Back in 2011, I wrote a post about one of my favourite books in the Special Collections – a copy of Alciato’s emblem book from 1608. I talked about the binding having some interesting features, including the initials RW incorporated into the blind roll decoration. John Chalmers, a retired librarian who was once based in Oxford, now in Chicago, contacted me about the posting. And here is what he said:
“The attribution to the Oxford binder Robert Way (active in Oxford 1602-1626) by Basil Oldham has been accepted and unchallenged, although there is evidence that Way’s tools were shared with other binders in Oxford.
A characteristic of Oxford binding in this period, in addition to the dark blind-tooled calf, is manuscript endleaves, which have been studied by the late Neil Kerr, and leather or alum-tawed sewing supports.”
What I had thought were parchment sewing supports, upon closer inspection and armed with greater knowledge acquired on my book conservation course than I had at the time of writing, I could now see that the supports were, in fact, alum-tawed skins.
I am thankful to Mr. Chalmers for both his information and encouragement. I have now amended the bibliographic record binding description.
Special Collections Librarian