Ok, let’s get into something a bit meaty, that has nothing to do with bookbinding and all to do with plates.
At the National Library of Australia we have plates of Dürer’s Little Passion (RBRS 13), which you can view here. It was printed in 1511 and rebound in a non-contempory calf binding, with blind tooling along perimeter.
This is what I saw at the British Museum:
35 of 36 wood blocks. And we were also shown some corresponding impressions. What deliciousness! Yes, you can handle the book, look at the plates, but when you are confronted with the medium, which may have been engraved by the Master himself and most certainly drawn on by him, then you marvel at the skills that were available in 1511.
My interest in Dürer is this, of course:
We were asked to examine the blocks closely; could we detect different hands in the relief structure of the matrix?
I took photos of the signatures; I figured that you might be able to tell one worker from another by the way he/she carved the AD. If we look closely are the ADs similarly different?
It’s not every day you get to see the plate and its impression.
That was all I had time to photograph I’m afraid.
I haven’t had the time to properly examine these photos; I am just reporting our day. I feel very privileged to have seen these. However these were seen in a reading room, and if you are going to London, I believe if you make an appointment well before hand, you may be able to experienced these for yourself.
The Print and Drawing reading room, very light but not airy. In the summer bring your own fan.