Skip to main content

Twenty-First Century Book

Modern alum-tawed chemise

Modern alum-tawed chemise.

[Michelle Warren]

Deborah’s solution aligns perfectly with other modern covers. After surveying various digital archives,3 I found the Ellesmere Chaucer the most striking for comparison, as this book is most often prized for its detailed internal decorations. Plain alum-tawed covers are also common medieval covers, illustrated here with a fifteenth-century example. Finally, the limp vellum structure is widely regarded as not only one of the most durable medieval forms but one of the most desirable for modern conservation (Clarkson).4 The Brut’s new binding is thus perfectly “timed” for a book that embodies a long history: the composite form references a venerable medieval structure (limp vellum), resonates with early modern utilitarian priorities, and reflects modern aesthetic values.

 

Notes:

3. British Library Database of Bookbindings; Digital Scriptorium; The Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection; Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts; and “Manuscripts and Rare Books” at the Walters Art Museum.

4. See also the review of Clarkson’s Limp Vellum Binding by Andrew Honey.