, 124)

Dentelle[edit | edit source]

"An 18th century style of book decoration, usually in gold, consisting of a combination of elliptical scrolls of slightly shaded leafy character joined to clusters and horders of great richness, resembling lace, and pointing toward the center of the cover. Antoine Michel Padeloup has often been credited with the introduction of the dentelle style, which actually took its inspiration from embroidery and the decorative arts rather than lace. Of the many binders who used this technique, the most notable were the Deromes and Pierre-Paul Dubuisson." (Roberts & Etherington, 75)

"Dentelle is a French term for lacy and is applied to bindings that have a wide border of filigree tooling, usually in gold around the boards. The effect can be achieved with rolls or built-up with small tools, or the combination. Dentelle bindings have an undulating inner edge usually brought to points going towards the center of the cover. The style is reminiscent of Islamic center-and-cornerpiece. The great binder Antoine Michel Padeloup (1685-1758) is credited with introducing the dentelle, and the Derome and Dubuisson buinding families are the most famous of the many who copied the style." (Miller 2014, 449)

An example of a dentelle style binding can be found on the National Library of Sweden's Flickr page.

Derome[edit | edit source]

"A style of book decoration practiced by the Derome family of France in the 18th century. The most famous of the family was Nicolas Denis Derome (active 1761-c 1789)—Derome le juene—who was also known the the "great cropper" because of his tendency to trim excessively. Nicolas Derome also used sawn-in cords in order to obtain the hollow back which prevents the spine of the book from flexing and thus possibly cracking the gold. He also achieved great fame by his use of the DENTELLE border, taking the dentelles of Padeloup as models. His also are made up of dentelle tools in combination, rather than in repetition, and are represented by symmetrical corner tooling of a very richly engraved floriated scroll work. An essential feature in Nicolas Derome's finest dentelles is a small bird with outstretched wings." (Roberts & Etherington, 75)

Diaper[edit | edit source]

"1. A gold- or blind-tooled decorative pattern, consisting of a motif constantly repeated in geometric form. The pattern may consist of figures such as diamonds, lozenges, or flowers, separated only by background. or by constantly repeating compartments, each filled with designs. 2. A publisher's cloth with a cross-hatched effect of minute lozenges or squares. Diaper cloths were popular in the late 1830s and 1840s, and have remained standard patterns on fabrics in one form or another ever since. 3. The uniformly patterned background for pictorial scenes in illuminated manuscripts. Its extensive use dates from the latter part of the 13th century." (Roberts & Etherington, 76)

"An allover, diamond-shaped pattern, small or large, that forms part of a binding design. Diaper patterns have adorned bindings from the middle of the first millennium." (Miller 2014, 449)

Diced[edit | edit source]

"1. The decorated cover of a book tooled with cubes or diamonds. RUSSIA LEATHER is often "diced" and diced calf has been used frequently since the first quarter of the 19th century. 2. A pattern ruled or embossed in leather in the form of diamond squares. 3. A pattern in publishers' book cloth, in the form of a bold diamond, popular between 1835 and 1845." (Roberts & Etherington, 76)

"The use of dicing, tooling on the diagonal, to create an all-over pattern of small diamonds on a leather binding. Diced calf was especially popular from the first quarter of the nineteenth century; the smooth leather took the dicing easily and was attractive. Cloth for bindings in the nineteenth century was also given a small diced grain, a popular pattern." (Miller 2014, 449)

Divinity calf[edit | edit source]

"1. A plain, drab, khaki-colored calfskin binding, popular in the mid-19th century for theological and devotional books. The style was particularly popular in the rebinding of books of an earlier time. The bindings were tooled in blind with single lines terminating in OXFORD CORNERS . The style sometimes also featured beveled boards and red edges. Sometimes called "Oxford style." 2. A leather used principally for the inside cover linings of limp leather prayer books and small Bibles." (Roberts & Etherington, 78)

Drawer handle tool[edit | edit source]

Example 1

Example 2

Duodo[edit | edit source]

"A style of binding that carries an allover design of small, leafy ovals with flowers in the center and, sometimes, a coat of arms in the central oval of the group. It was a style favored by and named for Pietro Duodo, Venetian ambassador to Henry IV of France, who had a number of the bindings made for him by Parisian binders from 1594 to 1597." (Miller 2014, 450)

Edwards of Halifax[edit | edit source]

"a distinguished Yorkshire family of binders and booksellers. William Edwards (1773-1808) founded the Halifax firm by 1755. He was noted for fore-edge paintings and Etruscan bindings, qq.v. He used vellum to cover books, and he decorated these with painted portraits or scenes. To make them durable he has the idea of using pearl ash to make the vellum transparent, and the painting was done underneath. Patent No. 1462 was taken out by his son James in 1785 for 'my said new invention of Embellishing books bound in vellum, by making drawings on the vellum which are not liable to be defaced but by destroying the vellum itself. . . . Copper plates may also be impressed so as to have a similar effect.' " (Glaister 1996, 154)

