Category Archives: bookbinding

Arnoldi Mylij – printer/bookseller

I’ve just started reading Peter Blayney’s first tome on the Company of Stationers. It is a weighty book not only because of its contents, but literally heavy in terms of its construction. It is choc full of information about the formation of this most important association, and I have already learned the difference between scriveners, limners and textwriters….And I won’t tell you; you’ll need to get volume one for your self.

To cut a long story short, as I am reading about this English association, I am wondering whether other important printing centres had similar organisations. I keep searching. In the meantime, let me show you some initials and fleurons created or used by Arnoldus Mylij. The following information has been gathered from a variety of sources on the internet, notably the CERL thesaurus and the Wikipedias of Luxembourg and France, as well as other bits of information as found in Google books.

Arnold Mylius, or Arnoldus Mylij, born on October 16, 1540 in Vryemoersheim (Friemersheim) in the former county of Moers, died on November 17, 1604 in Cologne. He was a printer and book dealer, active in Cologne between 1585 to 1604. Arnold Mylius was from the family of Myliusse of Dudelange and probably the brother of the famous Jean (John) Mylius.

His father was Herman Mylius and his mother Marguerite von Werdt. After his education, Arnold Mylius  learned the book trade in Antwerp in the establishment of Arnold Birckmann and took over the management as Managing Director for the trust of the heirs of Birckmann. He opened his own printing press, which gained a great reputation and from 1585 was the sole owner of the publishing house “Fat hens” by Arnold Birckmann

For religious reasons, it seems that he moved to Cologne and married a young woman from the family of Birckmann, Barbara Birckmann. She died on April 24, 1596. The couple had three children: Arnold, Marguerite and Herman.

Mylius took part in the public life of the City of Cologne, becoming a Senator of the City. He was buried in the Saint Peter church in Cologne.

In 1576 Arnold worked with Plantin to print the 5th volume of Augustine’s Opera. He paid for half the cost of the paper and the printing, receiving in exchange half the edition to sell. Between 1586 and 1604  he published  over 200 books. The more I research the more I find that there is a very blurred line between bookseller/publisher/printer; a line that changes drastically when publishers are no longer technical middlemen, but deal more concretely with writers and editors than with printers and bookbinders.

Here are some books that I have found:

 

Books attributed to Mylius include:
• contrib.: Commentariorum ac disputationum in tertiam partem Diui Thomæ. Tomus tertius. : Qui est primus de sacramentis ; in quo ea continentur, quae post praefationem indicantur / (Moguntiæ : Ex officina typographica Balthasari Lippij : Sumptibus Arnoldi Mylij., Anno, M.D. IC), by Francisco Suárez, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Balthasar Lipp, also contrib. by Weston School of Theology and Domus Lugdunensis

* contrib.: Ioannis Genesii Sepuluedæ Cordubensis Sacrosanctæ Theologiæ Doctoris, Caroli V. Imperatoris, historici. Opera, quæ reperiri potuerunt omnia. / (Coloniae Agrippinae, : In officina Birckmannica, sumptibus Arnoldi Mylij., Anno M. DCII), by Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and printer Officina Birckmannica.

 

Below are some samples of Mylius’ printed historiated capitals dated to 1589, found in “Historiarum indicarum” by Maffei, (MRB Q950.3/17A1) found at the State Library of NSW

Here are some headers, tailpiece and fleurons from printed and published by Arnold and Herman Mylius between 1591 and 1642:

And lastly let’s look at some historiated capitals used by Arnold’s son Herman, in 1647 “Vita et martyrivm S. Vrsvlæ et sociarum undecim millium virginum” (RBq CLI 3908) from the National Library of Australia. I am always interested in seeing how much gets recycled not only within one book, but also from book to book and through time. I have also included letters from the 1622  “De triplici virtute theologica, fide, spe, et charitate / Francisci Suarez” also at the National Library of Australia for comparison. I have taken measurements, but didn’t feel it necessary to include in this post.

As I visit other state libraries this spring and summer, I look forward to corroborating the letters I have already collected and completing missing elements.

There were interesting watermarks, by the way, but that’s for another post.

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Apprenticeships: do we want them and do they still exist?

I have to perform this week: I am making two books for two experienced bookbinders. I need to be better than my best. But I feel like a beginner.

