This course is now fully booked.

The aim of this course is to equip participants with the skills necessary to identify and date English bindings on historical books of the handpress period. Every historic binding tells a story, not only around when it was made or repaired, but also around the choices and motives of owners. What are the key questions to ask, and what knowledge is needed in order to answer them?

This course puts practical guidance on recognising bindings into that investigative framework. It will focus mainly on English bindings, but with reference to and comparison with binding work across Europe more widely.

The course is aimed at anyone with an interest in historical books or who works regularly with them: librarians and curators; students and teachers of bibliography, book history, and library science; book collectors and dealers; and general enthusiasts. 

The Taylor Library was established in 1596

The course is run in collaboration with Shrewsbury School and will be held at the School’s historic Taylor Library. This remarkable and rare survival of a historic school library contains over 8000 volumes, with a wide range of binding examples from all periods, many in fine and unspoilt condition; it was much used by the binding historian Basil Oldham as the base for his work.


Course participants will have the opportunity to discover the riches of this collection, whose books will be used to illustrate the teaching.

This short course is part of the London Rare Books School programme.

Course Information

Course Fees

  • Standard Rate: £450
  • Concession* Rate: £350


The course fee includes the provision of lunch on the second and third days, tea and coffee breaks, and a dinner on the evening of Thursday 11 April. 

Course Structure

  • Wednesday 10 April: 14.00-17.30
  • Thursday 11 April: 09.30-17.00 (followed by an opportunity to view items in the Taylor Library)
  • Friday 12 April: 09.30-15.30  

The course will consist of nine classes of 90 minutes spread across two-and-half days. 

There will be an optional tour of the school grounds after the final class on Wednesday 10 April and a dinner in the school dining room on the evening of Thursday 11 April. In addition, there will be an optional tour of the library at Attingham Park, a nearby National Trust property, on Saturday 13 April. 


The course is run in collaboration with Shrewsbury School and will be held at the School’s historic Taylor Library which contains over 8000 volumes including a wide range of binding examples from all periods. Books from the library will be used to illustrate the teaching. 

Directions on how to get to the school.


Participants are responsible for arranging their own accommodation. For a list of recommended places to stay as well as other information about the town and surrounding area click here

Course Enquiries

If you have any enquiries relating to this short course, please contact the IES Events Office:

Course Tutor

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Places are limited and offered on a first come basis

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