Etruscan[edit | edit source]

"A decorative style popular from around 1775 to 1820 that combined the warm brown and terra-cotta colors of calf with tree marbling, and black- and gold-tooled borders incorporating classical motifs. See neoclassical binding." (Miller 2014, 452)

Example 1

Example 2

Fan[edit | edit source]

"A fan binding is any binding that has at least a quarter part of a fan used as part of its decoration. Some bindings only have quarter fans at the corners, or quarter fans combined with a full-wheel design in the center of the cover. Cortina bindings can also be considered fan bindings. See cortina bindings, Scottish wheel bindings, Scottish fan bindings and wheel-and-fan bindings. (Miller 2014, 453-4)

Fanfare[edit | edit source]

"An elaborate style of decoration consisting generally of geometrically formed compartments of varying sizes, each bounded by a ribbon consisting of a single fillet on one side and a double fillet on the other, each of which, with the exception of the center compartment (which is larger or otherwise distinguished), being filled with leafy spirals, branches of laurel, and other sprays, floral tools, rare in the last fifty years or so. See and the like. Fanfare was a rich and luxurious style and called for the greatest skill on the part of the bookbinder. It was imitated, with varying degrees of fidelity, throughout Europe from about 1570 until well into the 17th century, although its elements were largely imitative of previous styles of embellishment. Originally, the style was attributed exclusively to Nicholas and Clovis Ève, but it is more likely that a number of Parisian finishers executed many of these binding. The name "fanfare," which originated long after the style was first executed, derives from a binding of the 19th century binder, Joseph Thouvenin , who revived the style on a volume he bound in 1829, Les Fanfares et Corvees abbadesques." (Roberts & Etherington, 96-97)

An example of a fanfare style binding is available on the National Library of Sweden's Flickr page.

Fonthill[edit | edit source]

"A distinctive style of binding associated with Fonthill Abbey in England in the late eighteenth century. Features of bindings in the collection include: sewn on raised cords, half bindings of olive-brown goatskin with marbled-paper sides, lettered and dated on the spines, marbled endpapers, and head edges gilt." (Miller 2014, 455-6)

French 17th century[edit | edit source]

German (1479)[edit | edit source]

Girdle book[edit | edit source]

"A book which has an extra protective covering of soft leather made in such a manner that the book can be hung from the girdle or habit cord of a cleric and swung upward for reading while still attached to the girdle or cord. Doeskin and deerskin were frequently employed for this type of binding, which was used in the middle ages and early Renaissance, especially in Germany. Devotional books or didactic works, or professional reference books, e.g., law books, were most often bound in this manner, and the bindings were almost quite unpretentious. Very elegant bindings, however, were produced in velvet and brocade, to protect illuminated prayer books. Few intact girdle books have survived, as the overlapping leather was usually cut off for reuse when the need for protection had passed. Also called 'utilitarian protective bindings.' " (Roberts & Etherington, 116)

See also:

Smith, Margit J. 2014. "The Medieval Girdle Book: A Constant Companion." Edited by M. J. Driscoll. Care and Conservation of Manuscripts 14: 195–212.

Golden Fleece motif[edit | edit source]

"A binding that is decorated with a Golden-Fleece tool (a ram's fleece suspended by a rope) in gold, often at the four corners of the boards, in the center of the boards, or in each spine compartment." (Miller 2014, 459)

Gothic[edit | edit source]

"A term to describe the dominant binding style in the West from the thirteenth century until the seventeenth century, and in some countries, even later. Elements of the bindings include: parchment or paper text blocks sewn on raised supports laced over into beveled wooden boards that are often covered in alum-tawed skin and decorated with blind tooling and panel stamping." (Miller 2014, 459)

Greek style[edit | edit source]

"The style is descended from Coptic binding structure and style, and in turn spread into areas that fell under Byzantine rule. Greek binding incorporated the following elements: notched sections, recessed unsupported-link sewing, flush wooden boards that often had grooved edges, rounded, smooth spines lined with cloth, chevron endbands that continued onto the board shoulders, red or brown goatskin of calf, tongue-style corner turn-ins, blind tooled, braid and pin fastenings, bosses, and decorated edges." (Miller 2014, 459)

Grolier and Grolieresque[edit | edit source]

"The 16th century bibliophile, Jean Grolier de Servin, vicomte d'aquisy. Although Jean Grolier is regarded correctly as a French bibliophile, the bindings executed for him were essentially Italian in their principles of design. Grolier possessed one of the finest private libraries of his time (and possibly any other time), consisting of some 3,000 volumes contained within bindings of superlative richness and beauty.

