This book. This book is made with much love. Ivan is a very dear friend, and has been, in my heart, a Knight for a very long time.He and I once talked about the value of books in the medieval period, and of how some libraries chained their treasured possessions to the bookshelves so they did not go out on “permanent loan.” I decided to use this as my inspiration for the book for his Vigil to comtemplate elevation to the Order of the Chivalry at Mudthaw in Settmour Swamp on March 28, 2015 by Edward and Thyra.
About the Book
The paper is from the Fabriano paper mill, in operation since the 13th C. The leather is vegetable tanned Hudson Valley deer from Pergamena, a nod to Ivan’s modern home and to the fine, researched talents of the Meyer family, a long line of tanners and leatherworkers who have been honing their craft since 1550 in Germany.
The sheets of paper come 70cm x 100cm (@27.5” x 39”). Each is folded thrice to achieve an octavo. The signatures are stacked and pressed to give a good crease to the spine edge. The book is bound on linen tapes in three sewing stations with linen thread. After the text block was sewn it was placed in the press of the plough to have the edges trimmed square and even. The text block was attached to the cover boards by lacing and gluing the linen tapes to the boards with hide glue. In period this mostly likely would have been rabbit glue, as the other hides were being used for parchment. The leather covering was applied, and the decorative bosses. Finally, in a nod to modern convenience and with a modern knowledge of the damage done to books over time, the chain was added to the bottom of the spine rather than to the cover directly. The link at the end of the chain is a smaller version of the Knight’s chain Ivan had on his wish list, from the same artisan – Crafty Celts.
The process of bookbinding by hand sewing today is not that much different than it was in period. The primary difference from their methods to mine for this book would have been in the receiving of a printed or scribed text block. These pages were blank, and so I did the folio folding myself and did not need to calculate imposition. Additional differences are in finishing tools: I take my wood covers one step further by sanding rather than leaving them as planed, and the plane on my plough is machine made rather than by a smith. Materials and tools are acquired in the same manner, even if they are not entirely made in the same matter.
Notes from binding: this paper is sooooo lovely! It is rag. It WRINKLES WHEN YOU FOLD IT! Gah! Take your time and give yourself plenty of space. Pre-drill the holes for the furniture (brads) in the cover and use sufficient glue.
A Brief Overview of Chained Books
Chained libraries are quaint and amusing to the modern reader who think electronic forms of entertainment are more costly and therefore more valued. To the medieval scholar, the book was sacred, expensive, and a treasure to protect.
The Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral
One of the most famous of extant chained libraries. Currently exhibited as it was in 1611. The library itself has been a working research center since the 12th C. and contains 229 medieval works in the Chained Library, including the 8th C Hereford Gospels.
Note the books are shelved “backwards” to our minds. We see the edge of the text-block rather than the spine, with whatever label it may carry. This is called foredge shelving, and it’s not backwards so much as the foredge – the edge you open – is flat on the shelf, with the spine up. The utility for finding books shelved this way is questionable, but as you can see there are frames for shelf indexes at the end of each unit. The foredge is placed down so that the chain does not tangle when the book is taken down to read. In this library the chain is attached to the front cover of the book at the top, and the other end slipped on to a rod at the front the case. For the record, don’t do this to your books! It damages both the foredge and the spine.
Examples of chained books:
See the British Library Bookbinding Database for more information.