I was just saying to my students last night that I wished I could do an apprenticeship, a “stage” or internship with a bookbinder somewhere. However at just over 50 years old, who would want me?  I don’t mean it to sound bad; I am being realistic. It costs money to train someone.   I consider myself  an advanced beginner. Although I learned much of my skills at the bench, I have gotten to where I am by teaching myself, by reading, by attending the occasional workshop. I need more bookbinding hours under my belt.  And I am the sort of person who needs a teacher at hand. It’s not that I wish to be younger, it’s about having more time.  What I really need is constant teaching, mentoring.  Someone from whom I can get answers to questions. Someone who I can watch and from whom I can learn.

Apprenticeships can last from 4 to 15 years. At work, I see the young paper conservators join us with Masters degrees. Masters of what? Theory. Words. No hand skills. The organisation employs them, but really in their first few years, the institution is training them because they can’t even tear paper. Is it the same for doctors? Do they graduate with no surgical skills? Are they trained in hospitals, in ER wards? Do institutions place any importance on this sort of training? Is this sort of training as good as a piece of paper? I don’t know about where you are, but dare I say that we seem to place more value on a piece of paper than on hand skills and experience.

You need a piece of paper stating that you are a librarian or a historian or a bookbinder if you want to travel up the corporate ladder in Australia. That you only got 51% probably doesn’t matter; the piece of paper is still more important than 25 years experience. How depressing. I am confused. Why is hands on experience worth so little?

Somehow, with the eradication of formal courses at learning institutions and the closures of bookbinding businesses, the opportunity for both formal training and apprenticeships is diminishing. And yet there is plenty of interest out in the world, as seen on Pintrest, Instagram and other social media sites.

Many artists out there do their own binding; some better than others. Some artists get a bookbinder to produce a book for them. Some bookbinders bind sheets into books or rebind books. Some bookbinders might even bind their own works in rather unorthodox manners. Some bookbinders experiment with bindings.

I am not creative enough to produce the inside; I can write, but I need a designer to make it look beautiful. Some people can do both well. When it comes to covers I am still a fledgling. But that is the beauty of art or craft – the ongoing learning journey.

What brought me to write here is a Facebook post. It’s on a bit of a tangent, but it made me think about what makes a bookbinder? Presumably someone who binds pieces of paper together so that they can be transported or read.  Someone was told they were a book artist, not a bookbinder.

Last year’s results

If you go to FB you can probably find the many peoples who supported the binder who posted this. However when you look at the person’s work, you can understand why the critic said what he said. What I think he meant was that this person was an amateur without hands skills trying to be a professional. Is that what the critic meant by book artist? I dare say many people, book artists,  would be incensed by that statement.

What is the difference between a book artist and a bookbinder? Is there a class system within the bookbinding fraternity?

I don’t pretend to know the answer. My only point of reference is whether or not the work is well executed. When you look at the results of bookbinding competitions, the fine binders who exhibit are artists; they design and create on covers, like any fine painter. So are they not also book artists?

You can go to YouTube and find bookbinding lessons by well meaning people. I once saw a person use a toilet roll and PVA on leather to make a fake rounded spine with leather covering. I was cringing with embarrassment in my lounge room, but this guy was so happy to share his knowledge that I didn’t really know how to react. He was just trying to get people to bind, and he was enthusiastic, and from a distance the end product looked OK. As a binder I was shaking my head in disbelief that this sort of information is out there, ready to assail the unwary.

Bookbinding is a lifelong learning journey. One must strive to learn the basics well; to continuous improvement of one’s current skills and then to build up those skills. So i come back to the notion of apprenticeship and mentorships. It’s all a great big circle.

 

Any thoughts?

 

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The bindings of Paris printer Simon de Colines (Simoneum Colinarium)

This is a book blog, but for some time now I have been distracted with title pages, historiated capitals and pagination that form parts of the book.

While researching watermarks, and having a hard time finding paper makers amongst all the photos of watermarks, I had the thought that if I could relate the watermarks to the printers we could find out from where the papers came.

What has become apparent to me is that it was a very small world and everyone knew each other or were related in some fashion. The confusing aspect of printing is that sometimes they latinised their names and sometimes they didn’t. So a printer may have had many variant names.

