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11 - Bookbindings

from PART I - THE MAKING OF BOOKS

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2012

Richard Gameson
Affiliation:
University of Durham
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Summary

Among the tenth-century notes added to the end of the Lindisfarne Gospels is one concerning the production of the manuscript:

Eadfrith … originally wrote this book … And Æthilwald … impressed it on the outside and covered it … And Billfrith … forged the ornaments which are on it on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems and also with gilded-over silver – pure metal.

Whatever the status of this text, the inclusion of the names of a binder and a goldsmith is very unusual among pre-Conquest records of book production. A binder would have covered the ‘outside’ of a manuscript – the Lindisfarne text does not specify with what, and the meaning of ‘impressing’ the cover is uncertain – and a goldsmith would have decorated it. However, a binder would usually do more than merely covering the outside, although his other work is mostly invisible when completed. There are four main operations in binding a manuscript: first, sewing the quires together; second, attaching the boards (which may or may not have been made by the binder); third, covering the boards; and, last, decorating the covers. Æthilwald was only attributed the third of these operations in the Lindisfarne text, and Billfrith was credited with the fourth.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Bookbindings
  • Edited by Richard Gameson, University of Durham
  • Book: The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain
  • Online publication: 28 March 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521583459.012
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  • Bookbindings
  • Edited by Richard Gameson, University of Durham
  • Book: The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain
  • Online publication: 28 March 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521583459.012
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Bookbindings
  • Edited by Richard Gameson, University of Durham
  • Book: The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain
  • Online publication: 28 March 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521583459.012
Available formats
×