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Girdle books & Warning



In message Thu, 14 Jul 1994 10:43:48 -0400,
  Jeff Peachey <jp46@columbia.edu>  writes:
> On Wed, 13 Jul 1994 LABN@db1.cc.rochester.edu wrote:
>
>
>> How do you see the function of the book?
>>
>
> when we approach a book, it seems we have a different set of expectations
> than when we approach a painting or ceramic mug.  even if dealing with a
> totally visual book, as opposed to a painting or series of paintings,
> there seems to be the aura of a symbolic system. perhaps one
> of the main functions of early manuscripts and minitures was to provide a
> visible, sculptural presence to wow the illiterate into forking their
> money over to the church. a girdle binding for example.
>
Correction. A girdle binding was/is a very functional way of carrying a
book. It was a way for people who wanted to carry their bibles or other
devotionals to be able to read them while walking or riding, then drop them
without lossing them when they had to watch where they were going. That is
also why the long part w/knot was at the tail(bottom). The extra large,
loose yapp edges also protected the text. If you wanted to wow the
illiterate peasants you held up the treasue bindings with built-in
reliquery, a nail from the "true cross" or bone fragment from a saint. There
was also a much easier way. Tell them if they wanted absolution, to pay for
the certificate, good till the next sin was committed.

I like the warning, but let's not get carried away here, OK.

Peter D. Verheyen
Rare Books Conservator
B-39 Olin Library
Cornell University Library
Ithaca, NY 14853
607 / 255-2484


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