Simon de Colines, or Simoneum Colinarium was an active Paris printer between 1520 and 1546, one of the first of the Renaissance. He worked exclusively for the University of Paris between 150 and 1546. Colines used elegant roman and italic types and a Greek type, with accents, that were superior to their predecessors. These are now called French old-style, a style that remained popular for over 200 years and revived in the early 20th century. Some of his typefaces have been the basis for many  later typefaces,  such as Garamond.

Let’s first examine bindings of his texts: “Orontii Finei Delphinatis, regii mathematicarvm professoris, de mundi sphaera, siue cosmographia, primave astronomiae parte.” Printed in Paris 1542.
RB 520 F495 (NLA)

This is a half binding but the corners are missing, more than likely a rebind. Leather spine with pastepaper sides, marbled paper endsheets.

“Lucanus,” RB Fitz 148 (NLA) Printed  Paris 1543 is a full calk binding with blind tooling on cover. It has recycled parchment manuscript as pastedown, and as you can see, sewn on 3 supports

and  “E Kaine diatheke” RB CLI 3106 (NLA) Printed Paris 1534 is also a rebind. It’s a reback, meaning that the spine (or back) has been redone. The spine panels are fully gold tooled and there is evidence of gold tooling on the bands. The edges are well gilt and it has double colour sewn endbands.

I am sorry some of these pictures are blurry; I think I need new glasses!

In addition to his work as a printer,  de Colines worked as an editor, publisher, and punchcutter. During his lifetime, he published over 700 separate editions (almost 4% of books published in 16th-century Paris). He used rabbits, satyrs, and philosophers as his pressmark. He married the widow of Henri Etienne, with whom he had worked, training his stepson Robert Estienne (Stephanus as he became known).

As with all printers he had variant names: Simonem Colinaeum,

Maybe now we can look at some title pages and some historiated capitals

I’m trying to see if the same letters were used in different books. De Colines printed in Greek and Latin. In the books I have seen, the large historiated capitals are found mainly in the first few sections. The next sections may contain factotums or much smaller capitals. The first volumes were paid much more attention than later volumes, where there were sometimes no historiated capitals at all. In the Orontii blank spaces were left for the later printing of larger capitals, which never eventuated.

But for this period, this dotted background is very typical.

Many printers also have what known as a printer’s device, a brand or logo. Often it gets passed down to the various people who take on the printing shop. Sometimes  during a printer’s lifetime a printer may have several devices at play.

 Latin motto TEMPUS (Time) HANC ACIEM SOLA RETUNDIT VIRTUS is translated “virtue alone withstands this blade”. Note the forelock on Time–so that one may seize Time by the forelock.

Another device is rabbits with the initial SDC. I have not yet found this one. See below:

Image courtesy POP Provenance Online Project  Woodcut for Simon de Colines device

Till next time

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James Flesher: Printer for the City of London Publishers

My next project is a beauty! It’s all about printing. But what about the bindings?

The most exciting part of this research is memory. I am looking at headers and letters. I could swear I’d seen some of them before? But have I really? I have come to wonder if they didn’t copy each other’s designs. Or maybe they swapped or sold type to each other. Sometimes the same design appears in different sizes. Easy to do with a computer today, but imagine having to make three or four sizes by hand?

In the blur of information, it seems that designs were used and recycled by printers. Could this be true?

In my research for The Perfume of Books, I came across James Flesher.  Flesher, or Fletcher(?) was the son of Miles Flesher, printer, and father of Miles II, bookseller. He lived and worked in Little Britain, a part of London in around 1650. I had to look up Little Britain, because I have come across this term quite a bit lately, and of course there is the television series. I never realised it was a real street in London. I trawl the Internet for information, Wikipedia, the CERL database. Sometimes I am lucky to get a lot of information on printer’s lives. Sometimes there is hardly any. All I have at hand are books which Flesher printed. Many of Flesher’s books have red ruled title pages.  The Criticri Sacri interestingly enough, has no historiated capitals. The letters are quite plain, as is the paragraphing.

The capital letters were all taken from the books below. If you look at the “T”, Flesher had many designs. The thistle appears quite a lot in this period, not just with Flesher, but with other printers as well.

