Inexpensive European bindings with limp covers of paper and parchment from the 1470s to the 1830s

The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will look at the many different ways in which European bookbinders from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution strove to produce ever cheaper bindings for the booktrade. The course will look in detail at the different types of inexpensive commercial bindings with limp parchment and paper covers, including laced-case, longstitch, stitched and tacketed bindings (and some with no covers at all). The possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops on bindings that are not decorated with finishing tools will be explored, as well as the means by which the comparative costs of bindings can be assessed. The different materials used to make bookbindings will be discussed, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how and where these types developed through the three and a half centuries covered by the course. The course will be taught with both extensively illustrated PowerPoint lectures and sessions in which real books are examined and discussed.