"Grolier lived in Italy, with only a few interruptions, between 1510 and about 1525, and, while there, became the friend of the celebrated printer, Aldus Manutius. It is said that in appreciation of Grolier's friendship and financial assistance, Aldus printed several copies on vellum or large paper for Grolier, several of which were dedicated to him. / Grolier is believed to have patronized several binders over the years he collected, including Claude de Picques, and the so-called fleur-de-lis and cupid's bow binders.

"The books which Grolier acquired in his early years (including many of his Aldine volumes) possess the distinguishing characteristics of Italian binding of the time he lived in Italy. / The Grolier bindings, the designs of which have been imitated more than those of any other style, with the possible exception of the pointillé bindings, are usually classified into two distinct groups: 1) those executed expressly for him; and 2) those bound before he acquired them either through purchase or gift. Although the bindings executed for Grolier are distinctly similar in style, they vary considerably in their ornamentation. The designs generally consist of a geometrical pattern, occasionally colored, combined with arabesque work, which is solid, azured, or only outlined. On some of his bindings, however, the geometrical pattern has no arabesques, while in others the arabesque work is found without the geometrical design. Nearly all of the books of the first class, as well as many of those of the second, include the altruistic inscription, lo. Grolierii et Amicorvm (of Jean Grolier and his friends), usually at the tail edge of the upper cover, which he apparently borrowed from his contemporary, Mahieu. Both covers of most of Grolier's bindings feature a central compartment, usually containing the title of the book on the upper cover, and the expression Portia Mea, Domine, Sit in Terra Vivetivm (Let my portion, O Lord. be in the land of the living), on the lower cover. Other legends also at times appear on his bindings.

"Grolier's signature, or his motto, with several slight variations, is frequently found in his own hand inside the books he collected before about 1536. This was usually written at the back.

"There are two distinct features to Grolier's bindings which were not consistently practiced by other contemporary collectors: 1) the pastedowns are vellum, followed by two conjugate white paper flyleaves, which are followed by a vellum leaf conjugate with the pastedown, which is followed by a final conjugate pair of paper leaves; and 2) the edges are gilt but not gauffered or otherwise further embellished." (Roberts & Etherington, 123)

See also British Museum 1965.

Harlein[edit | edit source]

"A style of English decorated binding that appeared around 1720, originally used for bindings in the library of Robert Harley and his son. The bindings are of red goatskin, gold tooled with a triple fillet line run around the covers, a broad decorative border tooled inside that, and a centerpiece built up with small ornamental tools." (Miller 2014, 460)

Hollis[edit | edit source]

"Bindings that were made for philanthropist Thomas Hollis in the eighteenth century. The books were works on the theme of liberty, and Hollis had them made as presentation copies for libraries. The bindings were decorated with emblematic tools such as the figure of Britannia or Liberty." (Miller 2014, 461)

Jansenist[edit | edit source]

"The Jansenists were a society devoted to the ideals of personal holiness and austerity, and the late-seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century bindings named for them had plain covers but, often surprisingly, elaborately tooled doublures." (Miller 2014, 463)

Lace[edit | edit source]

"A style of embellishment of leather bindings introduced in France in the 18th century. The border in use in the 17th century was enlarged until it became the predominant element of the design, so much so that often only space for an armorial shield was left. Edges, which formerly had been straight, were now tooled in a wavy pattern, thus giving a "lacy" effect at times described as "à la dentelle," but actually looking more like the wrought ironwork of fancy balconies and gates. The style was very popular and was used by many bookbinders and gilders.including the Derome family and Pierre-Paul Dubisson, who used metal plates instead of tools,so as to be able to block the design and thus increase production. " (Roberts & Etherington, 148)

Law binding[edit | edit source]

"A term applied to a binding style that became fairly standard around 1830 for law books consisting of a full-leather binding of light-colored sheepskin with laced-on boards, and red- and black-leather lettering pieces blocked in gold on the spine. A similar style of case binding for law books, with tan buckram and the same style of lettering, succeeded the leather version." (Miller 2014, 466)

Law calf[edit | edit source]

"1. A general term applied to an uncolored calfskin. 2. A cream-colored vegetable-tanned calfskin with a smooth grain surface, at one time used in covering the better grades of law books, but now largely superseded by buckram. Also called "fair calf," and, incorrectly, law sheep." (Roberts & Etherington, 151)

Library Style[edit | edit source]

"A book that is sewn through the folds, usually on (four) tapes but sometimes on the same number of cords, and has split boards, a leather spine with vellum tips, cloth or paper sides, and French joints. The term is now obsolete." (Roberts & Etherington, 158)

Macabre, funerary motifs[edit | edit source]

"A somber style of binding made for Henri III decorated with symbols of mortality such as skeletons, skulls, and crossbones. Similar bindings were made for adherents of a society founded by Henri III are called penitential bindings. (Miller 2014, 469)