1660 Ductor Dubitantium or the rule of conscience in all her generall measures RBq CLI 4226 (NLA)

 

1660 Critici sacri: give doctissimorum virorum in SS biblia RBq De Vesci 65 (NLA)

 

1662 Basilika: the workes of King Charles the martyr : with a collection of declarations, treaties and other papers concerning the differences betwixt His said Majesty and his two Houses of Parliament RBq De Vesci 1076 (NLA)


1665 The history of the Church of Scotland : beginning the year of Our Lord 203, and continued to the end of the reign of King James the VI ,RBq MISC 112  (NLA)

I am sifting through the thousands of photos I have amassed, and looking to complete alphabets. I’ll keep posting about printers, their bindings and their type.

Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated.

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The aftermath of a conference

The aftermath of participating at a bookbinding conference is that your participation leaves you exhausted. Apart from all the new information you receive at said conference, you meet new people, make new friends and then proceed to attend the ensuing workshops. Because you can’t really not go learn from international teachers when they are in your home town.

After 5 days of recreating a replica of the St Cuthbert’s gospel with Michael Burke, I traveled to Sydney for another amazing workshop with Dominic Riley.

Personally, a workshop is an opportunity to learn, not to shine. If I knew these techniques already why would I be going? You could say that at any level there is always something new to learn, and that would be true. But unlike tango where I am actually quite proficient, in bookbinding terms, I am an advanced beginner.

Saying that, I can be amazed at the lack of basic binding knowledge in others; or perhaps I am amazed that I know more than I think I do. In fact, this always amazes me.  I wish I had started learning bookbinding in my twenties. I might appear self-confident, but like everyone else, can get drawn in the pits of self doubt.

But. This post is not about workshops; it’s about information.

I am not the neatest in any of these workshops. I work quickly, perhaps too quickly, a result of having worked at the bench repairing books on a schedule. It’s a bit like reading a novel; I want to get to the nitty gritty. I can practise neatness in my own time, just teach me the technique.

Both Dominic and Michael showed us techniques, or tricks you could say, that were so simple, it would make you cry for not having thought of them.

In the St Cuthbert’s, the method of attaching cord under the leather was ingenius (go to my Instagram for pictures)

The corner turn ins with tongues were also so neat. I’d read about them, had tried to replicate them; being shown how to do them was so much easier than reading instructions.

Dominic’s freestyle tool for creating shapes on leather was also very liberating. Worker Number 2 has been working on one for me at home. I had a half made one, after having heard Dominic at the New Zealand conference. Here, under his instructions, I finished it, and it worked. It enabled me to just write letters and make curved lines as I like them.

The image below illustrates two discoveries this last week end:

IMG_0994.JPG

Freedom and that nothing is truly new.

The yellow book contains the papers of the first conference, held in Canberra in 1984, and which for many Australian binders seems to be a turning point. I’d never had a chance to flick through it. Boy, is it packed with good information. I sat in a restaurant this evening reading all about backpared onlays; I’d heard about them. I had imagined what back paring meant, but here were diagrams dispelling any myths in my head, and giving me a clear picture of what backparing is. (As in paring the leather from the back side – flesh side)

But where are those binders now?

I believe some have passed away. Others like June McNichols and Friedhelm Pohlmann from Queensland still attend any large meeting. Some have disappeared. I am too young in my binding years to have known many of the presenters of that first conference, all the more is the pity, because I would have loved to have met Beryl Bevis, Sun Everard and Heather McPherson, let alone Edgar Mansfield and Hugo Peller.

I was speaking with antiquarian bookseller Paul Feain just this week. He thought that someone should write a book on Australian printers. Maybe a book should be written on Australian binders, fine and trade.

As a trade, binding may be dying, but as an art there are more binders out there than we reckon. Often they work and learn in isolation. Just type “bookbinding” into Google and see what images you get.

Since 1984 there have been 3 conferences, not counting this year’s: one other in Canberra, one in Melbourne and one in New Zealand. Where are the more experienced binders? Where are the old tradies?

Perhaps people no longer want to join a collective. I think there is strength in unity; less re invention of the wheel, so to speak. Maybe we should just have a session at the pub, over a pint, like the folk musicians. The next gathering of binders will be in Sydney. Let’s see who turns up.

For my part,  amongst my many purchases this week, I have this great book;  one that has given me a bit more of a perspective on Australian bookbinding history.

