Das Kapitalbund: at last!

Four years ago I took a course at the London Rare Book Summer School, and viewed slides of many books bound between 1430 and 1820. Amongst them were German books with kapitalbunds.

A book with kapitalbunds is very distinctive by the dip that occurs at the spine; the squares seem inordinately tall. There are no endbands that sit on top of the bookblock, and there are no headcaps.

After three years of searching, I found one at last:

RBRS2 Malleus Malleficarum

RBRS2 Malleus Malleficarum with Rationes Breves and De Summe Bono

Title written on foredge

Title written on foredge

Vellum pastedown

Vellum pastedown

This is a full leather binding over paste boards with the kapitalbund. The kapitalbund is a change over station, not an endband, but as it is situated so close to the head and tail, can easily be mistaken for one. In the first photo you can see that unlike normal books, the spine is set much lower that the cover boards. It is blind tooled with fleur de lis and 6 petal flower motifs in circles, with hatchet lines along the raised bands.

There is a vellum paste down on the front and back covers; I am sure I have seen renmants in other books. This one was quite intact. there were also parchment guards on the first and last sections. Unfortunately the text is printed on paper that is running cross grain.

The watermarks in the book are fleur de lis, found in the gutter and a gothic P.

The Rare Book Stack at the National Library of Australia contains numerous books printed in Germany, and when I came back from London, I was so sure of finding at least one. Apparently they are not so common. They are a southern German speciality.

I am quite chuffed.

If you want to find out more, visit the Ligatus site for a description.

I am putting all my research into books from the Rare Book Stack into two volumes, due in 2017. So watch this space!

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