Masonic[edit | edit source]

"A binding on a Masonic text that is decorated with emblems derived from Masonic symbols; examples include English Masonic leather bindings of the eighteenth century and American Masonic bindings of the nineteenth century." (Miller 2014, 470)

Mauchline[edit | edit source]

"A style of novelty binding associated with the eponymous town (pronounced Moch'lin) in Scotland where a line of Mauchline-ware was produced for tourists to the region, as well as widely exported to the rest of Britain and around the world. The Scottish ware bears scenes from the area, often combined with portraits or other references to the poet Robert Burns. The Mauchline manufacturers carried on a flourishing trade making souvenirs for tourist sites outside of Scotland, included wooden covered notebooks with transfer scenes of Mt. Washington for tourists viewing New Hampshire. Mauchline bindings usually have leather or cloth spines and sycamore wooden boards decorated in a variety of styles including fern ware, tartan ware, transfer ware, photographic ware, and black lacquer ware, finished with several coats of copal varnish." (Miller 2014, 470)

Mirror[edit | edit source]

"A Danish style of decorating leather bindings in the eighteenth century that featured a heavily gilt spine, covers with a dark, marbled central panel, a gold-tooled frame, and a lighter area around the central frame bordered by blind tooling - in effect a version of a panel binding." (Miller 2014, 471)

Monastic[edit | edit source]

"Broadly, in terms of early bindings, any of the sturdy plain bindings made in a monastery from the sixth to the twelfth century. The term is also used to refer to some blind-tooled bindings in northern Europe in the fifteenth century. The term was used during the second half of the nineteenth century, when bindings on devotional works were called monastic, and also referred to as antique, divinity, or ecclesiastical bindings. (Miller 2014, 471)

Mudéjar[edit | edit source]

"Bindings produced in Spain by Muslim binders who remained there after the Christian re-conquest of the thirteenth century. The bindings have wooden boards or pasteboards, and are covered in Cordovan leather, a non-porous, dense leather with good wearing characteristics made from horse butt. The early bindings are decorated in blind with rope interlacing and a background fill of dots and small tools; later bindings combined blind and gold tooling. A variation on the style, called gótico-mudéjar, was made in northern Spain with a decorative layout based on Gothic binding decorations but executed with mudéjar-style tools." (Miller 2014, 472)

Neoclassical[edit | edit source]

"Bindings from the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-centuries that are decorated with tooling that draws on classical motifs, including urns, cornucopia, palm leaves, acanthus leaves, Greek-key patterns and so on. See Etruscan calf binding. (Miller 2014, 472)

Panel[edit | edit source]

"A decorative style where single, double, or triple lines were tooled on a cover to form a single panel frame, an asymmetric panel, or a series of concentric frames. The simple single panel frame and the asymmetrical panel were common on bindings in the seventeenth century. Asymmetrical panel bindings had the panel frame bordering the covers, but also had one or more lines tooled along the spine edge of the binding, offset an inch or two from the border lines. Another version has a panel frame border with a decorative roll run only along the spine edge of the covers. The concentric panel frame style, also known as a Cambridge panel or Cambridge calf or simply a panel binding, appeared in the second half of the seventeenth century and were in use on English bindings until 1720, and on American colonial bindings until mid-century. In the case of concentric frames, the central rectangle, or that and the outermost frame, might be sprinkled or stained or mottled; the middle frame was almost always left undecorated except for plain or decorative mitre lines or cat's paw mottling. The panel styles described above were almost always tooled in blind and were used on cheaper grades of binding that were usually unlettered but might have sprinkled edges and worked endbands. There are many variations of the style, however, including bindings that carried both blind and gold tooling and extra bindings with only gold lines and decorative rolls. The plain concentric style was translated into a deluxe extra binding at the end of the eighteenth and into the nineteenth century, tooled in gold with the spine gilt, marbled endpapers, decorated or gilt edges, and worked headbands. See Cambridge-calf binding." (Miller 2014, 475-6)

Panel stamped[edit | edit source]

"A binding decorated with a large panel stamp. The use of panel stamps succeeded the earlier use of smaller, individual stamps that were time consuming to use." (Miller 2014, 476)

Pastiche[edit | edit source]

"A term used for a binding that is decorated in a style that imitates an earlier style. See retrospective binding. (Miller 2014, 478)

Pictorial[edit | edit source]

"A term that refers to publishers' bindings of the nineteenth century that have covers of paper or cloth decorated with pictures." (Miller 2014, 478)

Pieced-paper[edit | edit source]

"A term to describe the practice of piecing together decorated papers such as marbled papers to form wrappers or endpapers, an example of the thrifty use of scrap, common in the eighteenth century." (Miller 2014, 478)

