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1450 – 1770
344 pages • 508 illustrations • cloth, sewn
isbn 9781940965239 • $115.00
This book is first and foremost a handbook for the identification and dating of bookbindings made in Cambridge during the handpress period. Cambridge was a major centre of English binding work, and countless thousands of books were constructed and sold there. This is the first time that Cambridge bookbinding has been systematically and comprehensively documented, covering bindings of all kinds from the simple to the elaborate.
Generously illustrated with over a hundred full-colour illustrations of bindings, it also includes 365 photographs of binding tools, reproduced actual size. A chronological narrative of the evolution of binding styles and practices is explained in the context of the book trade more broadly, supplemented by a biographical directory of Cambridge binders, consideration of customers and trade networks, and an account of stationery binding work.
Book historians recognise the importance of material evidence in exploring the interfaces between people and books. Every historic binding tells a story, as a unique, handcrafted object, manifesting the choices and motives of early owners. This book, published in connection with the 2023 Sandars Lectures, will enhance our understanding of the ownership, circulation, and use of books in early modern Cambridge. It also argues for, and adds to, the better integration of bookbinding studies into our book-historical landscape.