It’s not everyday you see a book that can be read in six completely different ways, and this small book from the National Library of Sweden is definitely an anomaly. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel, this 16th century text has a special sixfold dos-à-dos (or “back to back”) binding with strategically placed clasps that makes it possible for six books to be neatly bound into one. This particular book contains devotional texts, including Martin Luther’s Der kleine Catechismus, which was printed in German between the 1550’s and 1570’s.
While it could be hard to keep your place in this book, you can’t ignore that the engineering of it is quite a feat. In the age of the Kindle, Nook, and iPad, it’s a nice reminder of handcrafted ingenuity.
1 HARAUCOURT (Edmond) L’EFFORT. La Madone. L’Antéchrist. L’Immortalité. La Fin du monde. Binding by Meunier 2 SCHWABE (Carlos). - BAUDELAIRE (Charles) LES FLEURS DU MAL. Binding by Meunier 3 SCHWOB (Marcel) LA PORTE DES REVES. Binding by Meunier 4 UZANNE (Octave) DICTIONNAIRE BIBLIOPHILOSOPHIQUE. Binding by Weckesser
Crucial Perimeter is our stunning new book arts acquisition from Islam Aly, one of the first graduates from the University of Iowa Center for the Book’s MFA program.
“I am hoping more people will learn that these historical bindings still exist and are still used in book art, and that the kind of content I use in my books will foster cross-cultural learning by making viewers learn about Islamic art and culture. “
Aly, Islam Mahmoud Mohamed. “Using Historical Bindings in Producing Contemporary Artists’ Books.” Master’s thesis, University of Iowa, 2013.
Six thickly bound books make up this typical block of Philadelphia row homes, reflecting my interest in the hidden stories of my own neighborhood. In any community there is significance, meaning, and sometimes tension between who lives next to whom, much like books on a shelf. I use the book form as a metaphor, implying that there are stories here. Each carefully embroidered brick begs a closer look, an investigation of those stories. The altered books that comprise the text blocks vary in their content, though the narrative cannot be read from cover to cover. The stories of this community are found in the relationships between the books.
Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh
As it turns out, the practice of using human skin to bind books was actually pretty popular during the 17th century. It’s referred to as Anthropodermic bibliopegy and proved pretty common when it came to anatomical textbooks. Medical professionals would often use the flesh of cadavers they’d dissected during their research. Waste not, want not, I suppose.
Just in time for October, today’s Mini Monday has a touch of the macabre. This is Microtus, created and bound by Dan Essig. It is a small blank book bound in oak boards and sewn with a Coptic stitch, which allows the book to open flat. My favorite part about this book, however, is the inlay on the front cover. Behind the mica window are three tiny, delicate vole ribs. A miniature book inlaid with miniature bones—what’s not to love?
Essig, Dan. Microtus. Asheville: Dan Essig, 1999. Copy 99. Charlotte Smith Miniatures Collection N7433.4.E88 M5 1999
I decided to follow the Stakeout assignment using the theme of portraiture and a time frame of 40 hours. I recorded it all in a book which I made and bound because I felt it reflected the rough and strung together nature of the photos that were produced as a result of the project.
Over a period of 6 days I was able to record 40 hours worth of curious people who took selfies with disposable cameras I left in various locations including my home town and St Pancras International in London. I started with 3 cameras and ended with 2, and gained around 40 wonderful photographs.
I’ve included a few pages from the book and a selection of my favourite images. This was super exciting to do.
The cover is cerulean blue with metallic gold, and the spine is brown pleather, complete with a blue ribbon bookmark, and illustrations. The book itself is 8”x 6”, and has a total of 177 pages. All of which was crafted with much care.
I have been waiting to post this for like 2 months, But here it is!
Fine bindings and tools from “alumni” and friends of the UIowa Conservation Lab will be sold in an online auction THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13th.
All proceeds will benefit the William Anthony Conservation Fund, which supports ongoing conservation activities and special projects. Please visit our blog:http://blog.lib.uiowa.edu/preservation for more details
You can submit bids today! To bid on any of the bindings, please email us at email@example.com. Bids will be accepted until the end of the silent auction, 7 pm CST on Thursday November 13th.
The bindings above are from Gary Frost, Mark Esser, Pamela Spitzmueller, Penny McKean, William Minter, and tools from Shanna Leino.