2.1.6: 1585 - 1725 - Bookbinding (including bookbinderies)

During this period, bindings were still mainly made by order of individual customers, although some publishers offered their publications in a simple publisher's binding. Not many changes occurred during this period as far as technique or the material used are concerned. Bindings with recessed cords were not made; wooden boards were replaced more and more often by cardboard boards and ties replaced clasps. Vellum bindings flourished in the seventeenth century and were produced in several variations, with thongs laced through for the smaller book formats and with a tight back with raised bands for the larger ones. The bindings were untooled, blind tooled or gold tooled, where this latter, from about 1620 onwards, mostly pertained to prize bindings. Vellum was cheap and strong and therefore particularly suitable for the libraries of the many Dutch scholars of the seventeenth century. In addition, there were bindings in calf which, in accordance with the degree of luxury desired by the owner, were tooled in gold either only on the spine (a utilitarian binding) or also on the covers. The marbling of calf appeared in the Netherlands around 1650 as a technique for further embellishment. Morocco, made from the skin of hair sheep and originally from Morocco, is a strong, expensive type of leather which colours much better than calf and which was, as far as is known, first used in the Netherlands in 1633 but only appeared regularly in de luxe bindings around 1665. From the beginning of the century, embroidered textile, so-called sharkskin, tortoise shell and silver were, in exceptional cases, used to cover bindings. It is not known when paper wrappers came into production; they would mostly be replaced fairly soon by a more permanent binding. Marbled paper wrappers were probably produced from the beginning of the seventeenth century when this type of paper, because the technique was still a secret, was rare and expensive. Eventually, as the technique became one of the standard skills of a binder, it became cheaper and more common. We find them particularly around thin publications with a temporary value such as pamphlets, dissertations and occasional poetry. From about 1665, marbled paper was increasingly used for the outer endpapers in luxury bindings.

Stylistically, this period shows only a small number of improvements. Gold tooling, after the introduction of this technique by Plantin around 1550, penetrated during the second half of the sixteenth century into the Northern Netherlands. Cover tooling with small curled tools in the French style became the fashion in The Hague around 1650. This style was developed to a great extent from about 1665 by binders in Amsterdam, among whom Albert Magnus. The gilding and gauffering of the edge of the textblock was known in our country by the end of the Middle Ages in the form of fairly simple geometric patterns. The Netherlands never followed the French Renaissance habit of providing very luxurious bindings with beautiful interlacings on the edge or mauresque patterns. In the time of Magnus, the edge was discovered as a way to enrich luxury bindings even further. Patterns of flowers and animals, often with an emblematic background, were gauffered and painted on the edge. The demand for this was somewhat less towards the end of the century; painting the edges has not been used much since that time.

author: Jan Storm van Leeuwen

Bookbinding (including bookbinderies)