Plain-style, Plain-leather[edit | edit source]

"An undecorated binding or one that has a minimal amount of decoration, such as rolled edges or blind or gold lines tooled across the spine but no lettering." (Miller 2014, 478)

Pointillé[edit | edit source]

"Another term for a binding decorated with fine dots or dotted stamps. See pinhead binding." (Miller 2014, 479)

Poker-work[edit | edit source]

"A style of decorating a binding that was used by mostly amateur binders during the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late nineteenth century in England and America. The method involved burning designs into leather with heated pokers or tools heated with electricity." (Miller 2014, 479)

Prize Binding[edit | edit source]

"A binding that is usually decorated with gold tooling or stamping, often of calf with a gilt spine, a gold-fillet border on the covers, and decorated edges. The books were intended as a prize for school achievement, are inscribed to the recipient, and often the covers are stamped with the insignia of the awarding school or college. See school-prize binding." (Miller 2014, 480)

Rectangular-style[edit | edit source]

"A binding style that is generally attributed to Samuel Mearne. The style consists of a three-line gilt border with a crown at each corner, sometimes combined with a decorative roll on the inside of the border in blind. Dark-red goatskin (morocco) was usual, but the style was also used on calf and goatskin." (Miller 2014, 482)

Restoration[edit | edit source]

"The forty-year period, 1660-1700, that followed the restoration of Charles II to the throne of England is considered to be a high point of English binding. The work done in the bindery of Samuel Mearne, the Court binder, is well known. Mottled calf was popular, as were somber bindings and gorgeous rectangular bindings." (Miller 2014, 483)

Ribbon-embossed[edit | edit source]

"A technique used in the 1830s to decorate cloth for bindings by putting it through the embossing rollers used by ribbon makers. Usually the cloth decorated in this fashion has a raised, or tapestry surface, because two embossing rolls (male and female dies) are used. When only one roll is used, the surface is flat but the design is still visible, though much less so." (Miller 2014, 483)

Romanesque[edit | edit source]

"A binding dating from the twelfth or thirteenth century, often bound in brown leather and decorated with metal stamps often engraved with images of beasts. Approximately one hundred of these bindings are known to have survived. They are believed to have been produced by a small number of monasteries in France, England, and Germany." (Miller 2014, 483)

Romantic[edit | edit source]

"The decorative style on some fine leather bindings of the nineteenth century between 1830 and 1860. The style was ornate, but in a restrained way, with cirlicues in a rectangular format on the covers." (Miller 2014, 483)

Romantique-cartonnage[edit | edit source]

"The term used for pressed-paper bindings of the nineteenth century with glossy, colorful papers combined with gold or silvery leaf or foil. The covers often has chromolithographs of poetic scenes set into the covers. Many were produced by Mame et Cie of Tours, France." (Miller 2014, 483-4)

Roxburghe[edit | edit source]

"A style of quarter binding originally designed for publications of the Roxburghe Club in England. The style consists of flat, smooth spines covered in green or brown calf with dark-red cloth or paper sides. The books are lettered at the head of the book in gilt, the top edge of the text is trimmed and gilt, and the other edges are left rough." (Miller 2014, 484)

Royal binding[edit | edit source]

"A binding that carried a sovereign's coat of arms on the cover(s). The presence of such arms does not relate to any link to a royal collection since it was the habit of English bookbinders from at least the sixteenth century and until well into the nineteenth century to use royal arms as decoration." (Miller 2014, 484)

Roycroft[edit | edit source]

"The Roycroft Bindery of East Aurora, New York, produced many bindings in leather and paper. The style identified with a Roycroft binding is a textblock that is not backed, with a flexible leather or paper cover glued to a lined spine, lacking turn-ins, but extending beyond the edges of the text block. Some of the covers were attached by cords laced through holes pierced along the spine edge of the text block. Limp suede or chamois leather covers - often called "ooze" leather by Roycroft historians and collectors - were common, lettered in blind and sometimes combined with a small pictorial embossed area. Model-leather decorations were also common. In addition to these bindings made by the thousands for each title, unique, high-quality were also done by Roycroft binders, especially Louis Kinder, Peter Franck, Sterling Lord, and Charles Youngers." (Miller 2014, 484)

Sacred-monogram[edit | edit source]

"Another term for a Masonic binding or other devotional binding bearing the abbreviation for the monogram of Jesus in Greek, 'I.H.S.' " (Miller 2014, 485)

Scottish-herringbone[edit | edit source]

"A distinctive Scottish decorative style of the eighteenth century associated with Edinburgh binders. The style was vertical and consisted of decorative rolled boards, a central stem with paisley shapes springing from it to form the herringbone, enclosed with a border of large heart shapes or flattened leaves, and a fill of small ornamental tools around the central motif. The spine panels were usually decorated with a St. Andrew's Cross, the cross compartments filled with small ornaments. The endpapers of herringbone bindings were often Augsburg or Dutch gilt papers." (Miller 2014, 486)

