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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Examples of Binding

Gothic Binding

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Josephus, Flavius. 

[Antiquities of the Jews. — Augsburg: Johann Schüssler, 28 June–23 August 1470] [with] Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, [Ecclesiastical history (manuscript in Latin), southern Germany, 1462].

This binding of this imposing volume consists of two heavy beveled wooden boards covered in pigskin.  The covers retain their clasps, as well as their original brass center and corner bosses, important factors in the book’s exceptional state of preservation.  The binding is exuberantly stamped in blind with fleurons, floral roundels and lozenges, square panels of mythical beasts, and borders of strapwork. The stamps are distinctive, and can be linked with the monastic bindery of St. Mang at Füssen, near Munich.

Edward VI Presentation Binding

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Bale, John.

Illustrium maioris Britanniae scriptorium …. — Ipswich: John Overton [i.e., W. D. van der Straten], 1548.

The Library’s copy of John Bale’s bibliography of English writers retains its original royal presentation binding: calf over wooden boards, with a roll border of medallion heads and other Renaissance ornamentation surrounding a central blind-stamped panel of the Crucifixion. The binding is undoubtedly contemporary German work, as decorations have been found in Heidelberg bindings of about this period. The inscription “Edwardus A[n]glo[rum] Rex” was probably added in England before the book was presented to Edward VI, who died at the age of sixteen in 1553 after a reign of only six years.  

Gift of Lucius Wilmerding, 1932.

Italian Cut Vellum Binding

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Dybvad, Christoffer.

C. Dibuadii in arithmeticam … Euclidis … libris comprehensam demonstratio. — Arnhem: Jan Jansz, 1605. 

The charm of this contemporary Italian gilt vellum binding lies in its use of cut-outs in the shape of hearts, crosses, lozenges and scallops.  The resulting intricate open-work pattern reveals underlays of pink and green silk, now faded.

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, 1903.

Manuscript record book of a German society of master saddlers, 1758–1820.

This German binding from the eighteenth century is of panelled calf with bronze cornerpieces representing objects connected with the saddler’s craft; the central medallions on the upper and lower covers depict Justice, and Love.

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr. 

Metal & Other Curious Bindings 

The Grolier Club Library owns over sixty bindings in silver, silver-gilt, brass, steel, tortoise-shell, and other other unusual materials. Nearly all were donated by members Samuel Putnam Avery (1822–1904) and Beverly Chew (1850–1924); much of the collection was shown publically in 1903 as part of the Club’s Exhibition of silver, embroidered and curious bookbindings. 

Turkish, seventeenth-century

Koran case in silver repoussé, with a design of pomegranates and other Islamic symbols; the chain at-tached the case to a belt or girdle.

Gift of Beverly Chew.

Flemish, eighteenth century

Tortoise-shell trimmed with silver; the chain and hook attached the book to a belt or girdle.

Gift of Beverly Chew.

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Persian, seventeenth century.

Koran binding of leather painted with flowers and leaves on a gold ground. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr., 1918.

Ulm, Germany, ca. 1725.

Bindings of “dutch gilt” paper made by Georg Christoph Stoy (d. 1750).

Gift of Joseph Verner Reed, 1979. 

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French, 1783.

Almanac bound in white silk embroidered with gold and colored threads, the front cover with a stand of military insignia surmounted with the cipher of Louis XVI. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr.


Late eighteenth-century shark-skin with a silver-gilt pierced and engraved border; the central medallions are engraved ACG and dated 1797. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam. Avery, Jr.

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German, eighteenth century.

Gilt floral openwork over silver.

Gift of Samuel Putnam. Avery, Jr.

German, eighteenth century.

Red velvet with chased and pierced silver clasps. 

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr. 

French, mid seventeenth century.

Chased and pierced silver, enclosing panels of enamel, the covers featuring Biblical scenes surrounded by floral designs.

Gift of Beverly Chew.

Dutch, early eighteenth century.

Silver tulips in high-relief open-work over gilt metal.

Gift of Beverly Chew.

French, 1767.

Silver-gilt binding case for a miniature almanac, engraved with a floral pattern.

Gift of Samuel Putnam Avery, Jr.