Bookbinding exhibition

Wooden boards, raised bands, end-leaves, vellum, blind-stamped, and fillets are all part of the exotic language of the bookbinder. An exhibition entitled 'From Pigskin to Paper: The Art and Craft of Bookbinding' will begin at Special Collections, de Beer Gallery, University of Otago Library on 20 December 2012 and run until 22 March 2013.

The exhibition aims to decode the jargon used by bookbinders, and showcase the creative 'art and craft' skills evident in all aspects of the binding process, from forwarding (construction) to finishing (decoration). To highlight the processes, a wide cross-section of binding styles are show in the exhibition, from the 1481 Rood and Hunt binding and 16th century European samples, to publisher's case-bindings. Books bound by local Dunedin binders also feature.

Ref: 4-7386, Sir George Grey Special Collections
There is an increasing amount of scholarly work being done on the bookbinding. All the information encoded into the binding of a book tell a story and provides information on the book trade, how books were sold, how they were to be used, what the prevailing fashions were, what tools the binder owned, and in some instances, the owner's taste and standing. Indeed, as book historian David Pearson claims 'all historic bindings are potentially interesting, however fine (or not) they look'.

Each major library in New Zealand has its fair share of decorative, fine bindings, with the name of the binder often stamped inside: Zaehnsdorf; Sangorski & Sutcliffe; Cockerell. There are also those books known to be bound by famous binders such as Samuel Mearne, Roger Payne, or Charles Lewis. Of course, the vast majority of bindings are simple, plain, and functional, and carry no signature or famous name. If not a recognisable publisher's house-style, most of them remain anonymous representatives, silent witnesses to the past.


  1. One of the more underhanded methods a printing company can do is to charge you with hidden fees. Hidden fees are the fees that you do not know about and yet you still end up paying them - sometimes even if you are not aware that they exist.

    Book Binding Boston

  2. Here is an interesting video about one man's passion and a very good overview of how books were traditionally made, in less than 8 minutes (please copy & paste the link into your browser):

  3. Read about the medieval book binding of one of the manuscripts (Med. MS G.132: St Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, English, second half of the twelfth century) in the Sir George Grey Special Collections, in an article by Alexandra Barratt and Alexandra Gillespie (please copy & paste this link into your browser):


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