Book historians have become increasingly adept at interrogating the material evidence in historic books, to understand what it can tell us about reading, ownership, impact and influence. Among the various types of evidence we encounter, bookbindings remain one of the least well-understood or interpreted, partly because there is little training available, and partly because the subject has something of an art-historical mystique. Too much effort has been directed towards a quest to identify bookbinders, and much of the literature is more directed to collectors or conservators, than to historians.
Every historic binding tells a story, which ought to be brought in to any analysis of material evidence. What are the key questions to ask, and what skills are needed in order to answer them? This course puts practical guidance on recognising and dating bindings into that investigative context. It has been adapted for the online environment from a week-long course which has been successfully taught at the Rare Book Schools in London, Virginia and Sydney; it cannot cover the topic in as much depth as the full course, but focuses on essential knowledge.
Courses fees are £175 (standard) and £100 (student).