Sunday, 2 July 2017

A Medieval project (6)

After last week's decoration of the manuscript, all that remains is to bind it. Book binding dates from around the first century C.E., and started out in rather simple fashion, evolving over the centuries into more elaborate and sophisticated forms. However, even modern hardcover books are bound in ways not all that different from the late Middle Ages.

This picture show relatively basic medieval book binding, in which quires are stitched together and to the cover:

In this example, the binding is more advanced (note the coloured stitching around the end):

Book covers could include clasps to hold the book closed:

Covers ranged from fairly plain to very elaborate:

For my own manuscript I decided to keep it as simple as possible, because I did not have suitable equipment at hand. I had neither thread nor needle, so I decided to use relatively thick twine (which is perhaps more authentically medieval anyway!). 

I wanted to stitch the quires together using this sort of cross-stitch technique:

Lacking a needle, I used a wooden skewer to punch holes in the backs of the quires, and then threaded the twine through by hand:

It took some doing, and the result was inevitably not too neat. For the cover I followed a procedure based on that followed in some early medieval Coptic codices, which is to simply glue the cover to the outer pages of the manuscript in this way:

I made a simple cover from cardboard, then tightened up my cross stitching and glued the cover on:

Not the most sophisticated of books, but I learned quite a bit in the whole process.

Other parts in this series:

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