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Daemon
Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2015 12:00:00 AM
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Bookbinding

The craft of bookbinding began simply, with the use of boards to protect parchment manuscripts. By the 2nd century, sheets of parchment were being folded and sewn together. During the Middle Ages, the practice of making fine bindings for these sewn volumes rose to great heights; books were rare and precious articles, and many were treated with exquisite gilded and jeweled bindings. What is the uncommon practice of binding books in human skin, a technique dating back to the 17th century, called? More...
Sayyed Hassan
Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2015 9:35:50 AM

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Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets that are folded together into sections or sometimes left as a stack of individual sheets. The stack is then bound together along one edge by either sewing with thread through the folds or by a layer of flexible adhesive. For protection, the bound stack is either wrapped in a flexible cover or attached to stiff boards. Finally, an attractive cover is adhered to the boards and a label with identifying information is attached to the covers along with additional decoration. Book artists or specialists in book decoration can greatly expand the previous explanation to include book like objects of visual art with high value and artistic merit of exceptional quality in addition to the book's content of text and illustrations.
monamagda
Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2015 8:21:41 PM

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The macabre world of books bound in human skin

The process of binding books using human flesh is known as ‘anthropodermic bibliopegy’. One of the earlier examples dates from the 17th century and currently resides in Langdell Law Library at Harvard University. It is a Spanish law book published in 1605. The colour of the binding is a ‘subdued yellow, with sporadic brown and black splotches like an old banana’. [1] On the last page, there is an inscription which reads:

The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma [possibly an African tribe from modern-day Zimbabwe, see below illustration] on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace. [2]


Anthropodermic bibliopegy reached its height of popularity during the French Revolution, when a fresh supply of bodies was always available. All sorts of books were wrapped in human skins, including a collection of poems by John Milton. One of the last known books to be bound in this fashion dates from 1893 and currently resides at Brown University. The binder did not have quite enough skin for the book, and thus split the piece into two – the front cover is bound using the outer layer of skin; the back cover and spine are bound using the inner layer of skin.

If you didn’t know better, you would think it was suede.


1. Samuel P. Jacobs, ‘The Skinny on Harvard’s Rare Book Collection’, The Crimson (2 February 2006).
2. Qtd. from Ibid.one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace. [2]


http://thechirurgeonsapprentice.com/2012/01/31/books-of-human-flesh-the-history-behind-anthropodermic-bibliopegy/
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