Binding Books
The Binding of Books
An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled
Bindings by Herbert P. Horne
London 1894
English Bindings 13
These bindings must be considered apart from the productions of the stationers and professed
bookbinders, as the first and most remarkable examples of gold-tooling executed, in this
country, by amateurs. Of Nicholas Ferrar and his family, it is not necessary here to speak: for
their history has attracted more than common attention, within the last few years; especially on
account of Mr. Shorthouse's romance, John Inglesant, in which a picture of their community, and
the figure of Mary Collet, conspicuously occur. I shall, therefore, speak only of the bindings
executed by them. 'Amongst other articles of instruction and amusement,' Dr. Peckard tells us, ,
Mr. Ferrar entertained an ingenious bookbinder who taught the family, females as well as males,
the whole art and skill of bookbinding, gilding, lettering, and what they called pasting-printing,
by the use of the rolling-press.' It appears, from John Ferrar's life of his brother, that the person,
who taught the family, was a bookbinder's daughter of Cambridge. 'By this assistance,'
continues Peckard, , he composed a full Harmony, or Concordance of the four Evangelists,
adorned with many beautiful pictures, which required more than a year for the composition, and
was divided into IS0 heads or chapters. For this purpose he set apart a handsome room near
the oratory.' Elsewhere, John Ferrar gives a description of this' long fair spacious room,' which,
he says they named the concordance chamber, wherein were large tables round the sides of
the walls, placed for their better conveniences and contrivement of their works of this and the
like kind; and therein also were placed two very large and great presses, which were turned
with iron bars, for the effecting of their designs.' This room was 'all colored over with green
pleasant colour varnished, for the more pleasure to their eyes, and a chimney in it for more
warmth, as occasion served': while upon the walls were written various legends, as ' Thou art
too delicate, 0 brother, if thou desirest to reign both here with the world, and hereafter to reign
with Christ in heaven,' and other such sentences. Here, according to the former narrative, John
Ferrar, having provided two copies of the Gospels of the same edition, 'spent more than an hour
every day in the contrivance of this book, and in directing his nieces, who attended him for that
purpose, how they should cut out such and such particular passages out of the two printed
copies of any part of each Evangelist, and then lay them together so as to perfect such a head
or chapter as he designed. This they did first roughly, and then with nice knives, and scissors so
neatly fitted each passage to the next belonging to it, and afterwards pasted them so even and
smoothly together, upon large sheets of the best white paper, by the help of the rolling-press,
that many curious persons who saw the work when it was done, were deceived, and thought
that it had been printed in the ordinary way.' The fame of this book, which had been.
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