Bindings in the Spotlight (4)

S.18.36, front

This presentation copy of Gesner’s Historia animalium (Zurich, 1551) was bound for Edward VI. The initials ‘ER’ are in three panels on the spine. Gold-tooled decorative bindings such as this were popular during the sixteenth century in England. The decoration was achieved by pressing heated tools through gold leaf into the leather. The binding is brown calf with the royal arms bearing the motto of the Order of the Garter: ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’. The arms on the cover are built up by a series of gouges (created using a single-line finishing tool with a curved edge which forms a segment of a concentric circle) and fillets (a plain line – or sometimes parallel lines – created using a wheel-shaped finishing tool). Below is the motto of the British monarch: ‘Dieu et mon droit’. This inscription is also on the plain, gauffered edges. Gauffering involves using heated finishing tools or rolls to produce indented repeat patterns.

The tooled work on this binding has elements in common with another binding on a volume now in the Pierpont Morgan Library which formerly belonged to Anne Bacon (c. 1528-1610) see here. The correspondences between these two bindings confirm that this binding is English. The volume was donated to the Library by Sir Henry Puckering (alias Newton) some time between 1691 and 1701.




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