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Leather Bound Books of the Early Victorian Period

At the beginning of the 19th century the old method of printing and binding books remained virtually unchanged since the invention of printing in the 15th century.  Until the early 1820s books were not sold ready-bound; rather as loose sheets, sometimes in paper covers, allowing them to be easily transported and bound according to the purchaser’s wishes.

The equipment required by the book binder was relatively simple; a bone folder for folding printed sheets, a needle and thread for sewing the gatherings (page sections); glue and paste; a backing hammer; various boards for shaping and pressing the book; a plough (for cutting book edges); and a variety of presses used to stabilise the book throughout the numerous binding and finishing processes.

A bookbinder of the early 19th century would sew the gatherings together to form the text-block which, in turn, was laced onto boards and then covered entirely (full binding) or partially over its spine and corners (half binding) with leather – usually goatskin (morocco) with its definite grain or calf with its smooth surface.  A brazier would then be used to heat the letters, as well as the brass rolls and fillets which were used to create the gold-leaf titles and decorative gilt patterns on the cover and spine.

The books in this cabinet represent some of the finest examples of hand bookbinding using calf and goatskin, each one an exhibition in itself of its binder’s artistic talent and skill at precision gold-tooling.

Cabinet 1

The Poets of the Nineteenth Century: Selected and Edited by the Rev. Robert Aris Willmott, incumbent of Earlwood. Illustrated with One Hundred Engravings, Drawn by Eminent Artists, and Engraved by the Brothers Dalziel. London: George Routledge & Co. 1858 Maroon sheepskin with gold-tooled border to front and rear cover.  Dentelle edges.  Board edges and turn-ins tooled with gilt rolls.  Six-panel spine with gilt compartments. Marbled endpapers and all edges gilt. More photos...
RB 821.708 W73.3

The Poets of the Nineteenth Century...Rev. Robert Aris Willmott. 1858

The Great Civil War of the Times of Charles I. and Cromwell. By the Rev. Richard Cattermole, B.D.; With Thirty Highly-finished Engravings, From Drawings by George Cattermole, Esq. London: Henry G. Bohn. 1852 Dark green grained morocco (goatskin), hand gold and blind tooling to front and rear cover, dentelle edges and gold tooling to board edges.  Six-panel spine with gold-blocked compartments and double headband.  All edges gilt.
RB 942.062 C368g

The Great Civil War of the Times of Charles I. and Cromwell. By the Rev. Richard Cattermole. 1852

Missions in Western Polynesia: Being Historical Sketches of These Missions, From Their Commencement in 1839 to the Present Time. A.W. Murray. London: John Snow. 1863 Burgundy morocco, gold tooling and blind stamping to front and rear cover, blind tooling to squares (inner edges) and gold tooling to board edges.  Six-panel spine with elaborate gilt compartments.  All edges gilt.
PACIFIC 266 M98mi

Missions in Western Polynesia: Being Historical Sketches of These Missions, From Their Commencement in 1839 to the Present Time. A.W. Murray. 1863

Sketches by Seymour. Robert Seymour. London: G.S. Tregear, undated but circa 1863. Full polished calf binding with decorative gold hand-tooling and stamping to front and rear cover.  Gilt raised bands with twin labels, dentelle edging and gold-tooled board edges.  Marbled endpapers with gold vein printed over Spanish moiré (waves) on a Turkish pattern.  All edges gilt. More photos...
RB 741.594 S521s

Sketches by Seymour. Robert Seymour. 1863

The Claims of Labour: An Essay on the Duties of the Employers to the Employed. Sir Arthur Helps. London: William Pickering. 1844 Half-bound in vellum with decorative marbled paper sidings.  Gold tooling to contrasting leather spine label and to vellum edges.  Deckled (irregular-shaped) page edges on fore-edge and tail.
RB 331.0942 H48

Claims of Labour: An Essay on the Duties of the Employers to the Employed. Sir Arthur Helps. 1844

The Martyr of Erromanga, or, the Philosophy of Missions, Illustrated from the Labours, Death and Character of the Late Rev. John Williams. John Campbell. London: John Snow. 1842 Levant (probably Morocco) binding with blind tooling and gold stamping to front and rear cover.  Gold stamping to spine, dentelle edges, and board edges tooled with gilt rolls.  All edges gilt.
PACIFIC 266 C188

The Martyr of Erromanga, or, the Philosophy of Missions, Illustrated from the Labours, Death and Character of the Late Rev. John Williams. John Campbell. 1842

National Lyrics, and Songs for Music. Felicia Hemans. Dublin: Curry Jun. and Company; London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1834-1835Red morocco with gilt rules.  Blind and gold-tooled decorative border to front and rear cover and gilt tooling on spine.  Red leather and dark green silk doublures, also with blind and gold tooling and lettering.  All edges gilt.  More photos...
RB 821.79 H48n

National Lyrics, and Songs for Music. Felicia Hemans. 1834-1835
Rare Books & Special Collections
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The University of Adelaide
Rare Books & Special Collections
Level 1, Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005
Australia

Contact

Phone: +61 8 8313 5224
library_special@adelaide.edu.au