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October 4th, 2013 by Nicholas Cotoulas


Collation Formula and Book-Binding Part II

Last week was a pretty hectic week, since it was the annual Friends of  the Robert H. Goddard Library Book Sale. I had to help set up the book sale for my work-study job. I found some really awesome books to add to my collection, including a two volume directory of the Union Volunteers for Massachusetts for the Civil War, a German newspaper with a very simple binding, and The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs of Reverend Isaac Watts from 1839. I was also was able to meet Bob Bradbury who used to teach a course at Clark, and has written about Clark’s miniature book collection in the Archives. He was really excited when I told him that I started selling antique books this summer to decorators, and have a great passion for book collecting.

This week in class, we ended up presenting the collation formulas we worked on last week, and looked at the bindings of a plethora of off-white books. Also, just to clarify last week’s post, the book Andy Doig and I collated was not Book 10 of the Jonas Clark Collection, but rather Book 100.

One of my classmates asked the question, “Why does studying bibliography matter?” Professor Neuman went on to explain that descriptive bibliography originated from book collecting, and book collector’s wanting to be able to identify first editions. I found it very interesting that this question was asked in class, because I’ve realized that archiving and the study of bibliography is something that I’ve become very passionate about and interested in. Also, I aspire to be an archivist, librarian, bibliographer, or Professor someday, and I had reached the conclusion that my main goal as an academic is to do everything in my power to prolong the existence of the physical book. I’ve been thinking about libraries for most of the semester in terms of their books as being so important.However I talked with the reference librarian Rachael Shea last week, and realized that its not the medium within libraries that is the most important aspect, but rather the librarians and patrons, and their interactions and relationships, and how they create an academic community based around helping each other out.

The book we spent the most time discussing in class, when we went over collation formula, was a Hebrew New-Testament printed in a hybrid of German and Hebrew. The pages had evidence of them having been repaired, and the book reads from right to left. We reached the conclusion that this particular book was printed to assist in converting German Jews. We also looked at a copy of The Anatomy of Melancholy from 1632 that had a cannibalized frontispiece (illustration before the title page) from 1633.

The second half of class, we looked at several books with off-white bindings, including two books with limp-vellum bindings. Limp-vellum bindings are treated animal-skin bindings that are not supported by any boards on the front and back covers. We also looked at several books with pig-skin bindings, which tend to be a darker tone of white and have follicle structures that are more prominent than vellum. Pig-skin bindings are probably my favorite type of bindings, because they are so unique looking, I studied several pig-skin bindings for last week’s lab. Pig-skin bindings were very popular in Germany during the 16th century and was used to bind Bibles and other theological books. Professor Neuman said that the reason why pig-skin was popular in German for book-binding, because countries tended to bind books with the skin from the animals that they eat the most.

These past two weeks have been really wonderfully bookish.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 9 2013

    Honestly speaking first time i heard about the such type of binding and as you said its unique and look fabulous that really true..i seen its picture on google search and for the more detail i also search.

    • Nicholas Cotoulas
      Oct 19 2013

      Here is a link to some more images of old books with pigskin tawed with alum bindings:

  2. Mar 24 2015

    Thats true
    Professor Neuman said that the reason why pig-skin was popular in German for book-binding, because countries tended to bind books with the skin from the animals that they eat the most.


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