Skip to main content

Italian Stationery Bindings with Katherine Beaty

Submitted by kate.e.levy@gm… on Mon, 11/27/2017 - 23:00

By Kate Levy

This weekend's NEGBW events began with a lecture at Harvard’s Weissman Preservation Center by Harvard rare book conservator, Katherine Beaty. She spoke about the collection of more than 150 account books and day books from the Medici family in Florence that is part of the Harvard Business School’s Baker Library. The Medici collection, from the late 14th to the early 18th century, with the majority dating from 1400 to 1600, is the largest collection of Italian renaissance business records outside of Italy. The volumes at Baker are mostly dealing in the wool and textile trade, and now that the collection has been stabilized, scholars are excited to have access to these to do more research on the contents of the ledgers. While ledger or stationery bindings are common throughout Europe at this time, this collection has some distinct structural and material differences. Most of the volumes in the collection are limp vellum, but there are some examples of laminated leather. All the books have leather overbands, decorative (mostly) alum-tawed lacings, spine and endband tackets, and different fastening types, including ties, loop and toggle, and buckles. Katherine walked us through the structure of these books with images from the collection demonstrating the differences she and her team found.

Baker Library, Medici 544 v.1 front cover, spine and tail.

Katherine then taught a workshop on this structure based on the research she did while stabilizing the collection. 10 of us spent the weekend at Third Year Studios in Boston sewing, punching and lacing and we were all able to finish our historical models of this 15th-16th Century Italian Tacketed Stationery Bindings.