42. European Bookbinding, 1500-1800
(Evaluation of RBS 1994 version of this course)
How bookbinding in the post-medieval period developed to meet
the demands placed on it by the growth of printing: techniques and
materials employed to meet these demands; the development of
temporary bindings (eg pamphlets and publishers' bindings); the
emergence of structures usually associated with volume production in
the c19; the development of decoration; the dating of undecorated
bindings; the identification of national and local binding styles.
1. How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Somewhat useful. 3: The readings were necessary to
the course. Problem was the material was difficult to obtain.
Perhaps some of the articles required could be copied and sent to
students in advance. 4: Very helpful -- essential.
5: Pollard was a very good introduction. 6: Very
useful, applicable, interesting; not difficult to locate.
Very useful, though perhaps the most useful pre-course experience
was a two-hour visit to a hand bindery. Cockerell only made sense
to me after I actually saw the tools of the trade and talked to a
binder about their use. I brought no binding experience to this
course. 8: Very helpful and I shall study them again with
the insights I've gained. 9: Pre-course readings were
extremely valuable as they indicated what the focus of the
information in the course would be. 10: I didn't have time
to read them (only scanned them briefly), but the class was so
detailed and material so well explained that I didn't feel lost.
11: G. Pollard was essential. 12: They were a must to
understand the course. 13: Readings were very useful.
15: Very useful. 16: Essential for me, with no bench
experience. I've found Middleton almost unreadable, but this forced
me to plow through, and it's all that's available.
2.Did your instructor prepare properly and sufficiently to
teach THIS course?
1-2: Yes. 3: It would be impossible to be better
prepared for a course. 4: Very well prepared. Would have
liked to have a handout with a general outline of the course.
5: Better pre-planning and tighter organization of the
information presented throughout the week would have improved the
course. 6: Obviously well-qualified far beyond the needs
of this course. 7: Yes. Best preparation possible. Handling
and studying scads and scads of early books. 8: Yes, quite!
9: I don't know who else could teach this course.
He seems to be constantly preparing for the next one. I felt I was
getting very current information on bookbinding structure.
10: Yes, extremely well prepared -- so many slides.
Absolutely. 12: Yes on content, no on teaching methods.
13: He prepared excellently. 14: Clearly expert.
synthesis of the multitude of scattered facts and slides would
helped. 15: Yes. 16: God, yes -- all his
3. Was the intellectual level of the course content
1-2: Yes. 3: I finished the course with a base of
knowledge much greater than anticipated. Very useful. 4:
Very high. 5: Yes. 6: Yes, adjusted to fit by
instructor when necessary. 7: Yes. 8: Very much so.
9: Yes. 10: Yes, NP is very good an conveying his
enthusiasm for his subject and teaching his students how to look
and what to look for. 11-12: Yes. 13: Absolutely.
15: Yes. 16: The velocity of information was rather
high. Don't know if I'd change that or not.
4. If your course had field trips, were they effective?
1-2: Yes. 5-6: Yes. 7: Yes. It was
and helpful to see examples of the structure, decorations, etc.,
the pieces themselves. Nonetheless, sometimes the slides were
effective for me than the actual pieces, since the photographs
enlarged and much easier to see. Also, the larger the group, the
harder it is for one individual to see and study a piece. This
mitigated to some extent by the opportunity to study pieces
individually after class: easy for the Book Arts Press examples,
difficult for the Special Collections pieces because of
difficulties. 8: Yes, although there was much crowding to
view the books. Everyone jammed around a single table was a
much. 9: The visit to Special Collections was a high
rounding out the experience of matching slides to physical items.
10: Yes, it was a chance to see NP out in the field, so to
speak. 11: Yes. 12: Yes -- would have enjoyed more
in Special Collections and less classroom lecture. 13:
We looked at many interesting and beautiful bindings reflecting
issues discussed in the classroom. 15: The class time
in Special Collections was extremely well spent. Instructor
well ahead of time. 16: Yes.
5. Did the actual course content correspond to its RBS
brochure description and Expanded Course Description? Did the
course in general meet your expectations?
1: Yes. The course was accurately described and met my
expectations. 2: Generally. 3: Completely
with brochure description. The course was better than anticipated
and is very useful to professional and novices alike. His
presentation was geared to all levels of background knowledge.
4: Yes. 5: Yes./Yes. 6: Expected it to be
great, and it was. 7: Yes. Yes. It exceeded them. I
especially appreciated the inclusion of Eastern European Judaic
materials from the Howard Collection in the discussion. 8:
Yes, very much so. 9: Yes. 10: Far exceeded
expectations -- challenging and inspiring. 11: Yes. The
exceeded my very high expectations. 12: I expected the
course to be more like a seminar with give and take, rather than
series of 30 hours of lecture. 13: The course met and
surpassed my expectations. 15: Yes. Yes. 16: Yes.
6. What did you like best about the course?
1: The instructor and his slides. 2: Well presented
and organized. The many visuals. 3: The opportunity to see
the slide example coupled with actual examples of books to teach
binding principles. 4: A great deal of new information
is either not available elsewhere or is very scattered.
Images were very helpful. Also, very good to spend
looking at actual books. 5: Intensive amount of
regarding production and materials of books in this period.
