library binding


Here is some eye candy to start your day: beautiful 19th century covers from the Hevelin Collection.  

Moore, Thomas, Lalla Rookh. Chicago and New York: Belford, Clarke & Company, date unknown.

The author of “The Dancing Imps of the Wine," The Adventures of an Atom. New York: Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1880


This beautiful 1901 Book of Common Prayer is an example of what’s called a vellucent binding.  The method involves painting a design on vellum (and, in this case, adding mother of pearl inlays to the painting), then stretching a very thin, transparent layer of vellum over the painting to protect it.  Gold tooling was then added to this outer layer.

The method was developed by a man named Cedric Chivers sometime around 1898, when he first began exhibiting his bindings.  Chivers is known to have employed women to create the paintings themselves.

Although vellucent bindings are beautiful, it seems they were not especially profitable for Chivers; eventually, he gave up the endeavor, and instead pursued a career in commercial library binding.