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A new 18th century bookbinding manual available!

Book CoverIt has been far too long since I’ve posted anything to this blog. Life took a different turn last January, as I started a new doctoral program concentrating on global Christianity and development. On top of that, my wife and I moved to a different part of town. So, the bindery equipment is packed away for now, and I’ve got plenty of reading to do!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure that I mentioned this addition to the GloucesterBound 18th Century Bookbinding Bibliography. The Bibliotheca Nacional de España (National Library of Spain) has produced a facsimile reproduction of a late 18th century hand-written bookbinding manual by Martín Fernández. The full-text along with a transcription and commentary on the manuscript is available online!

Here is a rough translation1 of the publisher’s description:

Curiosidades o Secretos Del Oficio de Librero is a study and transcription of part of a manuscript in the Bibliotheca Nacional de España (Mss/12761). It is a small booklet that occupies folios 84 to 144 of  a Sammelband2 in Quarto format. It develops, in sixty pages, a treatise on bookbinding, the only one known to date in Spanish and one of the four manuscripts on this subject preserved in Europe. The author describes in this work the most common processes in the workshops of the time, and includes several recipes and numerous descriptions of the materials and instruments necessary in the art of decorating the books. It is important to note that the text was written at a key moment in the history of the book in Spain, since the eighteenth century is considered the high-point of Spanish printing and binding.

With the publication of this work, the Library makes available a manuscript of exceptional importance for bookbinding historians, retrieving Martín Fernández’s text, while placing it in the exceptional circumstances in which it was written. The edition includes a brief study of the bibliographic and historical context in which the work is located. A transcript and commentary offer more information about the contents of the original text, incorporating transcriptions of recipes from the same period. Finally, a full-color facsimile is reproduced.

The images also include examples of 18th century Spanish tooling.

Fernández, Martín. Curiosidades o Secretos Del Oficio de Librero, Con Las Voces Que Don Martín Fernández, Vecino de Esta Ciudad de Orense, Pudo Experimentar y Adquirir de Él: Reproducción Facsímil. Edited by Arsenio Sánchez Hernapérez. Madrid: Bibliotheca Nacional de España, 2019. http://www.bne.es/media/Publicaciones/PublicacionesTecnicas/oficio-del-librero.pdf.

1.  Actually, just an adaptation of GoogleTranslate’s output.
2. Gotta love the Germans, they have a word for everything! Sammelband refers to a volume that is actually multiple books bound between the same covers. From what I can gather, volumen facticio is the Spanish equivalent of Sammelband.

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