3.1.6: 1725 - 1830 - Bookbinding (including bookbinderies)

The bookbinding from 1725 and later did not differ from its predecessor. The techniques described for the earlier period remained in use up until 1800. The importance of the vellum binding with thongs laced through as a utilitarian binding gradually declined; it was replaced by the binding in calf tooled on the spine only. Halfway through the century, the cheap half binding appeared where the spine and the adjacent part of the boards, and sometimes also the corners, were covered with a better material (leather or vellum) and the rest with paper. The binding with a flat spine returned around 1770 where the bands were recessed into saw cuts.

The eighteenth century was the heyday of the luxury binding. The craft was practised in almost every town of any importance, especially in trading or administrative centres and in the university towns. The style of decoration differed per town but almost always followed the pattern in the frames, corners and centre, in many variations. Bindings from Amsterdam were often overly embellished; special materials were not avoided, nor were unusual combinations of techniques. Examples are painted vellum, paper onlay, a locally cut out cover making another one visible underneath and the twin binding consisting of two bindings attached to one another by a joint board. Especially prominent were the anonymous workshop called the `Double Drawer-Handle Bindery, Jacobus C. Schoots van Capelle and the (also anonymous) Van-Damme Bindery. The binding from The Hague was more refined in character and although special materials and techniques were hardly used, a number of The Hague binders or binderies such as the anonymous First Stadholder Bindery, Christiaan Micke and Thomas van Os, produced the very best pieces known from this period. Bindings from Middelburg share the characteristics of those from Amsterdam and The Hague. The most important binders were Suenonius Mandelgreen and Jan Dane. Hendrik de Haas worked in Dordrecht and his importance lies in the fact that he was the first to publish an account of his craft in Dutch.

Paper marbled in the trough, used in the seventeenth century only occasionally for end leaves, became more and more common and was eventually used even for the end leaves or board covering of cheap utilitarian bindings. For special pieces, brocade paperor block-printed paper was used where the latter gradually became more and more common.

The sharpest delineation in the history of bookbinding came around 1800 when everything changed. The technique of recessed bands replaced that of raised bands where the covering material was no longer glued directly on to the spine but to a piece of cardboard, allowing the hollow back to come loose when the book was opened. The spine remained flat or had false bands (often called fake raised bands). Around 1800, morocco was replaced by saffian, a type of leather (mostly sheep) with an artificial striped grain. From the end of the eighteenth century, tree-marbling appeared alongside the usual marbling of calf. The tendency towards refinement in details which characterises hand-made binding up to the present is an early nineteenth-century phenomenon. More than previously, decoration followed the French style. Major binders were Abraham van Rossum of Amsterdam and Willem Carbentus of The Hague, both court bookbinders and still working after 1830.

The prize binding gradually became more important and then faded from view again in the nineteenth century before disappearing altogether around 1850. In the eighteenth century thousands were made and distributed to the dozens of grammar schools in the Republic and the large production figures for extensively annotated editions of the classics were probably partly based on these sales. Initially, for the smaller formats, this binding was exclusively made of vellum with laced through thongs, but in the course of the eighteenth century a number of schools switched over to calf and more did so in the nineteenth century.

The publisher's binding remained an exception during this period, most books were given their first real binding by order of the owner. But in the eighteenth century, the printed cover, the direct predecessor of the industrially produced publisher's binding, appeared. This binding of simple paper was printed by the publisher with the title, possibly an advertisement and an ornamental frame in the same typeface as the book. The oldest known Dutch example dates from 1764.

author: Jan Storm van Leeuwen

Bookbinding (including bookbinderies)