F&M College Library

History of the Book - Hand Press Period, 1450-1800

This guide is designed to provide a broad overview of printing technologies during the hand press period, and assist with the ENG 206 "Material Texts" assignment in particular.

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Binding

Binding: Bookbinding is the process whereby the pages of a manuscript or printed book are secured in a particular order and encased by protective covers.  It is split into two stages: "forwarding" is the sewing of the leaves and attachment of covers, and "finishing" is the decoration of the covers with a variety of tools and materials.

The structure and decoration of a binding depends on its use.  Large religious texts were often bound in tooled leather over heavy wooden boards and metal clasps and bosses to hold the volume flat and protect it from the lectern.  School texts were often smaller, and bound in cheap leather with minimal decoration. This reduced cost and speeded production.

Binding design was also influenced by artistic trends, the skill and training of the binder, the quality and availability of materials, and the demands of the patron or institution.


Hand Bookbinding Online Exhibits

Hand Bookbindings - Princeton University

Bookbindings Database - British Library