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Using Don Glaister’s method

At the beginning of last year, that is 2016, I went along to a week long workshop on gold tooling. Don Glaister was visiting Canberra for the workshop and any opportunity to learn is a good opportunity.

Have I done much, if any, gold tooling since then? I hate to admit it, but no. Some, but not enough. However in between tooling moments, he showed us a neat technique for attaching images, pictures to covers so that they don’t get soiled.

The recipe is as follows:

1 image printed or drawn on paper

1 piece of mylar

sanding paper

EVA

Cut your mylar slightly bigger than the image; sand it lightly

Brush on EVA

Apply image onto it and nip in press between boards; let dry.

 

Hey presto! You have an image that is protected from the elements and able to be glued onto a surface. I have used it here:

 

However since I glued it on a slippery photo I am wondering if it will stay. I’ve decided to cut the mylar in a cross formation, so that it has tabs, and insert the photo under the covering material.

It produces a very neat result.

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Driving force of research: strange watermarks and beautiful vignettes.

During the past few years I concentrated my research on books mainly from France, Italy and England. Luck of the draw really. However as my research draws to a close and my book on watermarks is now at the printer, I find myself with nothing to do. Haha , says she! Actually, when is research ever finished?

I have decided to turn my research data into a series of books called the Booksleuth Series. Why not?After all I as a rare book detective I am detecting strange and or usual marks in rare tomes.

These marks, although not that rare in the scheme of things. were all found in books by Spanish authors. The research needs some sort of focus, some sort of purpose. So I will be seeking examples of early Iberian writing in Australia.  I’ll be looking for early texts on theology, probably from Jesuit collections. These are more likely to be bound in vellum, and I can’t wait to see what watermarks are hiding in them.

From NLA collection RBq MISC 179.

I won’t just concentrate on watermarks and bindings. Now that I have a little nit more experience, and curiosity, I will be looking at the chapter headers and the motifs and vignettes used by printers.  Watch this space.

If you know any books worth examining, please send me their titles. Sharing information is one of the main reasons that drives me.

cheers

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About a book: Annali ecclesiastici tratti da quelli del Cardinal Baronio per Odorico Rinaldi

What is this book? This is what I found:

I went looking for this book because I was searching for Vitale Mascardi’s alphabet. I had seen one other book, and it only had one historiated capital in it. I went to check, in case I had gotten it wrong, but couldn’t find anymore within the pages. The title page is signed: Daniel Widman FET. I imagine it means he sculptured the plates. The CERL Thesaurus has a Daniel Widman as student of philosophy in Ingolstadt. How many Daniel Widmans could there be at that time?

This one had two capitals:

Ok, 3, but I already had the “H” so it doesn’t count. After the first few pages, he dispenses with niceties and just uses bold type.

Mascardi was known to have printed books in the vernacular Italian; I’d say quite a feat in the mid 1600s. The rest of the book has italic and regular print. Printers out there please forgive my lack of correct vocabulary; I am still learning.

Before we go on about the ecclesiastical annals he printed, let’s look at the binding. In all the books I have examined, I don’t think I ever found primary and secondary endbands on the one book. I mean, I might have, but never noticed. Look here:

Seeing this, I now understand the practicality of having  primary and secondary endbands. If you have ever struggled with the core remaining still on the edge of the spine as you wind your threads, struggling the once with winding around a core of the primary allows you to create beautiful design with the secondary. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? But imagine how much time this must take? So in the mid 1600s, if we say that an edition run was roughly a thousand printed sheet sets, how many sets would have been bound? This must have been done lovingly, or at least with a great degree of care.

Then of course on this binding we get to see the linings: full transverse linings made from printer’s waste or bookbinding recycling? Will we ever know?

 

And besides the recycled linings, you can also see the sewing structure.

Getting back to the book, what’s it about? Twelves centuries of the history of  the Church. Written in vernacular Italian, was it meant to educate the people?  I went to Wikipedia to educate myself. Not a far fetch that its title page plate was engraved by a philosophy student.

Let’s go back to the previous book:

Antiquae urbis splendor, hoc est praecipua eiusdem templa, amphitheatra, theatra, circi, naumachiae, arcus triumphales, maunscles aliaque sumptuosiora aedificia, pompae item triumphalis et colossaearum imaginum descriptio

This is a delightful landscape book, limp vellum binding, filled with images , as described in its title, of encampments, buildings, cities. Printed by Mascardi, with hardly any text. And one historiated capital. Engravings sculpted by Giacomo Laurus,  engraver and stub publisher(?), according to CERL.