Scottish-wheel binding[edit | edit source]

"A binding design of the eighteenth century associated with Edinburgh binders incorporating a large wheel resembling a fully opened fan combined with quarter fans as cornerpieces, the areas between filled with sprays of foliage and small ornamental tools. The style was inspired by European fan bindings of the seventeenth century." (Miller 2014, 486)

Semis[edit | edit source]

Also spelled: semé, semeé

"An heraldic term indicating a form of decoration consisting of a scattered (sown) pattern of diminutive figures—flowers, leaves, sprays, etc., often repeated at regular intervals by means of one, two, or three small tools, resulting in a sort of powdered effect. Sometimes a coat of arms, or other vignette, is added in the center of the cover, or at the corners. There may also be a tooled fillet around the edges of the cover. Early examples of this style date from 1560 on books bound for Charles IX of France." (Roberts & Etherington, 228)

An example of a binding with au semé decoration can be found on the National Library of Sweden's Flickr page.

Settle[edit | edit source]

"A binding either bound or commissioned to be bound by Elkanah Settle, a playwright and poet active in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries in England, who composed topical poems and used a public-relations trick to distribute them. Settle bindings were leather with the arms of a likely patron stamped on the cover. If the prospective patron refused the honor to purchasing the work, Settle would have the arms covered with leather and try again with the arms of another potential client." (Miller 2014, 486)

Sombre[edit | edit source]

"A binding usually executed in black goatskin, black velvet or some other black cloth. The bindings might be tooled in blind with black text edges. The style was popular for devotional works used by clergy when consoling mourners or bought by mourners themselves. The style appeared in the late-seventeenth century and remained in use into the eighteenth century. The blind tooling of leather somber bindings usually filled the cover and involved the use of areas of thin, parallel lines to create hatching, scallop patterns, and the use of small ornamental tools and decorative rolls." (Miller 2014, 490)

Strapwork[edit | edit source]

"A binding decorated with a pattern of interlaced double lines, usually in a geometrical design." (Miller 2014, 492) See British Museum 1965 for a catalog from Jean Grolier's collection with many examples.

Terms: entrelac (Fr); entrelac avec mosaïque (Fr; with onlay)

Sunken-panel[edit | edit source]

"A binding with cover boards of extra thickness because one or more layers of the board laminate with die-cut to create a sunken panel or depression. This was a popular style for cloth and leather gift books of the 1850s." (Miller 2014, 493)

Tease binding[edit | edit source]

"The English term of puzzle books in decorated bindings made from the sixteenth century onwards. The puzzle lay in the proper opening of the binding. There are examples of six-fold, rectangular, backless bindings containing six texts accessed by different openings of the text block. The style was also made with round or heart-shaped text blocks. The dos-á-dos bindings were also considered puzzle or tease books. The German term for the style is Vexierbücher, and the French is reliuer à surprise." (Miller 2014, 495)

Trade binding[edit | edit source]

"The term used for plain bindings, usually unlettered, made with limp vellum, calf, or sheepskin, and bound before being sold retail or wholesale by booksellers form the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. They can be compared to the publisher's cloth bindings of the nineteenth century." (Miller 2014, 496)

Treasure[edit | edit source]

"Early luxury bindings decorated in precious metals, enamel, ivory, and precious or semi-precious stones. Such bindings were usually created for expensive liturgical manuscripts and were usually the production of the gold- and silversmiths and the jeweler than the bookbinder." (Miller 2014, 496)

Medieval metal working techniques are described in the 12th century manual On Divers Arts by Theophilus, Hawthorne, and Smith (1979).

See Magnificent Gems: Medieval Treasure Bindings via the Morgan Library for medieval examples.

References[edit | edit source]

French, Hannah D. 1983 (1957). "Scottish-American Bookbindings: Six Examples from Colonial North America." In Bookbinding in Early America: Seven Essays on Masters and Methods. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society.

Glaister, Geoffrey Ashall. 1996. The Encyclopedia of the Book. 2nd ed. New Castle, Delaware : Oak Knoll Press

Marks, P. J. M. 1998. The British Library Guide to Bookbinding: History and Techniques. Toronto ; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.

Metzger, Consuela, Erin Hammeke, and Alexander Lawrence Ames. 2020. "The Faith That Binds: Swiss Anabaptist Devotionals in Early America." In Suave Mechanicals: Essays on the History of Bookbinding, edited by Julia Miller. Vol. 6. Ann Arbor: The Legacy Press.

Miller, Julia. 2014. Books Will Speak Plain: a Handbook for Identifying and Describing Historical Bindings. 2nd ed. Ann Arbor, Mich. : Legacy Press.

