Romanesque bindings

A post by Assistant Curator Katie Brew

I have recently been fortunate to attend a five day Romanesque binding course with experienced bookbinder and conservator Arthur Green. It was a largely practical course, attended to gain a deeper understanding of this particular binding style and its construction – to improve my own skills and directly inform the conservation of the early medieval bindings we have here in Special Collections.

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Book conservation in lockdown

What do Conservators do when separated from the archives and rare books they normally work on? One answer is that they make their own! Tony King, our Senior Manager Collections Care and Conservation, describes the process of creating a historic bookbinding.

The history of Western bookbinding stretches back to antiquity and has involved significant changes in the way books are bound, sometimes leading to obvious external differences but often not. Books are complex 3-dimensional objects and working out how a book was put together several hundred years ago requires a fair bit of detective work. Very few descriptions of life in the bindery have survived so the only way to really understand the processes involved is to make a new book using what we believe to be the techniques, tools and materials of the period.

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