Before I leave you, take a look at these headpieces which he repeatedly used. No ther factotums, fleurons or other ornaments. (I am trying to dazzle you with new found jargon from the glossary at the Fleuron Database)

I am collecting information for another project……

In the next post I’ll show you some watermarks….

Comments, opinions, ideas always welcomed.

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Lesson learned in the bindery today

It had been my intention to post photos of today’s production. But worker No2 was busy playing the cello while worker No1 had her hands full of glue.

In my pleasant workshop I was devising ways in which I could bind the Perfume of Books; the hardest part is coming up with a design. Initially I was going to use the paper stock I had. As the book has grown to 400 pages, and weighs one kilo, I couldn’t make paper bindings. Sides are ok, but a paper spine, for a book I hope will get much used, would not be appropriate.  Besides which, the paper bought in fits and starts from various suppliers doesn’t actually suit the theme of the book.

So I am left to use cloth and some papers for the sides.

This is the most consistent binding time I have had in a long while. And then it hit me that I still needed to add a title to the cover. Too many things to think about at one, and with so little time.

I like horizontal stripes. I do think that less is more. I like plats rapportés, a kind of simplified binding, where the covering material goes over the sandwiched spine.

I like having lines going across one side to the other

I like having lines going across one side to the other

I also like millimeter binding

Type of millimetre binding

Type of millimetre binding

Will I be using leather or paper? Still how do I get the title on.

The type I have is too small for the size of this book, and I will be going to a tooling workshop with Dominic Riley way after the books are due, so I guess it’s up to my printer and me. I can print on japanese paper, and after a bit of swearing I can print on cloth; afterall I wanted to keep the style of the title Susan designed for me.

So the books will be made in 3 pieces, with a hollow. Is that cheating or is that actually making more work for myself?

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Lesson 1: This pile of books now has their spine linings and inner boards attached. I found when I was trying a millimetre binding that this was an impediment to adding a piece of leather across the top of the binding. Millimetre binding can occur either as a case binding or with laced-in boards; it is harder to do when it is a strange combination of both. Photos to come….

Lesson 2: When covering a board for simplified binding or plats rapportés, don’t glue down the spine side first as it will create tension in the paper and will result in diagonal lines  along the paper.

Lesson 3: clean your remay so that you don’t have glue left on it. It will transfer onto your paper.

I wish my students could watch me; they would hear me talk to myself as well as get glue all over my fingers. But they would see me learn from previous experience and use patience to case-in my book and leave it open. Photo to come…..

I went to the Code X, the international bookbinders’ exhibition that is part of the Australian Bookbinders’ Conference. There were apparently 25 different binding styles. And at least 4 bindings in New Oriental binding, including mine.  However the bindings inspired me; made me think about my own design issues.

Lesson 4: patience is a virtue. Wit for things to dry before going to the next stage.

After all this talk I still have only bound 3 books….

 

 

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A book of sermons

This has changed from being simply a book binding blog to other things about the book.

I found a book of sermons the other day (RB MISC 801 – Sermao do mandato pregado na sancta see metropolitana desta corte & cidade de Lisboa, no anno de 1653 / pello Diogo Cesar). The problem with this title is that it is a collection of sermon pamphlets, printed at various different times, between roughly 1685 and 1733, by various different printers.

I suppose if you were just looking for sermons in portuguese this discrepancy wouldn’t matter to you. But I am trying to collect samples of vignettes, motifs, lines and  historiated capitals and associate them with specific printers.

So let me just show you some title pages from these sermons:

Here are some of the historiated capitals used by these three printers

 

 

What is interesting about these images is the use of one tool to make an elongated image. Unlike binders who had decorated rolls they could push along and single gouges they pressed into the bindings, I would imagine that printers needed to have a bit of type stock to create  differing patterns. Were the header vignettes printed at the same time as the text? Or did they print them afterwards by hand perhaps, hence the lack of straightness in some vignettes? The repetition of one stamp can make for interesting pattern.

So lastly, some watermarks because I had nothing else for the workshop of Miguel Deslandes.

 

 

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