Roberts, Matt, Margaret R. Brown, and Don Etherington. 1982. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Washington: Library of Congress .

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Allen, Sue. 1976. Victorian Bookbindings: A Pictorial Survey. Rev. ed. A University of Chicago Press Text/Fiche. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Keywords: 19th century

British Museum, ed. 1965. Bookbindings from the Library of Jean Grolier: A Loan Exhibition, 23 September-31 October, 1965. London: Trustees of the British Museum.

A catalog of a British Museum exhibit of bindings from Grolier's collection, featuring Italian and French bindings, plus bindings by Claude de Picques, the Cupid's Bow binder and others. Plates feature rubbings of individual finishing tools as well as grayscale photographic reproductions of bindings from the collection (small, but fairly clear).
Keywords: 16th century; finishing tools; French; Italian; strapwork

De Hamel, Christopher. 1987. Glossed Books of the Bible and the Origins of the Paris Booktrade. Woodbridge, Suffolk ; Wolfeboro, N.H., USA: D.S. Brewer.

De Marinis, Tammaro. 1960. La Legatura Artistica in Italia Nei Secoli XV e XVI: Notizie Ed Elenchi. 3 vols. Firenze: Fratelli Alinari, Istituto di edizioni artistiche.

Devauchelle, Roger. 1959. La Reliure En France: De Ses Origines à Nos Jours. Paris: J. Rousseau-Girard.

Devaux, Yves. 1977. Dix Siècles de Reliure. Paris: Éditions Pygmalion.

A large, French-language book with a misleading title. The bulk of the text is dedicated to the 16th century onward, with only about 15 pages dedicated to bindings before printing, barely covering ten centuries. However, each section does have multiple small, black and white plates of period bindings and several full-page plates of tool designs and tooling patterns. Images of gilding/finishing and an index of book artisans and connoisseurs at the back.
Keywords: 12th century; 16th century; 17th century 18th century; 19th century; 20th century; designs; finishing; patterns; tools.

Foot, Mirjam, and Henry Davis. 1979. The Henry Davis Gift: A Collection of Book Bindings. London : New Castle, DE: The British Library ; Oak Knoll Press.

Foot, Mirjam. 1989. “English Decorated Bookbindings.” In Book Production and Publishing in Britain, 1375-1475, edited by Jeremy Griffiths and Derek Pearsall, 65–86. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gid, Denise. 1984. Catalogue Des Reliures Françaises Estampées à Froid, XVe-XVIe Siècle, de La Bibliothèque Mazarine. Documents, Études et Répertoires / Publiés Par l’Institut de Recherche et d’histoire Des Textes. Paris: Editions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique.

Goldschmidt, E. Ph. 1928. Gothic & Renaissance Bookbindings: Exemplified and Illustrated from the Author’s Collection. 2 vols. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

The introduction gives an excellent overview of the history of early book decoration and discusses different styles. Volume 2 contains hundreds of black and white images of bindings.
Keywords: 14th century; 15th century; 16th century; English; French; German; Italian; tooling

Hobson, Anthony. 1989. Humanists and Bookbinders: The Origins and Diffusion of the Humanistic Bookbinding 1459-1559, with a Census of Historiated Plaquette and Medallion Bindings of the Renaissance. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York: Cambridge University Press.

English-language book discussing the origins of western book decoration including Islamic and classical influences and the influence of coins and medals, with discussion of the evolution of Humanist bindings throughout northern Europe into the 16th century. Many black-and-white images, excellent history.
Keywords: 15th century; 16th century; classical; Humanist; Incunable; Islamic; Italian; tooling

Hobson, Anthony, and Paul Culot. 1991. Italian and French 16th Century Bookbindings = La Reliure En Italie et En France Au XVIe Siècle. New rev. ed. with corrections and Additions. Brussels: Bibliotheca Wittockiana.

English-language chapter on Italian 16th-c bindings followed by French-language chapter on French 16th-c bindings. Many black-and-white images. History of specific bookbinders.
Keywords: 16th century; French; Italian

Hobson, G. D. 1929. English Binding before 1500. The Sandars Lectures 1927. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

A tall, English-language book about 2/3 of which consists of black and white plates of historic English (and some French) bindings. Images are large and good quality. There are also a few images of early leather objects. Two brief chapters discuss English bindings before 1300 and between 1450-1500.
Keywords: 13th century; 14th century; 15th century; cut leather; English; Gothic; Oxford; Romanesque; satchel bindings; tooling

Hobson, G. D. 1944. Blind-Stamped Panels in the English Book-Trade. London: The Bibliographical society.

Keywords: 15th century; 16th century; English

Hueso Rolland, Francisco. 1934a. Exposición de Encuadernaciones Españolas, Siglos XII al XIX: Catálogo General Ilustrado. Edited by Sociedad Española de Amigos del Arte. Madrid: Blass, s. a.