6: Willingness of instructor to take questions and explain
side issues. 7: The chance to see a wide variety of
structures, and begin to develop skill in dating them and
connecting them to particular geographic areas. The chance to
with an experienced binder and binding historian (NP) about what
were seeing. 8: NP's knowledge and his willingness to
this with students. 9: I liked the density of the
information. Given a short week, and needing more time to use
information, the quantity was important. I'm sure I'll be
the notes for some time to come. 10: Being exposed to so
many examples through NP's slides and seeing his examination of
books in class. 11: The instructor teaching us to think
ourselves. The learning experience will last far beyond the
itself. 12: The slides and trip to Special Collections.
13: Being able to see a great variety of binding
and to place them historically within political and cultural
contexts. The way that the course was presented by NP was
14: The immense knowledge and enthusiasm of the
15: Instructor's approach of total immersion in the
matter. The depth of the instructor's knowledge and expertise and
his enthusiastic sharing and teaching skill. 16: One of
two or three most exciting classes I've ever taken. Completely
changed my approach to evaluation of bindings. An essential
corrective to the decoration-centered studies so far published.
Slides were essential, and 800 were not too many. NP is
decades of observation into a week. The late evening Lawn
were a valuable supplement.
7. How could the course have been improved?
1: Not as much time spent on the bookbinding forms and
analysis. 2: More supportive printed materials,
chronologies of certain binding characteristics and their
tendencies (French, English, German, etc.). This would make it
easier to absorb the slides without worrying about copious note
taking. 3: A greater selection of actual examples to
4: Some information a bit scattered, but generally very
presented. It can be difficult to keep up, depending on level of
technical knowledge. 5: 1) More question and answer time,
perhaps each day. 2) If possible, hands-on experience looking at
bindings in the BAP collection. Also, make use of the BAP museum.
3) Handouts summarizing some of the information given in the
course, for example, certain characteristics specific to
country/region; chronological period; materials used. 4) Tighter
structure and organization of the presentation of the
especially because of the large amount of information presented.
6: Only more would have been better. 8: More
to seating and physical layout would improve the situation; 16
dents should be the maximum. 9: Hands-on model-making of
quick, easy things like ties; playing with bits of leather or
thread; tactile information. 10: It couldn't. 11:
There is no way this course could have been improved. 12:
More attention to teaching methods and synthesis of material
than 30 hours of specifics thrown out. More time for questions
answers. There was too much material covered for the time
allocated. 13: A chart would have been useful showing
developments of binding techniques according to country -- a
chart, at least, as the information was very varied regarding
period and region. 14: The structure might be
from a pedagogical point of view. For example, NP is apparently
writing a major work on bindings. It would have helped if before
the course he had given us printed summaries of some of the main
points of the book, which the many slides apparently illustrate.
This would have made the slides (212 on the last day alone!)
in the mind better. I feel grateful for the opportunity of seeing
them all -- but there is the danger of getting lost in detail.
15: 1) A brief syllabus handed out on the first day
outlining the topics to be covered would have been helpful. 2)
ment concentrated on the role of Special Collections in preserv-
ing/repairing bindings. 16: The information presented is
inherently not cut-and-dried. Generalizations are dangerous.
However, a pre-course handout illustrating (possibly with time
lines) broad national tendencies in each category (eg, lacked
head-bands, skin type, edge coloring) would have given us a
accommodate the exceptions. NP sometimes made three important
points and one minor one in a single sentence; it's a lot to get
down and think about with the amount of preparation most of us
Attempts to reduce the diffuseness might lead to falsification.
8. Any final thoughts?
1: I believe the course would be better, as it was in
previous years, divided according to those with bench experience
and those with none, that is, catalogers, librarians, collectors,
etc., in one session, conservators in another. 4: Some level of
technical knowledge very helpful -- even having
done a few basic sewing structures and board attachments would help a
Readings are essential. 5: Be prepared to absorb an
incredible amount of information. Be patient, take it home, and
it. 6: You can't afford to miss it. 7: Visit a hand
press ahead of time if you have no bench experience as a hand
binder, if at all possible! 10: Don't expect definitive
answers, do expect a challenging and stimulating week and an urge
examine as many bindings as you can get your hands on as soon as
possible. 11: This course is essential for anyone
in the book trade during the hand press period. The highest
recommendation possible. 12: Need to read supplementary
materials in addition to core reading sources prior to class.
13: Do anything you can to take it! 15: An
valuable and enjoyable course. 16: Try to construct time
lines of national binding structure styles beforehand, the more
detailed the better.
Number of respondents: 16
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
63% 44% 44% 44%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
6% 38% 50% 38%
N/A: self- N/A: Self- N/A: stayed N/A: lived
employed, re- employed, with friends nearby
tired, or had retired, or or lived at
summers off exchange home
25% 18% 6% 12%
Between jobs Another
Six students (38%) were rare book librarians; four students (25%)
were conservator/binder/preservation librarians; two students
had a non-professionally-related interest in the subject; one
student (6% each) was a general librarian with unspecified rare
book duties, a government publications librarian with some rare
book duties, a printer, or worked in a museum in work not
related to the library.