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The craft of bookbinding has only recently come under attention as an art form; historically not viewed very highly a great many excellent bindings have been lost over the years as valuable books are re-bound without placing importance on also preserving their binding.

The art form came into demand with the rise of printing in the 15th century. In the 16th century most patrons of printed books would commission the binding separately, having purchased their book unbound.


Types of bindings

Coptic Binding

A simple, early period style

Limp Binding

Done in two major ways, either sewn onto supports or 'ledger sewn' straight to the binding, this is the most popular style of binding done in the Middle Kingdom.

Hard Binding

Technically similar to limp binding sewn onto supports, the text block is sewn to hard wooden boards, often covered in leather or vellum.


Anderson, Priscilla “Fifteenth-Century Bookbinding Structure in Italy and the Neatherlands: A Survey of Manuscripts and Printed Books” in The Book and Paper Group Annual, Vol 18, The American Institute for Conservation 1999.

Foot, Mirjam, ed. Eloquent Witnesses: Bookbindings and Their History British Library. New Castle Delaware Oak Knoll Press 2004

Marks, P.J.M. The British Library Guide to Bookbinding Toronto, Buffalo University of Toronto Press, 1998

Young, Laura S. Bookbinding & Conservation by Hand: A Working Guide Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, Delaware 1995

Website: - The British Library database of Bookbinding.

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