English fifteenth century book structures
In discussing fifteenth century book structures the thesis describes those collections from which it's survey (of over three hundred bindings) was drawn. It explores the physical archaeology of the book, and considers the context of book production in the late medieval period. The technical skills of the bookbinder are considered in detail, as are the tools, materials and technologies used. The demise of the wooden boarded medieval book is compared with the great age of Romanesque bookbinding. In focusing on the collections held by Cambridge libraries, it was inevitable that there should be a strong concentration on the work of bookbinders from that city, but those from Oxford and London are well represented. The work of a number of provincial binders is also given attention. Many of the books studied were undergoing conservation work whilst being surveyed, and this has provided much information which would otherwise have never been revealed. In particular it was possible to make a detailed study of sewing techniques, and of the changing materials used in the making of sewings. Utilising a microcomputer with a powerful spreadsheet programme, the survey of three hundred books explores all aspects of English fifteenth century binding in wooden boards. Each book was catalogued in terms of nearly three hundred questions in computerised format, and the results were turned into graphs for percentage interpretation. In addition every book was recorded on a detailed survey form, supported by photographs, drawings and diagrams to provide as full a set of details as possible. The results were scrutinised to consider the impact of the growing use of paper and of the invention of printing with movable type. The cultural, social and economic demands of the medieval age are brought together as aspects which influenced the development of the book structure. The way in which books were made and used is considered in depth. The impact of mainstream historical developments in politics, religion and education are also factors which played a vital role in the history of the book during this period. The codex (in original condition) is a "time capsule", to quote Christopher Clarkson, and this research seeks to explore book production in one of the most vital centuries of its history.