The earliest period from which many bindings with wooden boards are extant is the twelfth/thirteenth century. These often have boards of around half an inch – “in some cases the book is thinner than the combined thickness of the two boards.”1 Early boards had square edges but after the 13th they often were beveled, acute or obtuse variously. Inside edges beveled also, especially in German bindings. The inside back edge would be beveled “so that it follows the swelling in the spine”.
- The Stonyhurst Gospel. [Four holes in each of boards and signatures, designated A through to D from top to bottom.]
“At the start, the threads were twice laced through holes A and C near the back edges of the boards, which were then threaded into the first section, out again at the next holes (B and D) and through the corresponding holes in the boards. The threads were then passed into the second section, along and out again at the starting points where kettle-stiches were made to catch up the first section. This was continued until all the sections were sewn, when the second board was fastened in the same manner as the first. … Grooves were cut in the faces of the boards to accommodate the threads, and V-shaped slots were cut in the backs of the sections to take the stiches.” –p.10
- All this reading at dinnertime in the library is to decide me on a binding style to begin experimenting with tomorrow. Here it is: I shall sew the signatures on to leather thongs with linen (after the modern style that I learnt at Pritchards2). Then I shall lace the leather to the ~½in. thich boards using either the ‘tunnel’ method or the ‘over the outside edge’ method (sketches of these to be added when I get near a scanner). That sound okay?
- Here is the sketch!
1: All quotes in this post from Bernard C. Middleton classic work “A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique”, The Holland Press, 1988, ISBN 0 946 323 135. DDC call #: 686.3MID
2: Which, by the way, seems to no longer exist.