With items dating back to the mid C15th, the style of bindings in NUIG’s special collections range from blind-tooled velvet and fragile sheepskin to simple stabbed quires and alum-tawed boards. Items are rarely signed, which was the norm during the early years of hand-printed book production, but this does not take away from the craftsmanship evident in many items. Thankfully, the method of using toolmarks to identify individual bookbinders or to, at the very least, narrow down the era and possibly location of a binding, is making the work of the rare books cataloguer somewhat easier
An example of fine unsigned C18th work binds Some familiar letters between Mr. Locke, and several of his friends (London: A. and J. Churchill, 1708). The ‘Cambridge panel’ style of blocked binding is used here, a style which came into vogue in the late C17th and remained popular until the middle of the C18th, and generally used three panels of patterned leathers. This binding employs three separate leather panels offset by tulip cornerpieces. The outer and centre panels are sprinkled, whilst the middle panel is marbled. Blind-tooling, the usual form of decoration in the ‘Cambridge panel’ style, completes the binder’s work.
A variation on the ‘Cambridge panel’ style has been used to bind The indictment, arraignment, tryal, and judgment, at large, of twenty-nine regicides, the murtherers of His Most Sacred Majesty King Charles the Ist, of glorious memory (London: J. Walthoe, 1724). Sprinkled leather is used again here in the outermost and central panels, whilst the middle panel is of unsprinkled leather and framed by a blind triangular stamp. The motif is repeated around the rims inside the covers.
If you would like to view/ consult either item, or indeed any of the bindings in our collections, please submit an online request or contact the staff of the Special Collections Reading Room in the Hardiman Building at email@example.com.