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A brief look at book closures Amanda Focke, WRC staff & Susan Meadows, WRC volunteer.

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Presentation on theme: "A brief look at book closures Amanda Focke, WRC staff & Susan Meadows, WRC volunteer."— Presentation transcript:

1 A brief look at book closures Amanda Focke, WRC staff & Susan Meadows, WRC volunteer

2 Beginnings – Single Straps Book closures around as early as the codex itself, such as a strap wrapping around a Coptic binding and tucking into itself (4 th century A.D., Egypt) Other early formats include loops or straps with metal edged holes fitting over pins or pegs

3 Multiple straps and Clasps & catches 13 and 14 th century, use of more than one strap emerges 14 th century, hole and pin method being replaced by metal clasps and catches on the fore edge 15 th and 16 th century metal clasp styles typically follow national traditions and can indicate country of origin

4 In bindings of the 15th and 16th centuries, and probably earlier, the location of the clasp is a reasonably accurate indication of the country of origin. English and French bindings usually had them attached to the upper cover with the catch on the lower, while bindings of the Netherlands and Germany had the catch on the upper cover. Italian binders often attached the clasp to the upper covers and often used as many as four clasps.

5 Ties that bind In 16 th century, metal clasps used less frequently as pasteboard covers replace wood Ties used where clasps might have been used before Brass and silver clasps, corner pieces, centerpieces continue to be used for special books such as Bibles, diaries, photograph albums.

6 Vellum binding with silk ties 16 th century Italy Ties emerge from hole punched through vellum, and are pasted down under endpaper Collection of motets for cantus – Renaissance choral religious music arrangements. Title: Novi thesauri musici : liber primus [-quintus] quo selectissime planeq : nouae, mec unquam in lucem aeditae cantiones sacrae (quas vulgo moteta vocant) cotinentur octo, septem, sex, quinq … Venetijs : Apud Antonium Gardanum, Rice call #: WRC M2082 N

7 Full view of outside

8 View of inside cover

9 Clasps 16 th century Germany Bibliotheca sancta / à F. Sixto Senensi... ex praecipuis Catholicae Ecclesiae autoribus collecta, & in octo libros digesta... Francofurti : ex officina typographica Nicolai Bassaei, Bibliotheca sancta / à F. Sixto Senensi... ex praecipuis Catholicae Ecclesiae autoribus collecta, & in octo libros digesta... Bible – criticism and interpretation Monastic binding with chain at top

10 Full description Monastic binding, blind-stamped pigskin over beveled oak boards, with two engraved brass clasps, brass brads remaining from eight metal corners (now lost). Iron pivot-ring with chain of eleven elongated links (total length 22.3 cm.) attached by iron bracket to back cover. Binding stamps (all repeated) include emblematic portraits of theological Virtues, that of "Fides" bearing initials "NW"; smaller circular portrait stamps have initials "IO," "PH," and "M."

11 Chain attached to back cover

12 Short strap with a bone finish 17 th century China A trimmed down relative of an early Coptic closure, which included a strap coming out of the front cover, winding around several times, and tucking in itself, with a small piece of bone to finish the strap. Title: Liu jing tu / Yang Jia zhuan, Mao Banghan bu. [China] : Wu Jishi, [Ming Wanli 43 nian i.e. 1615]. 8 v. in one case.Liu jing tu / Yang Jia zhuan, Mao Banghan bu Rice call #: WRC PL 2461.Z6 L58 Classic Chinese literature: commentaries and illustrations

13 View of closed wrapper

14 Inside Text pages are original from 1615 The binding and wrapper are more modern, date unknown

15 Metal clasp and hinges 17 th century Netherlands In this example, the metal catch attaches to the upper cover, which was a common practice in Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. Title: Gerardi Ionnis Vossii De arte grammatica libri septem. Amsterdami, Apud Guilielmum Blaev, 1635.Gerardi Ionnis Vossii De arte grammatica libri septem. Rice call #: P151. V67 Latin grammar book

16 Close-up views

17 Three leather ties 19 th century Mexico Leather ties, vellum binding Title:Verdadera idea de la primera campaña de Tejas y sucesos ocurridos después de la acción de San Jacinto, por D. Ramon Martínez Caro. [Mexico]: Impr. de Santiago Perez a cargo de A. Sojo, 1837.Verdadera idea de la primera campaña de Tejas y sucesos ocurridos después de la acción de San Jacinto, por D. Ramon Martínez Caro. Rice call #: F 390.M38

18 Full view ties emerge from edge Caro was secretary to Mexico’s General Santa Anna The text pages are original 1837 This fine binding was created later and features the Republic of Texas seal on the back cover.

19 Turn-of-the-century decorative metal clasps and hinges 19 th century U.S.A. Title: The altar book: containing the order for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist according to the use of the American church: MDCCCXCII : Boston, D. B. Updike, Rice call number: WRC BX C75 A3 1896

20 Close-up views

21 Pin and hole closure 20 th century London The poems and sonnets of Shakspere [Shakespeare] / with an introduction by Edward Dowden. London : K. Paul, Trench Trübner, The poems and sonnets of Shakspere [Shakespeare] / with an introduction by Edward Dowden. Rice call # WRC PR 2841.A2 D This edition is printed on Arnold and Foster's unbleached hand-made paper. The title-page, initial letters, and other decorations have been designed by Mr. W. B. Macdougall. # 167 of 400.

22 Metal pin and hole with leather straps

23 Aluminum box closure 20 th century U.S.A. Flatland : a romance of many dimensions / by Edwin Abbott Abbott (Square). San Francisco (566 Commercial St., San Francisco, CA 94111) : Arion Press, Flatland : a romance of many dimensions / by Edwin Abbott Abbott (Square). Accordion book with metal covers, closed in metal edges forming box. Rice call # WRC QA699.A

24 Flatland opened

25 Many more interesting closures at Woodson Research Center The Rothschild miscellany. : A fine full-color modern facsimile edition of a 15th cent. northern Italian Hebrew manuscripts which consists of 37 literary units illuminated at the workshops of Bonifacio Bembo and Cristoforo De Predis. Call # Z115.4.R The Rothschild miscellany. Contact staff for more at or

26 Resources Book clasp general background Silver & vellum book clasps how-to Constructing metal book clasps Clasps Ties Jim Croft workshops ways-bookmaking-and-tool-workshops-by-jim-croft/http://kilgarlinites.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/old- ways-bookmaking-and-tool-workshops-by-jim-croft/ More historic clasp examples ml ml


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