Hueso Rolland, Francisco. 1934b. Exposición de Encuadernaciones Españolas, Siglos XIII al XIX, Catálogo-Guía. Edited by Sociedad Española de Amigos del Arte. Madrid.

Kyriss, Ernst. 1951. Verzierte Gotische Einbände Im Alten Deutschen Sprachgebiet. Stuttgart: M. Hettler.

Laffitte, Marie-Pierre, and Fabienne Le Bars. 1999. Reliures royales de la Renaissance: La Librarie de Fontainebleau. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Mazal, Otto. 1990. Europäische Einbandkunst Aus Mittelalter Und Neuzeit: Ausstellung Der Handschriften- Und Inkunabelsammlung Der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek: Prunksaal, 22. Mai-26. Oktober 1990. Gestraffte, Geringfügig verkürzte und verkleinerte Neuaufl. Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt.

German-language exhibition catalog featuring many images of bindings produced across Europe from the 1450s to the 19th century.
Keywords: 15th century; 16th century; 17th century; 18th century; 19th century

Michon, Louis-Marie. 1951. La reliure française. Paris: Larousse.

Michon, Louis-Marie. 1956. Les reliures mosaïquées du XVIIIe siècles. Paris: Société de la Reliure Originale.

Miller, Julia. 2014. Books Will Speak Plain: a Handbook for Identifying and Describing Historical Bindings. 2nd ed. Ann Arbor, Mich. : Legacy Press.

Describes many decorative motifs and styles used in bookbinding, especially in the Glossary.

Nixon, Howard M. 1978. Five Centuries of English Bookbinding. London: Scholar Press.

Nixon, Howard M., and Mirjam M. Foot. 1992. The History of Decorated Bookbinding in England. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Oldham, J.Basil. 1952. English Blind-Stamped Bindings. Reprint. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pollard, Graham. 1956. "Changes in the Style of Bookbinding, 1550–1830." The Library s5-XI (2): 71–94.

Pollard, Graham. 1962. “The Construction of English 12th-Century Bindings.” The Library, no. ser 17: 1–22.

Pollard, Graham. 1970. “The Names of Some English Fifteenth-Century Binders.” The Library 5th Ser 25, 193–218.

Pollard, Graham. 1975. “Some Anglo-Saxon Bookbindings.” The Book Collector 24.

Rabenau, Konrad von, Susanne Rothe, and Andreas Wittenberg. 1994. Deutsche Bucheinbände Der Renaissance Um Jakob Krause, Hofbuchbinder Des Kurfürsten August I. von Sachsen. Brussel: Bibliotheca Wittockiana.

Roberts, Colin H., and T. C. Skeat. 1983. The Birth of the Codex. London ; New York: Published for the British Academy by the Oxford University Press.

Szirmai, J. A. 1999. The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding. Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate.

Theophilus, John G. Hawthorne, and Cyril Stanley Smith. 1979. On Divers Arts: The Foremost Medieval Treatise on Painting, Glassmaking, and Metalwork. New York: Dover Publications.

A 12th century craft manual.

Thoinan, Ernest. 1893. Les relieurs français (1500-1800). Paris: Paul, Huard & Guillemin.

An older, French language text mainly concerned with chronicling French bookbinders. About 70 pages are dedicated to discussing 16th and 17th century binding styles and reproducing line drawings of several different types of patterns, plus some individual tools.
Keywords: 16th century; 17th century; Grolier; strapwork;

Thomas, Henry. 1939. Early Spanish Bookbindings. London: Printed for the Bibliographical society at the University press, Oxford.

Large, well-produced black and white photographs of bindings from the 12th-16th centuries. Spanish Gothic bindings are largely omitted. The very last plate is of a parchment binding with alum tawed interlacing tackets, but minus the leather overbands usually accompanying a stationer's binding. His introductory essay is enlightening and directly contradicts Goldschmidt at times. Text is in English.
Keywords: 12th century; 13th century; 14th century; 15th century; Spain; mudéjar

Zaehnsdorf, Joseph W. 1890. The Art of Bookbinding: A Practical Treatise. Second. London: George Gell & Sons.

Several editions. Modern reprint from 2007. Also available on Wikisource. Contains descriptions of techniques for forwarding and finishing fine bindings. Also contains descriptions and plates of several early modern styles.
Keywords: 19th century; finishing; forwarding; tooling; gilding.

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

Prior to the creation of the AIC Conservation Wiki, this page was created as "Section 3 - Chapter 6 - Decoration" of the Book Conservation Catalog by Olivia Primanis, Mary Baughman, Kevin Auer, and Meaghan Brown. For more see: History of the BPG Wiki.

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