B-10. Introduction to the History of Bookbinding

Karen Limper-Herz

I came, I saw, I feel empowered with bookbinding knowledge!” — 2018 student

Course Length: 30 hours
Course Week: 28 July–2 August 2024
Format: in person, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA
Fee: $1,395

A bookbinding has two main functions. It protects its text block against wear and tear, and, by its structure, it makes a book out of a heap of otherwise separate leaves or quires. Through the ages, the covers, spine, fore-edge, and other parts of the book have been decorated in almost every conceivable manner, technique, and material, thereby turning the binding into a work of decorative art. This introductory course focuses on the history of fine binding, but will also discuss the principal techniques and materials used in the West throughout binding’s long history. It is intended for those who wish to develop a better understanding of the history of the field and is aimed at historians, special collections staff, collectors, dealers, conservators, bookbinders, and others with an interest in bindings and their history.

Course History

Karen Limper-Herz teaches this course online (22 hours).
Karen Limper-Herz teaches this course in person.
Jan Storm van Leeuwen teaches this course in person.
Apply Now

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

Related Courses


Karen Limper-Herz

Karen Limper-Herz

Karen Limper-Herz is Lead Curator for Incunabula and Sixteenth Century Printed Books at the British Library. A student of Mirjam Foot and Jan Storm van Leeuwen, she has worked with and studied bookbindings from different countries and periods for nearly 20 years, and regularly publishes and speaks about bookbindings in the U.K. and abroad. She is the Honorary Secretary and a Vice-President of the Bibliographical Society (U.K.). She regularly attends and speaks at conferences, including the annual meetings organized by the Arbeitskreis für die Erfassung, Erschließung und Erhaltung historischer Bucheinbände (AEB) in Germany, and is a regular contributor to the “English & Foreign Bookbindings” series in The Book Collector.

Full Bio »