European Bookbinding, 1450–1820

Five-day course by Nicholas Pickwoad in summer school History of the Book

21aug2017 25aug2017 10.00


From 21 through 25 August 2017, Nicholas Pickwoad will give the course ‘European Bookbinding, 1450–1820’. This course is part of the summer school History of the Book.

This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The history of bookbinding is not simply the history of a decorative art, but that of a craft answering a commercial need. This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the binding trade.

A large part of the course will be devoted to the identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops without reference to finishing tools. The identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed through the three centuries covered by the course. The development of binding decoration will be touched on, but will not form a major part of the discussion.

During the course, actual examples of bindings are shown and discussed in separate sessions. The students are expected to have a good knowledge of bookbinding terms and a basic knowledge of the history of book production.

The purpose of the course is to encourage an awareness of the possibilities latent in the detailed study of bookbindings and is thus aimed at all those handling books bound in this period, but it has particular relevance for all those involved in the repair and conservation of such materials.


Prof. Dr. Nicholas Pickwoad has a doctorate from Oxford University in English Literature. He trained in bookbinding and book conservation with Roger Powell, and ran his own workshop from 1977 to 1989. He has been Adviser on book conservation to the National Trust of Great Britain since 1978, and was editor of the Paper Conservator. He taught book conservation at Columbia University Library School in New York and was Chief Conservator in the Harvard University Library.

Nicholas Pickwoad is now project leader of the St Catherine’s Monastery Library Project and director of the Ligatus Research Centre. He gave the 2008 Panizzi Lectures at the British Library, was awarded the 2009 Plowden Medal for Conservation and is a Fellow of the IIC and of the Society of Antiquaries and a Council Member of the Bibliographical Society of Great Britain.

Dates, time and place

  • Monday 21 through Friday 25 August
  • 10:00–13:00 h
  • Werkgroepenruimte, Bijzondere Collecties, Oude Turfmarkt 129


Gepubliceerd door  Bijzondere Collecties UvA